Hear me out. I'm not saying Condit is the favorite to win this fight, I'm just trying to say that he has several advantages in his favor that other previous challengers matched up against GSP didn't enjoy
What is GSP's greatest strength as a fighter?
While all those are factors, the most defining factor in GSP's success is the design and execution of his game plan. By his own admission it takes months (I remember him saying something like 3 months of strategy prep. but I might be in the wrong here) for him to prepare a proper gameplan for each of his opponents and train accordingly. Since his last defeat, GSP has strived to become the kryptonite of every guy he's faced. Although, surrounded by an all-star team of coaches, the main man behind GSP in that regard is Greg Jackson. Yup, the one who also trains Condit and thus will be sitting out this fight.
See where I'm heading?
GSP has 2 months to redo his research and prepare without his main man.Condit
On the other hand we have Condit. He can be described as young, hungry and, more importantly a finisher (his record, especially his first round finishes, is eloquent in that regard). His skill-set and what he brings to the table is not as dependent as GSP on strategy; he does not fight title fights that drag on, but relies more on a more instinctive, riskier approach to fighting that results in more exciting and subsequently more unpredictable fights. Condit's more aggressive fighting style really puts pressure on his opponents and forces them to react to how Condit fights, while at the same time not allowing the opposition to impose their will on Condit and dictate the tone of the fight
Condit is not as dependent on gameplans as GSP, this change up will not affect him as much.The Penn factor
Then there's BJ Penn. BJ is a world-class fighter. His BJJ is top-notch, his boxing is top-notch all in all despite the rough patch he's been through as of late, he's one of the best fighters in the division. You can bet your ass that Jackson prepared Condit for the equivalent of a title fight. When we look at this from Condit's perspective, I see very little difference in training for GSP vs. training for Penn. You have to prepare for both guys boxing and be wary of takedowns. Maybe in the leg department and the cardio department things change a little, but I'd say it's a marginal difference.
Condit's training for Penn will serve just as well for GSP. The change will probably affect him even less than the strength versus weakness comparison of points 1 and 2.The Diaz factor
Although similar in many respects to Diaz, Condit is a different animal. GSP must have spent hours upon hours dissecting Diaz. Basically, GSP has spent the last months trying to figure out a fighter that in my (completely subjective) opinion is unfigurable. Going from Quantum physics to Arithmetics might not be hard, but suddenly 2 + 2 = 4 might not seem as simple as it is once was
GSP's training for Diaz "might" serve him versus Condit but that's not a given. Although, a gamer, Condit is not as unpredictable as Diaz.
Overall, I think that Condit is the one benefiting the most from this change.mitigating factors
- 5 rounds: even for a 1st round finisher, the perspective of a five-rounder must be daunting for Condit.
- Confidence: despite all this, GSP is by now use to championship fights. Condit on the otherhand is not. Will the short delay help or aggravate Condit's nervousness? time will tell.
- GSP's a freaking robot/monster: Although GSP does not dominate in a spectacular fashion à la Anderson Silva he does manhandle his opponents. It is my (completely subjective) opinion that GSP has never been in danger at any moment in a fight since his last lost (I have difficulty adding the Shields fight to my analysis, the injury he sustained made that fight different than his other fights). He fights safe and he simply does not make mistakes (I can't remember GSP ever making a bad decision in the octogone, he always uses the best possible strategy in all circumstances and, more importantly, when in doubt, plays it safe).
- Heavy is the head that bears the crown: GSP, faced with a seemingly inferior opponent (I'm not too sure of that) in comparison to his previous adversary will have more pressure to finish. Finishing means taking risks, leaving openings. Will he succumb to the temptation or will it be business as usual?
What say you?