Carlos Condit anxious to fight Nick Diaz
LAS VEGAS – You can’t out-crazy Nick Diaz.
At least that’s what his trainer/manager Cesar Gracie said on the second episode of UFC Primetime, and Carlos Condit isn’t about to try.
Diaz is not only one of the world’s elite mixed martial arts fighters, but he’s also one of its greatest enigmas. Diaz can be an intimidating presence even for the toughest men in the world. He’s impossible to figure out for those who don’t know him intimately.
And because people are often fearful of what they don’t understand, Diaz can psych out men accustomed to playing the role of intimidator.
Diaz managed to get into UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre’s head so thoroughly last fall that St. Pierre would clench his fists when he was about to step off of an elevator at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino for fear Diaz might be there and start winging punches at him.
Condit, though, simply shrugs. If Diaz is in his head, he doesn’t show it. He’ll meet Diaz on Saturday in the main event of UFC 143 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center for the interim UFC welterweight and he’s as calm as fight night nears as he would be if he were fishing on a quiet lake with his dad.
It’s said one has to be a little crazy to want to be a fighter and there are many who might see Condit, an Albuquerque, N.M., native who once held the World Extreme Cagefighting welterweight title, as plenty crazy himself.
A guy who fought for fun beginning in elementary school, who eagerly went to the gym daily as a teenager knowing he’d get beaten down by men twice his age, probably doesn’t qualify as normal.
Condit, though, doesn’t care. Crazy, not crazy, it doesn’t matter.
“It’s not what you say or how you act,” Condit said. “At the end of the day, when all is said and done, it’s what you do when the bell rings that really matters.”
What Condit does, and what he has done for years just about as well as anyone, is fight. He’s won four matches in a row and 12 of his last 13, beating some of the sport’s most notable names along the way. Overall, he’s 27-5 with 26 finishes – 13 by knockout and 13 by submission.
For all of his accomplishments, though, he’s only now rounding into his prime. Despite being just 27, he’s been a pro for nearly half of his life. He fought for pay for the first time when he was 16 and never really considered doing anything else.
“I started fighting when I was in elementary school,” Condit said. “We didn’t fight because we didn’t like you, or we were out to kick ass, we just fought because that’s what we thought was fun.
“As I got a little older, I was training and sparring with grown men. I think the reason I survived and did so well is that I wasn’t intimidated. I knew that in fighting, sometimes you get your butt kicked and sometimes, you do the butt-kicking. It was always a matter of trying to learn and trying to get better.”
He’s had plenty of time to work on his game since his last outing, an eye-opening first-round win over Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 132 in July, which he won with a vicious flying knee.
That victory moved him into what he thought would be the bout that would set the stage for the rest of his career, an Oct. 29 fight at Mandalay Bay in the co-main event of UFC 137.
Condit’s life has, thanks in part to Diaz and in part to the peculiarities of the fight game, been a mess the last six months. In October, as Condit was preparing to fight B.J. Penn, he was called by UFC president Dana White and offered a bout in the main event for the welterweight title against Georges St. Pierre.
Diaz had skipped back-to-back press conferences to promote the bout and White angrily yanked him from the card, putting Condit into his place.
Condit flew to Las Vegas, signed a contract and dutifully did all of his media chores, talking about his good fortune. Not long after, though, he received another call, this one not so good: St. Pierre was out with an injured knee. And just as quickly, Diaz was back, brought onto the card and given a spot in the restructured main event against Penn.
That left Condit with no fight.
Then, after Diaz dominated Penn, White announced that Diaz would get his title shot against St. Pierre after all, at UFC 143. But then St. Pierre suffered another, more serious knee injury, so Condit came back onto the card to replace him.
Condit had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Yet it’s had precious little impact on him.
“It’s obviously very hard to deal with all of that and it’s a lot to ask of anybody,” said his coach, Greg Jackson, who first met Condit when Condit was just 17 years old. “He’s done very well with it and if it’s affected him, it hasn’t shown in the gym. He’s a super mentally tough individual and it’s at times like this that it comes in handy.”
One of the challenges that faces Condit is to match Diaz’s pace. Diaz is one of the best conditioned athletes in sports and he breaks other fighters’ will by competing at a pace few can keep.
Diaz does triathlons in his spare time and is so dedicated to his training that he’s as much a fixture in the gym as the lights on the ceiling and the mats on the floor.
It takes an extraordinary level of conditioning to compete with Diaz, and dealing with the mental pressure of his perceived craziness can drain some of that. But former UFC fighter Frank Trigg, who was submitted by Condit in a 2006 bout, believes Condit will be able to deal with the situation.
“There is a lot of pressure on guys because now, if you win a series of three or four fights, or just look amazing in that one fight, the right one, the UFC can make you a millionaire many times over overnight,” Trigg said. “They can take all of your concerns about taking care of your kids, and your kids’ kids, away, with just one good fight. Of course, guys want that.
“That puts a tremendous amount of pressure on guys and it drains a lot from you mentally if you let it. When you start putting all that stuff together, it can have a significant impact. But Carlos is a different guy; I’ve never seen any of that stuff affect him.”
Few fighters in the world are able to fight at the pace that Diaz does, but Jackson believes Condit is one of them.
“If he peaks the right way and fights to his potential, he’s capable of matching Nick’s pace and not be dominated by it,” Jackson said. “Nick really can break you down, because he keeps on you and on you, but if Carlos fights to his potential, he can match that pace. He’s an incredible endurance athlete and that’s his one big advantage, that he’s neck and neck with Nick on Nick’s one big strong point.”
Condit has been itching to get back, but he’s smart enough to not make it bigger than what it is. It’s a fight, and he’s been fighting for as long as he remembers.
When the door closes and the bell rings, Condit will finally be home.
“There’s nothing I love to do more in this world than to fight, and that gives me a certain amount of peace, knowing that after all of this time away and with everything that’s going on, it’s not too long until I’ll get to do what I love to do again,” Condit said. “That’s the fun part for me.”
Not too many fighters would say 25 minutes in a cage with Nick Diaz is fun, or an appealing prospect. Carlos Condit is one of them, though.
And crazy or not, here he comes.
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