This Saturday Carlos Condit steps into the Octagon for what could be a title eliminator against grappling specialist Demian Maia. Condit has fought all over the world since his pro debut in 2002, but many of his standout moments have taken place in the UFC. While it was hard to eliminate any of them, here are what I believe are his top 5 moments since joining the UFC.
5. Condit vs. Johny Hendricks (UFC 158)
Condit was coming off of a loss to GSP in a title unification match. He was able to hold his own against St-Pierre, but his weakness against strong wrestlers was exposed and Condit was taken down multiple times in the competitive match. Because of his strong performance, he was given an immediate no. 1 contender match against Johny Hendricks. Hendricks was one of the UFC’s most experienced wrestlers and carries one-shot knockout power. It was believed he would take the fight to Condit early and either knock him out or hold him to the mat for all three rounds. Instead, Condit fought back with everything he had, eating Hendricks’ best shots and getting to his feet almost immediately following Hendricks’ takedowns. Condit gave the more diverse attack while on the feet and arguably did more damage on the ground despite Hendricks having top position. In the end, Hendricks won the decision, but both fighters scored the Fight of the Night bonus and Condit showed again he belonged in the top of the Welterweight Division.
4. Condit vs. Nick Diaz (UFC 143)
Following GSP’s taking leave of the division due to injury, an interim title was created and the fight was set between long-time veterans Nick Diaz and Condit. Both fighters have a penchant for getting into standup wars and the fans expected a five round back and forth battle. Diaz came into the fight looking to move forward and utilize his boxing, but Condit had a different plan. Knowing the usual Diaz fight strategy, Condit used his footwork to move side to side and backwards and avoided the majority of Diaz’s offense. Condit was also able to stick to the plan when Diaz turned to taunting and trash-talking during the fight and fought while avoiding any real Diaz strikes. Fans were not pleased when the fight ended and no brawl occurred, but Condit was able to take home the Interim Welterweight Title and prove that he could stick to a smart gameplan.
3. Condit vs. Dong Hyun Kim (UFC 132)
Both fighters were riding three fight win streaks coming into this contest and were each looking to move towards a title fight. Kim was known as a large welterweight with a strong judo background and powerful top control. Condit was a well-known striker, but it was believed his ground game couldn’t survive against Kim. The fight started very tepid with both fighters striking at range. Following a takedown from Kim and a quick ground exchange, they resumed their battle at distance. Kim eventually moved backwards following a Condit strike and, when his back touched the fence, Condit saw the opening and launched a brutal flying knee that landed clean on Kim’s chin. The fight was waved off after some follow up shots from Condit and he showed once more that he was one of the top strikers in the MMA world.
2. Condit vs. Rory MacDonald (UFC 115)
Plenty of fighters find their backs against the wall when the third round finally comes, but few seize the moment like Condit did against Rory MacDonald. Condit was still early in his UFC run and MacDonald was believed to be one of the best up and comers in MMA. At the end of the second round, the fight had been incredibly competitive, but MacDonald was believed to be up on the scorecards. When Condit sat on the stool between rounds, trainer Greg Jackson informed him that he was down on the cards and, in one of Jackson’s most memorable moments, yelled at Condit that “it was about war!” Condit came out for the third round like a man possessed and took the fight to MacDonald immediately. After taking MacDonald to the ground, Condit threw everything he had. The referee was forced to stop the fight with only seven seconds to go in the final round and Condit was declared the victor by TKO.
1. Condit vs. Robbie Lawler (UFC 195)
Anyone who saw this fight knew it would be Condit’s greatest moment in the UFC so far. This fight was one of the most anticipated by fans, knowing that Condit and Robbie Lawler were two of the most accomplished strikers to step into the Octagon. What fans received when the fight was over was one of the greatest title fights and overall, one of the greatest fights ever seen. Neither man held anything back over the course of 25 minutes and pushed for the finish over the entire fight. When the final round began, it was believed that Lawler was behind in the scorecards and he took the fight to Condit harder than anyone before. Condit managed to survive and give back any offense he had left. Somehow both men were still standing when the final round ended and arguments could be made for either fighter to call themselves champion. Lawler was declared the winner by split decision and many fans would argue the fight was Condit’s, but the one fact all could agree on was that they had witnessed something amazing that night inside of the cage.
(Matthew Peterson is an MMATorch contributor who has been a fan of MMA since he first watched UFC 100. He currently resides with his wife in St. Cloud, Minn. He believes that Chris Lytle was God’s gift to fight fans and Cowboy Cerrone comes in at a close second. He can be reached at email@example.com on Twitter @mattpete1088.)