Carlos Condit is a hot topic these days. The last few weeks have been very tumultuous for The Natural Born Killer, and it's not surprising that seemingly everyone has an opinion on how he's been treated and who he should fight next. Josh Nason thinks Condit got screwed. Jonathan Snowden of MMA Nation believes that Condit never earned that title shot in the first place. Leland Roling believes that Jake Ellenberger is the best option for Condit's next fight. Luke Thomas of MMA Nation believes that Josh Koscheck vs. Condit is a terrible idea. And Matt Roth just wants you to know it's Movember (solid analysis as usual, Matt). A big question needs to be asked though:
Why is Carlos Condit so special all of a sudden?
Sure, he's a very talented fighter that has been on a nice four-fight winning streak over the last two years. But as Snowden rightfully said in his piece, he did absolutely nothing to earn a title shot. He just happened to be the only option available when Nick Diaz went temporarily crazy, and when Diaz beat B.J. Penn at UFC 137, the insanity ended and reality was restored. Why have people suddenly forgotten that Condit's winning streak was only good enough to earn a fight with B.J. Penn, not a fight with Georges St. Pierre? And to top it off, people really think the UFC should be protecting a future title shot by having Condit avoid the toughest challenge available for his next fight in February? I can't get on board with that. And I'm going to tell you why.
Many believe that Condit's next fight should be designed as a number one contender's matchup, and a bout against a guy like Josh Koscheck makes no sense since Kos wouldn't earn a title shot if he beat Condit. But that idea can be struck down with one simple fact - Condit was originally scheduled to face Penn at UFC 137. If Condit won, he would have earned a title shot. But if Penn won, he wasn't getting a third shot at GSP (if he had defeated Diaz). The UFC booked Condit against the toughest opponent available at the time, and if Penn won, they lost a potential challenger for the belt. They were willing to risk that, and it was the right decision.
Fast forward to today - if they book Condit against the toughest challenge available (hint - that's not Jake Ellenberger), it would be exactly the same type of matchmaking as UFC 137 was originally designed to be. If it's good enough for Joe Silva, why isn't it good enough for everyone else?
Speaking of Mr. Ellenberger, it seems that the general consensus is that Condit should rematch him in February instead of facing a higher-ranked fighter. The reasoning is that Ellenberger just beat Jake Shields, and the first fight between the two was very close. I have a few problems with that though, the biggest being that Condit beat Ellenberger just four fights ago. Yes, the fight was close. But Condit won, and a rematch this quickly is going back to the well way too soon. In addition, wrapping it up in the "you get a guaranteed title challenger from the matchup" logic isn't based in matchmaking reality, as I pointed out above. You also lose a potential title challenger in the process. Why not let them each take their own route to the top? They don't need to keep crossing paths on the way.
In addition to that, in what world does beating the same dude a second time suddenly make you worthy of a title shot? A second win over Ellenberger is way more valuable now because he dropped Jake Shields with a knee and decisioned Carlos Eduardo Rocha? No, it's not. Condit needs a bigger win to earn a legitimate shot at the title. And there's just one man for the job.
Ellenberger is undoubtedly a tough fight, but Condit should be facing a tougher challenge. He needs to earn a lot more credibility before the general public will take him seriously as a threat to Georges St. Pierre (if he beats Diaz in February). Condit's biggest weakness is his wrestling, and while Ellenberger is good, he's not an elite wrestler in the division. The biggest thing Condit can do for his credibility is to defeat an elite wrestler. There are three in the division. Two are available. One wants the fight.
Here's what should happen. Carlos Condit already beat Jake Ellenberger. If Condit wants to truly earn a credible title shot and the UFC wants to book the best fight possible, he should face Josh Koscheck in February. Koscheck is the highest-ranked available fighter, the fight is a lot more alluring to casual fans than Condit/Ellenberger 2, and Carlos needs that type of win to prove he's worthy of a fight with GSP. The armchair matchmakers can complain about the UFC throwing Condit to the wolves, or ruining a potential title challenger, or a dozen other things. They're still under the false impression that Condit deserves better, because Dana White gave him a gift for a couple of weeks. He does not deserve better. He should earn it like everyone else, and beating Jake Ellenberger again doesn't earn much of anything.
Bring on Kos.