UFC Newark preview: Breaking down Clay Guida vs. Jim Miller

Elias Cepeda
Yahoo Sports Contributor
Clay Guida practices during the UFC Fight Night Open Workouts at Prudential Center on July 31, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. (Getty Images)

Two hardcore legends of mixed martial arts face off this Saturday when Clay Guida (35-18) and Jim Miller (30-13) meet in the co-main event of UFC on ESPN 5. Guida has won three out of his last four contests while Miller has won two out of his last three.

The pair of wrestlers-turned-fighters are as well-rounded and gritty as they come, capable of finishing the fight in multiple areas. Below, we take a look at a few crucial areas of the fight to get you ready for the big bout.

Stand up-striking

Guida has become more efficient with his strikes on the feet in recent years, becoming more technical and sitting down on his punches better. The result has been better timing and more power in his punches for “The Carpenter.”

Simply put, Guida can hurt opponents, bad, with his punches these days. His improved timing, power and efficiency, to go with the aggressiveness and volume he’s always had make him perhaps more dangerous as a finisher than he’s ever been in his long career.

Miller has long been a technical striker on the feet, to go with his great wrestling base and spectacular Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. When he’s at his best, Miller can fire off punch combinations that hit their mark to the body and head.

Miller is also confident in his roundhouse kicks, and should be. With that said, he sometimes has a tendency to lead with kicks.

If he does that too predictably, or if his kicks aren’t thrown and retracted fast enough, Miller could very well find himself getting timed and countered by a right cross while on one foot. I don’t think it would be unexpected for Miller to attempt to change levels off of strikes and try to take Guida down and put him on his back.

The Clinch

Miller is excellent from the Thai Plum clinch delivering knees, and also has a diverse elbow strike game. Guida does good work in the clinch, especially when he can get there while pressing his opponent against the cage.

Guida did this magnificently in his last fight to BJ Penn, using solid head position up top to set up body punches in bunches. Guida also changes levels even lower while pressing opponents against the cage, looking for double-leg takedowns.

He should be careful not to get stuck under Miller, who can threaten with elbows to the head while defending against the cage, and who can angle off the cage while stuffing a head if the head is in between his legs, setting up back-takes and front chokes.

Wrestling

Dustin Poirier (L) is thrown by Jim Miller at UFC 208 on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, in New York. Poirier won the fight. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

A good deal of the close-range and clinch wrestling was covered above, but there’s also free-standing set-ups possible when it comes to wrestling takedowns. Both men have impressive blast double-leg takedowns.

Guida often uses initial shot attempts to press opponents to the cage and continue his work there. What makes him more of a problem to deal with lately is how he doesn’t rely on takedown attempts against the cage, but is also content on staying patient and alternating under hooks with punches, which also make him more of a takedown threat when opponents begin to deal with strikes. Miller can shoot well reactively off of opponents’ punches and often takes advantage of their attempts to scramble by taking their back.

Guida will have to be aware of back exposure against the fence and on the wall. For his part, Guida is excellent at pinning opponents once he flattens them on their back.

Both men are capable of taking the other down, and I wouldn’t be surprised if each finds success with multiple takedowns. If the fight doesn’t turn on power strikes doing damage on the feet or in the clinch, I think it very well could hinge on the scrambles and wall-walks that follow takedowns.

Submissions

Following up on our last points above, it is important to consider who the bigger submission threat is in the fight. Though each fight is its own organism and there is no way to know for sure how things go, it’s important to recognize the differences between these two great ground fighters.

Both Guida and Miller have many submissions to their respective names, and so each are capable of tapping out the other. Many of Guida’s biggest submission wins are predicated on him first stunning his opponents with strikes on the feet, while Miller is also excellent at locking in and finishing submissions even without first hurting opponents.

Miller is capable of taking advantage of any back or neck exposure from in front of his opponent or on the side of them (with front chokes and rear chokes), and it’s in large part because he has such great hip control (from the back) and head coverage (with front chokes).

Conditioning

Miller has not ever shown any particular weakness when it comes to conditioning. With that said, Guida may have better conditioning than anyone in the sport.

Time and again he has worn down and worn out previously indefatigable opposition. Guida is always the smart pick when the fight wears on.

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