Carlos Condit quietly munched on his breakfast at a restaurant in the Four Seasons in Las Vegas, explaining repeatedly why he wasn't overcome by emotion at unexpectedly landing a fight with Georges St-Pierre.
It was early September 2011 and only a couple of hours since UFC president Dana White had angrily yanked Nick Diaz from the card at UFC 137 and his welterweight title with St-Pierre.
Diaz had missed a series of news conferences to promote the event and White had finally had enough. He switched Condit from a fight with ex-champion B.J. Penn and inserted him into the main event opposite St-Pierre.
It was, in many ways, the break that Condit had been dreaming of for years. By that point, he was well known as an elite fighter within the small MMA community, but beyond those borders, he was still relatively anonymous.
Anonymity usually doesn't bring big paychecks or public acclaim and certainly doesn't provide security for one's family.
But Condit wasn't overcome by the whirlwind events that suddenly had landed him in the spotlight. He was quiet and serious, as if he had planned for the moment for his whole life.
"This is part of the job," he said, explaining why the hubbub that suddenly filled his life hadn't impacted his placid demeanor.
But before he got the chance to fulfill his dream, he found himself confronting another bizarre set of circumstances. St-Pierre injured a knee a short while later and couldn't fight at UFC 137. So, White dropped Condit from the card and made Diaz the main event against Penn.
In a matter of days, Condit had gone from fighting a future Hall of Famer in the co-main event to fighting the UFC's biggest star in the main event to ultimately sitting on the sidelines with no fight at all.
It's the way he reacted to that news that was telling. He accepted it in the same calm, professional manner that has defined his career. He didn't rant and rave. He didn't curse White, fate or the UFC.
He dealt with it and moved on.
"It is what it is," Condit said, shrugging his shoulders.
More than a year later, Condit finally will get his chance. He beat Diaz at UFC 143 to become the interim champion while St-Pierre was sidelined with another, more serious knee injury. On Saturday, he'll meet the finally healed St-Pierre for the title at the Bell Centre in the main event of UFC 154.
And if you think he'll be overwhelmed by the moment, then you don't know Carlos Condit.
His nickname is the "Natural Born Killer," which is in homage to his 26 finishes among his 28 professional wins. But what he is, in truth, is a natural born thinker.
He's not going to be overwhelmed by the circumstances because he's thought it through thoroughly and is as prepared as a Boy Scout for every eventuality.
"You know that when you fight a guy like Georges, there are going to be a lot of demands on your time and you just have to be able to find a way to deal with it," he said. "The most important thing is, I can't let my obligations to promote the fight interfere with my obligation to get ready to fight. Training has to be my priority, so I just had figure how to get done everything I needed so I could satisfy all aspects of my job. It's mostly being smart with your time management."
Condit was born and raised in Albuquerque, N.M., and has worked at Jackson's MMA, the gym where St-Pierre matured into a star. Though they were technically teammates, they didn't train together and didn't know each other well.
St-Pierre was, Condit said, "very classy and a very nice guy," whenever they met, but there was little personal interaction between them.
Condit knew that he would wind up across from St-Pierre in a cage some day and that impacted the way their relationship developed, at least from Condit's perspective.
Thus, there is no civil war as happened when one-time Jackson's teammates Jon Jones and Rashad Evans had a falling out.
"I don't know if Georges felt that way, but I did," Condit said. "I knew, 'Hey, one day, I'm probably going to have to fight that guy.' It was pretty obvious that Georges was one of the top fighters in the world, if not the top, and I knew if I was going to get there, he was a guy I would eventually have to meet."
That fight is finally near, and so is Condit's shot at stardom. There are many around the sport who are privately picking him to win, though he remains about a 3-1 underdog.
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In typical fashion, though, Condit has low keyed everything. He's spent most of the past nine months holed away in the gym, working to prepare. Some weeks have been intense and others more casual, but he's continued to build to his moment.
It's his first shot at the truly big time, but he's prepared for this day from his earliest moments as a pro.
"If you put the time in and you do your work and you eliminate the surprises, then you give yourself the best shot," Condit said. "I feel like I've done what I can do and I haven't left anything to chance."
He'll shed his cloak of anonymity once and for all when he climbs into the cage with the sport's biggest star on Saturday, but rest assured, this is no overnight sensation.
He's no supernova. He's going to be around for a while.
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