MMA Mom: Debbie Guida Talks Fight Nights, Walkouts, and Her Son Clay

Fightland Blog

By Fightland Staff

We called one of our favorite UFC fighters and his mom bright an early this Mother’s Day to talk about what it’s like on fight nights for the most caring, and worrisome, person in our lives—our mother.

Clay Guida is veteran featherweight known for his wild commitment to engage his opponent, and his non-stop pace. If any UFC-Mom has it rough, it’s Clay’s. Still, we see her at all of his events, intently watching her son from ringside. Clay won his last fight against a game Tasuya Kawajiri, and his next fight has yet to be announced.

Today, Clay is spending some down time fishing trip in South Carolina, so I patched in his mother Debbie, who’s in Florida. We were informed that yes, Clay had already wished her ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ before we called to interview them.

Fightland: What’s like to have your baby competing in the Octagon all the time?
Debbie: I guess I’m sort of getting more used to it. But it’s the same feeling every time as far as the stomach turning. As soon as he tells me he has a fight scheduled it starts. And of course you know I research all his opponents and go over it in my head... OK, what does he have to do to beat this guy? It’s the same thing all the time.

And then fight day rolls around, and the nerves set it. It’s like… Don’t get in my way or I’ll bite your head off. It’s rough. Everyone suffers around me. [laughs]

It is very stressful. On fight day I wake up and I’m always nauseous and I have one good cry. It’s stressful, you know? And then, when he gets in the cage…the adrenaline…my adrenaline is topped of at that point. And I always think the same thing when he’s walking down that hall… If my adrenaline is this bad, I cant even imagine what his is like.

How to you feel after the fight is over?
Debbie: You are a man so you will never know what its like to have a baby, but the moment you have your baby [there is a sense of relief]. It’s over. That’s how I feel after Clay’s fights. It’s how I describe it to everyone that asks me. After he wins, or after he loses, it’s the same thing—it’s over. Then, if Clay won, I start to think about how the other mom is feeling. If Clay loses, then I thank God that no one is hurt and that God watched over him and his opponent. We have been really fortunate.

That night I have the adrenaline dump. Every single time he fights, after it’s over, I can breathe again.

Clay: If anyone is able to do it, it’s Momma Guida.

A lot of fighters' parents have never supported their career choice. It’s fun to talk to a mom so emotionally engaged in mixed martial arts.
Clay: I could talk for six hours about this. My folks have been very supportive. My dad always worked a couple of jobs. He would try to make it to our events and our sports on the weekends but he wasn’t always able to be there. But somehow, I think my mom might have had a clone or a twin she didn’t tell us about because somehow, someway she would always make it to practice after putting in a full day's work.

Both my parents always been supportive of what my brother, sister and I liked. Having fun was the most important thing. It’s hard to put into words how blessed I am to have parents to have provided so much. It’s pretty awesome, man.

So what’s next for the Guidas?
Debbie: I worked in pediatric medicine, but just recently hung up my stethoscope to really start enjoying the later part of my life. Clay was generous enough to buy us a house out here in Florida—he’s been trying to get us to do this for a while and we finally gave in. It’s been amazing. I can’t believe it. I feel like if someone pinches me and wakes me up, I’m going to have to deck them.

I’ll be in Florida part-time because my grandkids are broken hearted that I left them in Illinois. So I’ll be going back and forth. We move into our new house this evening, actually, so we are all really excited.

Clay: The coolest part about all of this is that [my family] is doing what they love. My mom is retired, but she has [a company called] Momma Guida's Truffle Bites. So, she is doing her thing, and my dad has his own thing down in Florida. They are doing what they love, and I get to do what I love—compete in mixed martial arts.

As we speak, I’m out here on a boat, fishing in South Carolina in the low country. It’s cool to see where we all are physically, and how far we have come. We are very blessed, and I'm looking forward to where the road will take us next.

[Ed note: Clay texted us this photo a couple minutes after we hung up.]

“Happy Mother’s Day to all those moms out there. Since I’m not able to spend it with Momma Guida, I’m doing the next best thing.”


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Fightland Meets: Clay Guida