Clay ready to rumble

Roger Huerta (right) and Clay Guida at the weigh-ins for The Ultimate Fighter 6 finale. (UFC photo)

Roger Huerta (right) and Clay Guida at the weigh-ins for The Ultimate Fighter 6 finale. (UFC photo)

JOSE RODRIGUEZ

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

Clay "The Carpenter" Guida is used to having sand kicked in his face.

Growing up a small kid with big ambition posed endless challenges for the diminutive Illinois native.

"I was always the 90-pound weakling in football and wrestling and pretty much every other sport I was in," says the 5-foot-7 Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight.

But what Guida lacked in size, he made up for in heart and energy -- a trait he's successfully transformed into a career.

"I've always been competitive by nature and now I'm just rolling that into something I love," says the 25-year-old, who is 22-5.

Most noted for his ground game, Guida's trademark long hair and boundless energy have made him one of the more recognizable UFC fighters.

The spastic lightweight, who bounces and twitches like a 10-year-old on a sugar high the second he steps into the cage, says there's nothing special in his water bottle that unleashes his cage rage.

"I feed off the crowd," says the 155-pound underdog in the main event of tonight's The Ultimate Fighter 6 finale.

"People on their feet cheering feeds the fire beneath me and it makes me work that much harder."

The Illinois scrapper has been in one of the most exciting fights this year, losing a split decision to Tyson Griffin at UFC 72 in June. He then went on to a decision win over Marcus Aurelio at UFC 74.

But the Bon Jovi look-alike -- who was a union carpenter before entering the fight game full-time -- will face his toughest competition yet in Sports Illustrated poster boy Roger "El Matador" Huerta.

Huerta has rock-solid jaw, can stand and strike and has a proven ground game.

He is the first mixed-martial arts fighter to appear on the cover of SI.

The California-born Huerta, who has a pro record of 21-1-1 and is 5-0 in the UFC, believes the UFC owes him a title shot "after" he beats Guida.

"I've worked my butt off this year, I will be 6-0 (in the UFC) this Saturday and I definitely want that title," said Huerta.

Huerta says there is nothing in Guida's game that makes him uncertain of a victory.

"The truth is I believe I'm better than him at anything he can do. That's the bottom line," says the 24-year-old.

Guida says Huerta shouldn't bank on a one-dimensional fight with a wrestler.

"I think that if people think I'm nothing but cardio and wrestling, they're in for a rude awakening," said Guida. "My striking is improved, my Brazilian jiu-jitsu has improved and my MMA fighting is as good as anybody's. People have seen that time and time again from bell to bell."

The TUF 6 live finale, 9 p.m. EST on Spike TV, will also feature Team Matt Hughes' welterweights Mac Danzig and Tommy Speer fighting for this season's title.


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