When the announcement was made that Carlos Condit would get the opportunity to face Georges St-Pierre at UFC 137 with the welterweight title on the line, coach Greg Jackson immediately stepped out of the picture.
Jackson has worked with both Condit and St-Pierre for several years and per his own rules, he won’t coach one teammate against another in a fight.
That’s where longtime Jackson’s coach and team member Chris Luttrell enters the picture.
As Carlos Condit explains himself, Luttrell is the man who took over his head coaching duties when Jackson stepped to the side to avoid the conflict of teammate vs. teammate.
“Not a whole lot has changed. I have Chris Luttrell heading up my camp instead of Greg Jackson. I’m still training with the team, the same guys that were helping me get ready for B.J. are helping me get ready for Georges. It’s been great,” Condit told MMAWeekly Radio recently.
“I feel great about Chris heading up my camp.”
So who is Chris Luttrell exactly?
Well he’s the man responsible for coach Greg Jackson and the team’s striking guru Mike Winkeljohn meeting in the first place.
“I actually met Mike Winkeljohn first. Mike was the one that started it all off. He was looking to get into some sort of mixed martial arts close to 20 years ago and he sought me out. I wrestled in high school and college and I kind of had a ground and pound background,” Luttrell explained when speaking with MMAWeekly.com.
“I started teaching at his karate gym. He was a Muay Thai guy and owned a karate gym, and I started working for him. I then met Greg Jackson’s top student at a judo club, and he said why don’t we go and roll? I went in and met Greg and hit it off with Greg, and I said, well Greg you need to meet Mike. So I introduced those two and right away we kind of figured out we wanted to do the MMA thing.”
From there the Jackson/Winkeljohn team was formed and over the last decade they’ve become one of the top gyms in the entire sport.
For all the longtime team members that have come out of the gym such as Keith Jardine, Diego Sanchez, and Joey Villasenor, it was Luttrell who was actually Jackson’s first black belt student and fighter to come from the team.
For every champion that’s been formed under Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn’s tutelage, Chris Luttrell has been there every step of the way as well.
In this particular situation, despite his fierce loyalty to the team, Luttrell looked at the St-Pierre vs. Condit fight much different than any other teammate vs. teammate scenario. Luttrell watched first hand when the situation between Rashad Evans and Jon Jones erupted and says it was painful to see those two go from friends to bitter enemies.
With St-Pierre and Condit however, Luttrell explains it’s not even really that much of an issue.
“Georges was coming in quite a bit back in the day, and then he started coming to Albuquerque less and less as Carlos kind of came on the team. So they never really trained together and developed a close bond and a friendship like say Rashad and Jon did,” Luttrell said.
With Condit’s steady rise in the welterweight division and St-Pierre’s continued dominance at the top, both fighter and teacher saw an eventual clash coming to a head at some point, most likely sooner rather than later.
“Myself and Carlos had been working before this fight was announced, you could kind of see the fight coming on the horizon,” Luttrell stated. “Carlos has just been improving every fight and Carlos is a finisher. He wants to finish everybody and he’s been doing that. You kind of saw it coming so I grabbed him a while back and I was like ‘you’re going to get a title shot so let’s start working right now’ before it was ever announced.”
Condit explained the situation very similarly, and while the conversations with coach Greg Jackson have been few during this fight camp, he still expressed his gratitude as he headed into fight camp.
“This is something we sort of saw coming. We had our ducks in a row as far as who was going to train who, so it wasn’t a big thing. Basically the only conversation regarding the subject was me thanking Greg for getting me to this position, to challenge for the title,” Condit commented.
Now that the fight is just a couple of weeks away, Luttrell has started to put the finishing touches onto Condit’s strategy, and has prepared him for the battle ahead. Luttrell has actually been working on and off with Condit for several years so it’s something special to see him rise to this level and get a chance to take home the most coveted title in the sport.
“What excites me so much is I love Albuquerque fighters, I love home grown fighters. Carlos is from here,” said Luttrell. “I remember the first day he came in, when he came in with Tom Vaughn, a former coach, and Tom was telling me ‘I’ve got this kid and he’s just tough as nails, there’s no quit in him.’ So I’ve been kind of training and rolling with Carlos throughout his career.
“So to see him grow and mature like this as a fighter and a person is just a great feeling.”
It’s no secret that Georges St-Pierre is an unbelievably tough fight to game plan for, and his skill level is almost unmatched in the sport, but Luttrell is looking forward to watching Condit go and out try to figure out the puzzle that is GSP.
Champion or no champion, teammate or no teammate, Luttrell is confident however that at UFC 137 it will begin the reign of Carlos Condit as the UFC welterweight king.
“Georges is a legend in this sport, a wonderful person and a wonderful champion,” said Luttrell. “It’s where you make your mark in the sport is beating the top guy. What an opportunity.”