It wasn’t long ago that exciting UFC welterweight contender Carlos Condit was totally out of the frame in terms of the title mix. Suffering a torn ACL in his UFC 171 bout against Tyron Woodley, ‘The Natural Born Killer’ would go without a fight for 14 months before returning to the octagon. Successfully returning with a TKO win over Thiago Alves this past May, the fan-pleasing Condit was back, but few expected him to get the title shot as the number four in the division, especially not with Tyron Woodley and Johny Hendricks knocking on the door.
Then the sensational news of UFC 193 came out, the 70,000 seater Etihad Stadium would play host to the promotion, and it would be a welterweight title tilt between Robbie Lawler (C) and Carlos Condit headlining the card in Melbourne, Australia. ‘Bigg Rigg’ and ‘The Chosen One’ were obviously displeased with the booking, but the overall reaction from fans and media was a sense of excitement.
Speaking to Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, the Greg Jackson’s product and former interim boss says that sometimes you just have to step on a few toes to get to the top:
“I thought that I had a chance, it was a little bit of a long shot. We started pushing for a title shot that night, sometimes it’s what you ask for, aim high and shoot high and maybe you’ll get those things you’re wishing for. I can see where they’re coming from, but I’m trying to get mine. I don’t worry about who I upset, but they shouldn’t be upset with me, it’s who made the decision, I’m trying to get in the biggest fights and get the belt. You won’t get to the top level without stepping on some toes.”
The stylistic match-up makes for an obvious best seller, but ‘Ruthless’ does present quite a puzzle to anyone in the top flight right now. His refined striking, footwork, patience and overall improved game is forcing contenders to really step up their game, as Rory MacDonald did at UFC 189. Even in doing so, ‘Red King’ was finished brutally in the late stages of the all-time classic fight, and Condit says he’s been sizing Lawler up from UFC 189 and back:
“I watched it live, it was an incredible fight. When we signed the bout agreement it was like ‘Oh man, what did I get myself in to, how do we beat this guy?’ Everybody at this level is so well rounded, technically sound, but I get more confident as we go through camp, he’s a man like anybody else. He has strengths and weaknesses, I’m figuring it out.”
“Some guys have ups and downs in their career, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen somebody come back with a vengeance. The guys a born fighter, I really think he has matured as a fighter, he grew from his tough losses. Sometimes it’s about falling on your ass and then learning from it.”
Often dubbed the ‘king of gameplans’, Greg Jackson is probably the best candidate for the blueprints to beat Lawler. Even so, this is a very tough fight for Condit, and he’ll need to be in his best form ever to be in with a shot at winning the strap. In summary, ‘NBK’ says that the fans win in the UFC 193 main event:
This is the fight people want to see. We are both warriors at the top of our game. Every time we step in the octagon we put on a show, that’s why the title fight makes sense, maybe it doesn’t for the rankings. Since he’s been back I’ve certainly been sizing him up.”
It’s a bout that we all want to see, few will miss it, and it could be viewed by over 70,000 eager fans in the stadium on fight night. Will Carlos Condit set himself up for the biggest win of his career in Australia, or does Robbie Lawler add another name to his growing list of elite scalps?