Carlos Condit may have been the second choice to fight Georges St. Pierre for the welterweight title at UFC 137 on Oct. 29, but anyone who insists he hasn't earned the shot hasn't been paying attention.
The former World Extreme Cagefighting champion has been on a tear since losing a heartbreaking split decision to Martin Kampmann in his UFC debut on April 1, 2009.
Since then, Condit has decisioned Jake Ellenberger, stopped Rory MacDonald, knocked out Dan Hardy and pummeled Dong Hyun Kim. He's gotten better each time out and showed not only a more varied game, but also a killer instinct.
He got the spot when Nick Diaz was yanked from the main event after missing several news conferences, leading some to question the legitimacy of Condit’s shot. But I'd suggest that beating Ellenberger, MacDonald, Hardy and Kim is more impressive than consecutive wins over Hayato "Mach" Sakurai, K.J. Noons, Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos and Paul Daley, which Diaz has done as the last four bouts of a 10-fight win streak.
"I've had some ups and downs in my career," said Condit, who is about a 3-1 underdog. "To finally be at this point where I could possibly be the welterweight champion, it's huge. I earned it. No matter what happened with Diaz and that whole thing, I think that I'm legitimately the No. 1 contender, and I've earned this shot."
Because trainer Greg Jackson has worked with both men, he has said he will sit out the battle. Condit, who is 27-5, said he sensed years ago that he may someday have to fight St. Pierre. As a result, while the two both trained at Jackson's MMA in Albquerque, N.M., they didn't fraternize much.
St. Pierre spends most of his time training with Firas Zihabi in Montreal anyway, but Condit was careful to keep the lines between them separate. He's hired Mike Winkeljohn and Chris Luttrell as his coaches.
"Since I've been at Jackson's, he hasn't been there a whole lot, and when he has, we've kind of stayed to our respective sides of the gym," Condit said. "I think that we saw this on the horizon. I definitely did."
Condit cried when he heard the news that he'd be fighting for the UFC welterweight title. He had difficulty understanding Diaz' decision to skip two news conferences that ultimately led to Diaz being yanked from the bout with St. Pierre, but he wasn't complaining.
"At this level, there is more to it than just the fight," Condit said. "There are a lot of responsibilities that come with it, and if you can't fulfill them, then you shouldn't be fighting for the title."
• It appears that Frank Trigg, the former welterweight contender whose bout at UFC 52 with Matt Hughes is one of the greatest in UFC history, has reached the end of the line. He lost a split decision in England on Saturday to "Judo" Jimmy Wallhead on a BAMMA card. But Trigg is a natural for a spot on the UFC on Fox broadcasts and, hopefully, Fox and UFC brass will give him consideration.
• Josh Barnett deserves to be the favorite in the Strikeforce World Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament finale when he meets Daniel Cormier, but Cormier is going to be very difficult for him to beat. Cormier has improved tremendously in the last year, to which his knockout of Antonio Silva in the semifinals attests.
• The winner of the Strikeforce Grand Prix deserves to be given the heavyweight title that was vacated when Zuffa released Alistair Overeem and later re-signed him to a UFC contract. Barnett and Cormier have beaten the best guys in the division and the winner should, without question, be recognized as the champion.
• Jake Shields is showing an amazing amount of toughness, mental strength and courage by fighting Jake Ellenberger on Saturday at UFC Fight Night Live in New Orleans only three weeks after his father, Jack, died. Jack Shields managed his son and the pair had an exceptionally close relationship.
• The UFC's middleweight division will be improved on Saturday with Alan Belcher's return from a detached retina.
Was Diaz framed?
Hey Kevin, I'm very upset with Nick Diaz bailing out of the recent UFC 137 press conference with welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre in Toronto. For whatever real reason, only Nick knows, but then just days later, Diaz failed to show in Vegas, as well. Perhaps he wasn't invited for embarrassing UFC president Dana White, and things were set up to look like Diaz was scheduled to appear (I'm very jaded), the way this is panning out. I'll be quite surprised if he shows up at Mandalay Bay Events Center on Oct. 29 to face B.J. Penn. What's going on and do you think it would be in Nick's best interest to address his fans and the MMA world by clearing the air by making another video?
Chris, there is no question that Nick should have done what he said he would do, which is to attend the news conferences in Toronto and Las Vegas. Those news conferences only serve to make the fighters more money, because they promote the bouts and increase pay-per-view sales. That said, I guarantee you the UFC did not set anything up. That's completely ridiculous. It caused them a great deal of difficulty and expense, and if they wanted to have Carlos Condit as the next challenger, they simply would have done that. No one is saying Nick has to become the most talkative fighter on the planet, but he needs to at least do what all of his peers do. Doing these things is part of the job at the highest level. At this point, it's pretty clear what his position is, so nothing is going to change. If he wants to make a video, that's up to him, but I don't think there is a need for it, by any means.
UFC protecting GSP
Seriously, about Nick Diaz being pulled from the fight against Georges St. Pierre at UFC 137, it's only common sense that Dana White won't let his golden boy get beat before they can show him off to the new Fox audience going into 2012. They need St. Pierre to be the champion for a little while. If Diaz was the champ going into 2012, that would only justify people's prejudices about MMA about being a bunch of barbaric savages. The real St. Pierre-Diaz fight will be the biggest of all time!
James, I'm just not following your logic. The only reason Nick Diaz isn't fighting Georges St. Pierre is because of Nick Diaz. Period, end of story. And your point that the UFC needs St. Pierre to be its champion is ludicrous. If the UFC needed anyone to be champion, it would have been Brock Lesnar. Lesnar is clearly the UFC's biggest draw and so if the UFC wanted to manipulate things to an extent that they could essentially have who they wanted as champion, they never would have matched him with Cain Velasquez. Diaz is a legitimate world-class fighter and the UFC would have no problem with him as its champion, if he were good enough to beat St. Pierre.
Did dos Santos try to make a statement?
In watching the Junior dos Santos-Shane Carwin fight at UFC 131, dos Santos took down Carwin twice late in the third round. Do you think he did this to make a statement to heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, who was sitting at ringside? Also, I have heard no comments about the guillotine that Carwin secured during the second takedown that appeared very tight and, which, in my opinion, could have ended the fight in a submission win for Carwin had there been more time on the clock.
I don't remember the fight play-by-play specifically now, as it was in June, but I feel confident that dos Santos wasn't doing anything to impress Velasquez and was simply trying to win the fight. He had dominated the bout to that point and continuing to stand and fight that way with Carwin presented the greatest risk. Carwin is a tremendous puncher and all it took was one punch to end it. So, putting Carwin on his back eliminated his strength, which, in the final seconds of a bout, is a smart thing to do. Dos Santos himself said he was never in difficulty from the guillotine, so I'll take him at his word. I really look forward to seeing him challenge Velasquez for the heavyweight title on Nov. 12.
"If Mo whatever the [expletive] his name is, or any of those guys, think I planned all this [expletive] this week, they're out of their minds. Yes, we signed [Alistair] Overeem and made the Brock [Lesnar] fight. Do you think I expected Nick Diaz to pull this [expletive]? We have all kinds of stuff going and I didn't need this in my life. It is what it is and I never had a thought in my mind of [expletive] with Strikeforce. But I promote the UFC 24/7." – UFC president Dana White, reacting to complaints that light heavyweight Mo Lawal made regarding the lack of attention last week’s Strikeforce card received.
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