The path to victory is never an easy one, especially in title fights in the UFC.
For Carlos Condit the road to his first UFC welterweight title was paved with more than a few bumps in the road, a couple of detours and he may have even hit a brick wall on more than one occasion.
At UFC 143 however, Condit realized his dream by capturing the interim UFC welterweight title by defeating Nick Diaz by unanimous decision, and now awaits his shot at Georges St-Pierre.
It was clear from the opening of the fight that coaches Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn had instilled the perfect winning strategy for Condit to capture the gold. Stay on the outside, use his kicks to set up bigger strikes, and do not stand in front of Nick Diaz.
The game plan played out to perfection.
A frustrated Diaz, who normally can corner any opponent against the cage and just unload his barrage of strikes to the head and body, could not put together any kind of combination because by the time he threw the second or third punch, Condit was gone.
Condit fired back with leg kicks all night lock, battering Diaz’s lead leg, and he swung a series of spinning back fists, although most only glanced and never landed clean.
What it did do however is make Diaz respect the power of Condit and as the fight wore on, the former WEC champion gained confidence.
“A lot of my other fights I kind of came out strong towards the later rounds, when it went to later rounds, and I started to find my flow,” Condit said. “Hats off to Nick Diaz, he’s a warrior. Nothing but admiration and respect for how he fights.”
Condit continuously mixed up his kicks with punches, landing shots over the top and then tossing a quick body or head kick to keep Diaz from being able to put any combinations together.
Diaz kept stalking forward throughout the fight, but just could not keep the speedier Condit from disappearing before he could land anything with damage. The real story of the fight may have come at three separate occasions where Diaz looked for the takedown on Condit, which is a rare moment for the Stockton, Calif. native.
The final round saw Diaz come the closest he got to finishing the fight after dragging Condit to the mat and taking his back. Diaz tried hard to get a rear naked choke or set up for an armbar, but the crafty veteran of more than 30 fights wasn’t going to fall into his traps and the fight came to a close.
As the judges scorecards were read it was a clean sweep and unanimous decision for the new UFC interim welterweight champion, Carlos Condit.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Condit said as the title belt was wrapped around his waist. “I couldn’t have done it without my coaches and teammates, they prepared me for this fight. I did what they told me to do and I walked away with a victory.”
One of the biggest keys to the fight and victory for Condit beyond his strategy and elusiveness was his ability to go 25 minutes with a cardio machine like Diaz.
“My endurance has always been a strong point, it’s always been a part of my game. I felt like I could overcome my opponents and out pace them, and this time I was able to hang with him,” Condit stated.
Following the loss, Nick Diaz was congratulatory of Carlos Condit on the win, but also took shots at his game plan and strategy. In the middle of that, Diaz essentially said that if that’s the way the scoring in MMA works, he’s walking away.
“I’m not going to accept the fact that this was a loss. That ain’t right, I pushed him back the whole fight, I walked him down I got the takedown. I won on top. Carlos is a great guy, I’m happy for him and his family. I think I’m done with this MMA, it’s been great out here, I’ve had a good career, you guys pay me way too much, but I don’t think I’m going to keep going in this. It’s been a good time. Good job Carlos, you’re the man bro,” said Diaz.
“I don’t need this shit. I pushed this guy backwards the whole time, he ran from me the whole fight. I landed the harder shots, he ran the whole time, he kicked me in my leg with little baby leg kicks the whole fight. That’s the way they understand how to win here, I don’t want to play this game no more.”
The heat of the moment always counts for something so it’s unlike that Diaz is actually going to retire from MMA but then again he’s always walked to the beat of his own drum. Nothing is surprising when it comes to Nick Diaz.
As for Carlos Condit, the new UFC welterweight champion will now look to unify the belt with Georges St-Pierre later this year. From all accounts on Saturday night, it appears Condit is going to face St-Pierre next without another opponent getting the first crack at his belt, but only time will tell if that actually comes true or not.
“It is an honor,” Condit said about facing St-Pierre. “Georges is a guy that I’ve looked up to since I was a young guy before I was in the UFC, and it’s an honor to compete on this stage with guys like Nick Diaz, with guys like Georges St-Pierre. That’s all I can say, I’m completely honored.”