ATLANTIC CITY — The fans who were booing Gray Maynard at the start of Friday’s mixed martial arts fight at Revel against Clay Guida were cheering and chanting his name by the end of their five-round bout.
Maynard’s nonstop aggression enabled him to gain a split decision over Guida before an announced crowd of 4,652 at a UFC event at Revel’s Ovation Hall.
Judges Eric Colon and Sue Sanidad both favored Maynard by a 48-47 margin. Judge Jose Tabora, an Egg Harbor Township resident, gave Guida a 48-47 edge.
The Press scored it 48-47 in favor of Maynard.
“It took me two rounds to realize this guy was going to (run around the cage) for the whole fight,” Maynard said. “I was ticked off. I’m here to work. People out there didn’t think (Guida’s running) was good. It wasn’t even movement. It was movement to the other end of the cage.”
Guida’s game plan was to rely on an unorthodox, unpredictable fighting style.
Guida (29-10), who trains in Albuquerque, N.M., controlled the first two rounds with sharp punches and slick moves while the fans chanted “Guida! Guida!” His refusal to engage and trade punches with Maynard (12-1-1), however, turned the crowd in Maynard’s favor as the fight progressed.
“I felt good about my performance,” Guida said. “We stuck to our game plan, which was to be unpredictable. I think if I had thrown more strikes, I would have gotten the nod.”
Maynard, whose only blemishes (a loss and a tie) were to Toms River native and former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, kept pressing the action while Guida ran away. Maynard expressed his frustration with an obscene gesture at the end of the third and repeated it during the fourth.
Maynard finally spotted an opening in the fourth and landed a pair of knees to Guida’s chin. Guida responded by landing a pair of punches. However, Maynard mocked Guida and then took him to the mat for the first time in the fight.
As the fifth round began, the fans who were in Guida’s corner at the beginning of the bout were chanting “Guida (stinks)! Guida (stinks!)” Later in the round, referee Dan Miragliotta warned Guida to stop running, producing cheers from the fans.
“The fight (stunk),” UFC president Dana White said. “There’s no other way to describe it. That wasn’t a split decision at all. No one can win a fight like that, running around like that. This isn’t (bleeping) ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ Gray moved forward the whole fight. He literally was running forward and throwing punches.”
The crowd was watching the UFC’s first card in town in seven years. The show was the organization’s seventh appearance on the Boardwalk but first since it held UFC 53 at Boardwalk Hall on June 4, 2005.
White indicated after the fight that more shows will be coming in the near future. A major card would have to be held at Boardwalk Hall or perhaps even Bader Field.
“Atlantic City has always been great to us,” White said. “It’s always been a great market for us and the city has always been great. We’ll be back soon. This is a great venue here, too. It’s a perfect place to watch fights.”
The fans were treated to a terrific fight in the co-feature. Canadian lightweight Sam Stout (19-7) earned a three-round, unanimous decision over Los Angeles fighter Spencer Fisher (25-9) in an action-packed bout. that was selected as “Fight of the Night.” Stout earned a 2-1 edge in their trilogy. Fisher, 36, may consider retirement.
In other top fights, Palm Springs, Calif. featherweight Cub Swanson (17-5), who had palm trees tattoos on his midsection, dropped San Diego resident Ross Pearson (15-6) with a left hook en route to earning a second-round TKO. He earned $50,000 for “Knockout of the Night.”
Thailand welterweight Brian Ebersole (50-14-1) fought off T.J. Waldburger’s slew of submission attempts to earn a three-round, unanimous decision. Waldburger, from Belton, Texas, nearly caught Ebersole in a D’Arce choke in the first round. Ebersole, who hasn’t tapped out in seven years, controlled the last two rounds.
Elsewhere on the card, former New Jersey high school wrestlers Nick Catone (Brick Memorial) and Dan Miller (Sparta) endured mixed results.
Catone (9-3), from Brick Township, suffered a third-round TKO loss against Chris Camozzi (16-6), of Lakewood, Colo. Blood was gushing from Catone’s forehead and the bridge of his nose, forcing ringside physician Dr. Steve Oxlar to halt the fight at 1 minute, 51 seconds of the third.
Miller (14-6), who made his debut at welterweight (170 pounds) after previously fighting at middleweight (185), produced deafening cheers from the early-arriving crowd with a third-round submission over Ricardo Funch (8-4), of Ludlow, Mass. Miller applied a guillotine choke that forced Funch to tap out at 3 minutes, 12 seconds of the third round, thereby earning $50,000 for “Submission of the Night.”
In other bouts, Ogden, Utah featherweight Steven Siler (21-9) handed Saugerties, N.Y. native Joey Gambino (9-1) his first loss with a first-round submission (guillotine choke) at 2 minutes, 47 seconds. Vancouver, Wash. welterweight Rick Story (14-5) gained a three-round, unanimous decision over Ogden’s Brock Jardine (9-2). Orem, Utah lightweight Ramsey Nijem (7-2) scored a first-round TKO over formerly unbeaten C.J. Keith (8-1), of Porterville, Calif.
Also, Columbus, Ohio, welterweight Matt Brown (17-11) unleashed a barrage of punches to earn a second-round TKO over Brazil native Luis Ramos (19-8). Referee Gasper Oliver, an Atlantic City native and former Vikings wrestler, stopped it at 4:20 of the second. Chicago featherweight Ricardo Lamas (12-2) took a three-round, unanimous decision over Japan’s Hatsu Hioki (26-5-2).
Coconut Creek, Fla. bantamweight Ken Stone (11-3) opened the card with a three-round, split decision over late replacement Daniel Pague (11-7), of Centreville, Va.
Punchlines: Tabora, owner of Bullpen Vale Tudo in EHT, was one of the judges for the main event, as well as three other bouts. ... Toms River native Frankie Edgar, the former UFC lightweight champion, worked Catone’s corner. Edgar will face Benson Henderson in a rematch for the title on Aug. 11 in Denver.