Former welterweight title contender Carlos Condit can't be too shocked at the events that unfolded at UFC 137 on Saturday night in Las Vegas, Nevada. Despite being dubbed the #1 contender after Diaz no-showed two consecutive press conferences, did anybody actually believe UFC President Dana White would stick by his word that Condit would face St. Pierre next? An impressive beatdown of UFC legend B.J. Penn and the subsequent call-out of St. Pierre during the post-fight interview is all it took for White to reconsider Diaz.
White stated that Condit stepped aside during the post-fight press conference, but it was later revealed that St. Pierre was angered by Diaz's remarks and wanted the fight. We can trick ourselves into believing St. Pierre has total control over who he fights next. In reality, the UFC likely sees the potential business this fight could bring, and waiting will only lessen the dollars it could produce for the company. Strike while the iron is hot as the saying goes.
Depending on how you look at it, the situation could be construed in a number of different ways. One of the stronger opinions is that Condit was a victim, unfairly tossed from title contention even though Diaz was punished for his incompetence. Diaz's actions outside of the cage aren't relevant, however, when he's stepping into the cage and bombarding a UFC legend. Those actions speak louder to fans than anything else.
So here we are. Diaz vs. St. Pierre is happening whether Carlos Condit feels cheated or not. What's the next move for the Team Jackson fighter?
The logical choice is a rematch with Jake Ellenberger. Condit holds a split decision win over the Nebraska-native at UFC Fight Night 19 back in September of '09, but Ellenberger's fifty-three second knockout of Jake Shields at UFC Fight Night 25 in September along with a five-fight winning streak has vaulted him into contention talk.
Jon Fitch is another option, although he's tied up in December when he battles Johny Hendricks at UFC 141. That leaves Josh Koscheck and Anthony Johnson as upper-tier welterweights basking in the sun waiting for a phone call.
Koscheck is likely out if Condit's next fight is for contention. He's already fought St. Pierre twice and lost both encounters by unanimous decision. The UFC won't risk Koscheck somehow derailing a contender they can line up against St. Pierre and sell as fresh blood.
'Rumble' Johnson remains, but does he have the resume to stake a claim at fighting for contention? After losing to Koscheck at UFC 106 in November of '09, Johnson was shelved for sixteen months due to injuries, returning in March to defeat Dan Hardy via unanimous decision. He most recently crushed Pennsylvania-based wrestler Charlie Brenneman at UFC on Versus 6 on October 1.
In my mind, Johnson's accomplishments aren't enough, nor has he been in the eye of UFC fans long enough after the layoff to produce any buzz for a showdown with Condit. While both Condit and Ellenberger are far from popular, recognizable fighters, a rematch between the two makes the most sense. Their past engagement can serve as a storyline to build hype around the fight, and it is considered a fight between the two clear cut frontrunners. Make it happen.