Carlos Condit calls for higher paydays in UFC

Carlos Condit (Getty Images)
Carlos Condit (Getty Images)

Word leaked out only seconds after Carlos Condit lost a razor-thin decision to Robbie Lawler for the welterweight title at UFC 195 that he was thinking of retiring.

It had been something he’d been thinking of for a while.

Though he lost that bout to Lawler, dropping him to 2-4 in his previous six fights, two things were nonetheless crystal clear: Condit remained one of the elite mixed martial artists in the world, as well as one of its most exciting.

Given that, it was a bit staggering to hear Condit discuss retirement when he is in the midst of his prime as a fighter.

Condit had very practical reasons for at least considering stepping away.

“I love fighting and I love this sport, and as a competitor, I never really wanted to step away,” he told Yahoo Sports. “But I have to be practical. I kind of had to think about how long I could continue to do this.

“I’d been thinking about it for a long time and had been talking about it with my wife.”

Fortunately for fight fans, Condit chose to remain active, and on Saturday, he’ll meet Demian Maia in the main event of a nationally televised show on Fox at Rogers Centre in Vancouver.

The bout pits the third- and fourth-ranked welterweights in the UFC’s rankings and can lead Condit to yet another title shot.

It’s been more than four years since Condit has won back-to-back fights. When he won a decision over Nick Diaz to claim the interim welterweight title at UFC 143 on Feb. 4, 2012, it was his fifth win in a row.

Since then, he’s gone 2-4, but that mark can come with an asterisk. First, the losses were to the four most recent welterweight champions: Georges St-Pierre, Johny Hendricks, current champion Tyron Woodley and Lawler.
He was injured in his bout with Woodley, who said before he fought Lawler for the title last month in Atlanta that Condit had hit him harder than anyone he’d ever faced.

Condit doesn’t have any reason to apologize for his record, given there were so many close bouts and the caliber of opposition.

And given how close he remains to a title shot – it certainly is conceivable with a convincing win over Maia that the UFC will pair him with the winner of the expected bout between Woodley and Stephen Thompson – he felt it was best to move forward with his career.

Condit, whose wife is pregnant, also realized it made sense financially to keep fighting.

The UFC is on a roll, with a high number of pay-per-views in the last 18 months that nearly reached or surpassed 1 million pay-per-view buys. There is more money to be made for the fighters given that.

Just in the last six weeks, the UFC has given out the three largest guarantees in its history: $2.5 million to Brock Lesnar at UFC 200 on July 9; $3 million to Conor McGregor and $2 million to Nate Diaz at UFC 202 on Aug. 20.

“The financial aspects of it certainly came into play,” Condit said. “This is what I do for a living and this is how I support my family. I’m not ready to transition to something else.”

But Condit is one of a growing number of fighters who believe the time is at hand for fighter salaries to increase.

Noted sports agent Jeff Borris and attorney Lucas Middlebrook have created what they call the Professional Fighters Association, and are attempting to unionize UFC fighters.

Given how close the end of his career is and how long it might be before a union is ever voted in and a collective bargaining agreement reached, it may not benefit Condit.

But he believes, as Borris and Middlebrook are telling fighters they meet with, that the fighters deserve a bigger cut of the pie.

“This is not a bad time to be fighting and change is on the horizon,” he said. “Fighter compensation should change and [fighters] should get a larger share of the pie.

“It think it’s overdue, honestly. Whether I benefit all that much from [a union] or I don’t, because I am toward the end of my career, it needs to happen. There are players associations in all the other major sports. If the UFC is going to continue to grow and be legitimate, we have to get together. The fighters have to get together and have some leverage.”

Condit will have a lot of leverage in an argument for another title shot should he beat Maia. At that point he’ll be ranked no worse than third, and perhaps as high as second depending upon what happens when the Woodley-Thompson fight goes down.

Condit, though, has been around long enough to know that nothing is guaranteed, particularly a title shot.

The only thing he can do is state his case as emphatically as possible with his performance Saturday against Maia.

“It depends upon how I beat him,” Condit said when asked if he felt he’d get a title shot with a victory. “If I beat him in spectacular fashion, I believe that will give me enough of an argument to get another title shot. It depends upon the performance I put on.

“I have to play to my strengths and avoid the areas where he is strong. If you look, I think I have just as much of an advantage on my feet as he does on the ground. I’ve put a great strategy together and I’m super confident in how I’m going to perform.”