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UFC on FX 4 Headliner a Must-Win for Both Maynard, Guida

Normally loquacious, Clay Guida refused to bite. Bombastic inside the Octagon, "The Carpenter" sounded bothered by "Hairgate" when discussing UFC on FX 4 Friday night at the Revel in Atlantic City, N.J.

“You guys will see Friday night. Next question,” Guida said.

As first reported, Guida (29-12 MMA, 9-6 UFC) will braid his long locks before competing against Gray Maynard (10-1-1 MMA, 8-1-1 UFC) after Maynard’s camp filed a complaint with the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board. "The Bully" denied any prior knowledge of such a protest, which he reiterated to reporters.

“A person [in my camp] inquired on it a while ago,” Maynard said. “It came out, obviously, and that’s how I knew about it. They thought it might be more of an issue because (his hair) is longer now. I didn’t even talk to them about it that much. I just said, ‘All right. It’s up to you guys.’ ”

Friday will be the first time in Guida’s career he will wear braids and to avoid distractions, he complied with the NJAC’s request. Later on, he also warmed up to the topic.

“It’s not even a headache,” Guida said. “It just shows me their camp’s mind is elsewhere and I’m focused on the task at hand, and that’s victory. Friday will tell. I’m not really putting more into it than there should be. It’s only a hairdo. We go out there, and it’s all about heart and who’s more determined to get their hand raised. I’m so driven in this fight, and we trained so hard for it. Victory will be mine.”

Guida, off a November loss to Benson Henderson that cost him a shot at then lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, has no choice. In fact, neither does Maynard, who owns a victory over Edgar and came this-close – twice – to knocking him out and taking the title. Fight No. 3 last October ended in devastating fashion, a fourth-round knockout that handed the Bully his first MMA defeat. He has since done what every fighter coming off a loss does, learn from it and make every attempt to return stronger. That included the radical change of moving from Xtreme Couture to the American Kickboxing Academy.

“For me, it hurt. But I knew I had to go back, look at everything, adjust a lot of stuff and evolve," Maynard said.

If Maynard, 33, wants his career to evolve to the peak of the deep lightweight division, a decisive win over Guida is an absolute must. Henderson and Edgar are fighting again in August. Anthony Pettis – he of the "Showtime Kick" that bested Henderson via decision in December 2010 – is lurking. And next in line is Nate Diaz after a tremendous victory over Jim Miller at UFC on Fox 3.

"There’s a big traffic jam in the division now – and now it isn’t me causing it I think it sucks!" Maynard said. "Winning on Friday night against Guida isn’t good enough. I know I’ve got to knock him out, make a statement, to make my case for a title shot.

"My girl is pregnant and that changes your outlook in life. I don’t just want that belt for myself now, but to secure the future for my kid who’s about to come into the world. Being a world champion and having big fights secures my kid’s future."

Maynard is thinking big, because Guida, 30, has yet to be knocked out in nine years of combat sports. Guida is also well-aware of the nefariously stacked lightweight division, so he too will be going for the KO, even if his hair won’t be swarming like mosquitoes.

“You guys will see a big surprise come Friday,” Guida said. “I train with it sometimes up in a ponytail, and my teammates ask me, ‘Why do you train with it up and put it down (for fights)?’ And I tell them, ‘Like Kid Rock says, ’Long hair swingin’, middle finger in the air.’ It’s time to go.’”

“He’s a crazy guy,” Maynard said. “You expect everything. It could end quick. It could go all the way. I’m just prepared. It’s a fight, and anything will happen. I’m prepared for that.”

Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNYC