Dana White said it emphatically, clearly, forcefully: Carlos Condit is the man.
The UFC's No. 2 welterweight is set to fight Martin Kampmann in the main event of a Fox Sports 1-televised card Wednesday in Indianapolis, and he seemingly enters the bout with a lot of pressure on his shoulders.
He's officially lost his last two bouts, unanimous decisions to welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and No. 1 contender Johny Hendricks.
But more than a few also believe that his last win, a victory over Nick Diaz in an interim title fight at UFC 143 in 2012, should have been a defeat.
By any measure, though, Condit has lost two in a row, and three losses in a row in the UFC aren't a good thing.
"He's in a great spot," White told Yahoo! Sports. "A lot of people thought he won that fight with Hendricks. There were some who felt Hendricks won it, but there were a lot of people who thought [Condit] won it. He's the No. 2 ranked guy in the world. That's a great position to be in. Other than being the champion, or being No. 1, he's in a damn good spot, though. Condit is the man."
Things, though, would change dramatically with a repeat of the 2009 fight between Condit and Kampmann. Kampmann won what many considered a controversial decision in Condit's UFC debut.
It was a close, compelling bout. Condit clearly has made great progress since then and is a more dangerous fighter than he was nearly four years ago and is expected to win this fight.
If he doesn't win it, however, his boss may no longer regard him as 'The Man.' The fight will have great implications for both men.
"One of the reasons that I like this so much is because of what the outcome means," White said. "Both of them have a ton to lose. It would be devastating for Condit to lose this fight. And it would mean everything in the world for Kampmann to win it. Those are the kinds of fights as a fan you get jacked up to see, when the stakes are so high for both guys."
The low-key Condit is the pro's pro and he never seems to be ruffled by much of anything. He understands the significance of a win to his career, but his focus is much narrower.
He lost that first fight and he wants to win Wednesday mainly because he wants to avenge the defeat and even the score.
"I don't like a guy going around having one up on me," Condit said, simply. "I don't like that and I want to make that right."
He'll face a tough task in getting his revenge. Kampmann is a well-rounded fighter who has several significant wins in the UFC, including victories over Thiago Alves and Jake Ellenberger.
But there is a sense within the sport that as good as Kampmann has been, he hasn't shown nearly the best of himself.
"The mental part of the game is something I've relied upon, but it's definitely been something that's been a problem of mine," said Kampmann, who has been plagued throughout his UFC career by slow starts. "It's something I've worked a lot on and I think I've got it going in the right direction. I feel like I have a lot left to show. The UFC hasn't seen the best of me. Far from it.
"I'm not sure what that is. I used to fight more tenacious when it was just a hobby. When it's my livelihood, maybe I've gotten a little more cautious and fight with less of a killer instinct, except when I'm hurt."
Both vow they'll fight with said killer instinct when they meet Wednesday. Condit is coming off back-to-back losses, while Kampmann is coming off a quick, first-round knockout loss to Hendricks. In addition, Kampmann is just 3-3 in his last six outings.
So, a loss for either guy will not necessarily be fatal to their career aspirations, but it will drop them well down the pecking order with a lot of work to do to get back into contention.
White calls both of them "exceptionally talented guys," but one exceptionally talented guy is going to have big problems come Thursday morning.
"I think you'll see them fight like they have something to prove," White said. "If they think they're the best in the world, I've said this to you a million times, then you shouldn't worry about fighting anyone. You don't hold back. You don't worry about anything. You get out there and you fight your [expletive] off to try to win it."
The likelihood is high that they'll each do that. But when it is over, one man is going to be looking at a difficult road.
"That's fighting, man; that's this business," White said. "It's not supposed to be easy to win or to get title shots when you reach this level."
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- Carlos Condit
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- Johny Hendricks
- Dana White