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Welcome Back Carlos Condit, You’ve Been Sorely Missed

Fightland Blog

By Dan Shapiro

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

Remember that time Carlos Condit almost finished GSP? It was incredible. Condit landed a left head kick, shin flush on the former welterweight champ’s head, in the third round of their UFC 154 main event. It was the closest anyone’s come to stopping St. Pierre during his last 12 fights.

Then there was that time when Condit came back to top Rory MacDonald at UFC 115. That was epic.

With MacDonald looking impressive and dominant through the first two rounds of his UFC debut, Condit kicked it into overdrive in the third, using his wiry range and ninja style to lay a beating on the young Canadian. Referee Kevin Dornan stepped in to break up the ruckus with just seven seconds remaining, and to this day, MacDonald and his hometown Vancouver brethren are still more-than a little heated about the finish.

The list of wild and exciting Condit moments could go on; there was his flying knee finish of Dong Hyun Kim, the near comeback against Johny Hendricks at UFC 158, and his utter dismantling of Martin Kampmann that all but retired the Danishman. He’s provided some of the division’s most entertaining highlights, and finally, after 14 months of rehabbing his torn ACL, suffered in a freak TKO loss to Tyron Woodley at UFC 171, Condit returns to action this Saturday, May 30, against Thiago Alves.

Taking a look at Condit’s history, one could easily mistake his 6-4 UFC record and relegate the Natural Born Killer to gatekeeper status. He’s gone just 1-3 during the last three years, but make no mistake, Condit’s return shakes up the weight class in a big way.

I mean, think of all the possibilities…

Outside of this weekend’s main event against Alves, who is no slouch in his own right (just ask Jordan Mein about that thunderous body kick at UFC 183), there are at least five marquee matchups out there waiting for Condit. And the world of mixed martial arts will be a better place should we ever see Condit step into the Octagon with Matt Brown, Woodley, MacDonald, or Hendricks; to be honest, any of these wins should carry the merit to propel Condit back into the title hunt and a contest with current champion Robbie Lawler, who also brings that go-for-broke-style into the cage.

Let’s begin with a potential matchup against Matt Brown: two headhunters moving forward, trading wild strikes. There would certainly be elbows and knees in the clinch, Condit and Brown pressed up against the cage, but none of that wall-and-stall garbage, just sheer carnage.

A re-match with Woodley is also an option for Condit, but perhaps the least attractive of the bunch. No one really seems to want to fight Woodley these days on account of his strength and wrestling; Woodley has a way of sucking the life and excitement out of a bout. And, after hearing his recent stance of refusing lower-ranked opponents, it seems unlikely that Woodley would accept a bout with a fighter he’s already beaten, albeit by injury TKO.

Next up, there’s a second potential re-match, this time against MacDonald. And if there were ever an ideal headliner for the UFC’s next trip to Vancouver, it would be this bout, especially if MacDonald is successful in his UFC 189 title shot against Lawler.

MacDonald has evolved tremendously as a fighter in the last five years. He’s a bigger, stronger, smarter athlete than he was when Condit delivered one of MMA’s more memorable comebacks. And the thought of a MacDonald-Condit main event at Rogers Arena would certainly be a huge boost over the recent UFC cards offered on Canadian soil.

Another fight out there for Condit would be yet a third-straight re-match, this time against Hendricks. But let’s just hope it’d be a five-rounder.

Condit actually went public with his belief that number-one contender bouts should also receive the 25-minute treatment. Perhaps it’s because of his slow-starting style, or his ability to adapt game plans as the rounds progress, but following his loss to Hendricks, Condit became vocal about his preference to fight in longer bouts. And looking at the UFC 158 co-main event, it’s very clear to see why.

Hendricks dominated the first 10 minutes of the bout, setting up takedowns with the threat of his big left hand. And while Condit’s wrestling defense may not be the strongest, his flexibility on the bottom and submission skills make him a threat wherever the fight goes, as evidenced by the third round against Hendricks.

Staying active in guard, Condit weathered Hendricks’ best shots. He used the first two rounds to figure out timing and range, so when the bell sounded for the third, Condit was able to back up and gauge counterstrikes. Although Hendricks took the bout 29-28 on all three scorecards, there’s no telling what Condit could have done with an additional frame or two.

And then there’s Lawler, the champ, and one of the ballsiest fighters out there. Doesn’t a bout with Condit just sound too good to be true?

Sure, Lawler owns an edge in the wrestling department, but neither of these two is really into stalling the action. Consider Lawler’s methodical and rhythmic forward march, countered with Condit’s arsenal of kicks and hooks. It’s one of those dreamy bouts anyone involved in mixed martial arts would take note of.

Even beyond these lucrative, big-name fights, there are other interesting matchups out there for Condit. A date with the surging Neil Magny comes to mind, even a contest against Gunnar Nelson could suffice.

And therein lies the beauty of Carlos Condit. No matter who you pit him against, save Nick Diaz, the bout is certain to be entertaining and technical, explosive and calculated.

So let’s hear it for the Natural Born Killer. Mixed martial arts is glad to have you back inside the Octagon.

 

Check out these related stories:

The Left Hook with Carlos Condit

The Art of Attack: The Linocut Portraits of Matt Ward

Fight Doctor - Carlos Condit's Bum Knee

 

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