But a key lightweight fight that going in seemed certain to be a can't-miss match turned out to be a yawner, due to Guida's circling and Maynard's inability to cut off the cage.
Judges had it 48-47 twice for Maynard and 48-47 for Guida in a fight that left UFC president Dana White raging on Twitter.
Late in the second round, the mercurial UFC president tweeted, "I thought it was impossible for this fight to suck. I WAS WRONG!!!!!!"
Neither man did much to enhance his stature in the UFC's stacked lightweight division.
Maynard clearly wanted to turn the bout into a slugfest, and at one point in the fourth round, he dropped his hands, stuck out his chin and let Guida hit him. Guida did, three times in a row, setting up what was the fight's most exciting moment.
But for the most part, Guida circled away from Maynard and the ‘Bully’ did a poor job of cutting off the cage and forcing Guida to fight.
After the bout was over, Maynard spoke to the fans and involved the city's most beloved boxer, Arturo Gatti.
"Thanks, Atlantic City," Maynard said after completing an interview in the cage with broadcaster Jon Anik. "I know you guys like fighters, Arturo Gatti. I was trying to do the same."
But Gatti never simply followed a circling opponent around the ring. He found a way to turn it into a fight, and many boxers circled away from Gatti.
Maynard, though, was pretty much unable to do that. At one point, referee Dan Miragliotta stopped the bout and warned Guida to quit avoiding combat. Maynard, though, should have been able to make Guida fight and he did not.
"I thought Guida was coming to fight," Maynard said angrily. "I came to fight. I wanted to get bloody, have fun."
Guida was flicking a jab early and scoring points early as he moved away. As the fight wore on, though, Guida kept up his movement but failed to punch as much.
When Maynard dropped his hands in the fourth and Guida landed three punches, that picked up the action. Maynard quickly took control and caught Guida in a guillotine choke.
It looked for a moment as if Maynard would pull out the surprising submission win, but Guida slammed Maynard and managed to wriggle his neck out.
Both were on the verge of title contention in the stacked 155-pound class. Maynard was coming off a disputed draw and a knockout loss to then-champion Frankie Edgar, while Guida was returning after losing an excellent fight to current champion Benson Henderson.
Maynard and Guida had hoped to use the bout to force their way past Nate Diaz as the division's No. 1 contender, but they failed miserably at that task.
Henderson and Edgar will meet at UFC 150 in August for the belt and the winner will fight Diaz. An impressive performance by either Maynard or Guida on Friday could have forced White to either have had the winner fight Diaz in a final eliminator or simply vaulted that man past Diaz and into the top spot.
But after a bout that left the crowd booing lustily and angered White immensely, it in all actuality is a loss for both of them.
MAIN CARD RESULTS:
Lightweight: Gray Maynard (11-1-1, 1NC, 155 lbs) d. Clay Guida (29-9-0, 155 lbs) by split decision (48-47, 48-47, 47-48)
Lightweight: Sam Stout (18-7-1, 155.5 lbs) d. Spencer Fisher (25-8-0, 156 lbs) by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Welterweight: Brian Ebersole (49-14-1, 1 NC, 170 lbs) d. TJ Waldburger (15-6-0, 170.5 pounds) by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Featherweight: Cub Swanson (16-5-0, 145.5 lbs) d. Ross Pearson (15-5-0, 146 lbs) by TKO (4:14, round two)
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