Eight months prior to Zuffa purchasing Strikeforce and making many of the fantasy fights a matter of when, not what if, Strikeforce’s welterweight champion decided to vacate his title and move to the UFC. One fantasy prayer was answered: Jake Shields was set to take on GSP. The fight went to a decision (I know, I was surprised too) in favor of St. Pierre. The game of UFC champions vs. Strikeforce champions had UFC up one to nothing.
Dana White was then able to coerce the only welterweight champion Strikeforce had ever had to return to the UFC with an instant shot at UFC gold. Would Nick’s striking be too much for the UFC’s human meal ticket to Canada? Would Georges be able to successfully take the Stockton Brawler down? If he did take Diaz down, would he be able to enforce his gameplan without getting submitted? Could Diaz avenge his fellow training partner’s, aforementioned loss?
As it turned out, the only pertinent question would be, ‘Does Nick Diaz know how to catch a flight’. After that much publicized debacle, Nick Diaz was forced out of his bout with St. Pierre and replaced with Carlos Condit. Fast forward to GSP injuring his knee. Fast forward some more and see Nick Diaz beat BJ Penn into retirement. A revolving door occupied the space after “Georges St. Pierre VS.” Dana White’s emotions got the best of him, again, and he shuffled Condit out and put Diaz back in. This time, Diaz was slated to fight St. Pierre for the strap on Super Bowl weekend.
The fantasy fight was on again! And all these questions would be answered before the first snap of the Super Bowl and your imagination would run so wild that you’d start speaking in run-on sentences and… GSP tore his ACL. The fantasy match is gone and champion vs. champion fights will have to wait. Now we’re being sold a fight between two guys who want to fight a different guy for a belt that does not exist. But, is that really the way we should view it?
The dreaded interim belt will be on the line. The belt that signifies number one contender status when simply calling someone a number one contender will not do. I cannot come up with any difference between a number one contender fight and a fight for the interim belt aside from the awkward ending where Dana White straps a meaningless belt around a fighter who’s hip to the meaninglessness of the belt. Dana might as well hand the fighter a blown up poster of an asterisk. We’re not dumb Dana. We can handle remembering who will fight the champion next without seeing you strap a belt around his waist. God forbid Jon Jones be laid up for a few months and have to watch Dana hand over an interim belt in the light heavyweight division. We know how Bones feels about fake belts.
After surviving the ups and downs of Joe Silva’s recent matchmaking decisions, Condit is going to look to prove that he deserves that pseudo-belt around his waist. He makes a compelling argument. He’s 13-1 in his last 14 fights. In his last three fights, we saw him use his fists to perfection to defeat a previously unbeaten Rory McDonald, a previous title contender in Dan Hardy, and a shoe-in for number one contender status in Dong Hyun Kim. Sure, he’s put on a show with his hands as of late, but keep in mind he’s heard “I quit” just as often as he’s seen his opponents regain consciousness throughout his career. He’s shown that he deserves a position across from St. Pierre in the cage. Joe Silva thought so too for a few weeks. Unfortunately for Condit, he thought Diaz deserved to meet GSP more.
Since accepting a return offer to fight under Dana White’s custody, Nick has been exactly the guy he has always been. Diaz might be the only person on the planet more afraid of Ariel Helwani than Carlos Condit. Nick Diaz has an array of abilities ranging from obvious professional level boxing skills to his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Cesar Gracie. His wrestling is extremely underwhelming, so much so that he would have more luck getting his opponent down with a looping right than a single leg. Diaz’s boxing allows him to pick opponents apart from outside until they have nothing left. Then, Diaz goes for the kill. If he’s in trouble, he can pull guard and snap his opponent’s limb in seconds. He also has the conditioning to fight two main events. This will be a lot to take in for The Natural Born Killer.
For years, critics have said that Nick Diaz was fighting lesser competition and that is why he has continued to look so dominant (who didn’t say that about Strikeforce fighters?). The difference between Carlos Condit and the rest of Nick Diaz’s recent opponents is sheer size and technicality. Condit is easily bigger and hits harder than BJ Penn, Frank Shamrock, or KJ Noons. Condit can do more than hold his own on the ground unlike “Cyborg” Santos, Paul Daley, Hayato Sakurai, or Scott Smith. Condit certainly is not a smaller one-trick pony like Marius Zaromskis. Nick Diaz has never fought someone taller than himself either. Carlos Condit is an inch taller than Diaz’s 6’1. Mix Condit’s experience, Jiu-Jitsu abilities, knockout power, and size and you get a fighter like Diaz has never been matched against.
Furthermore, consider Diaz’s general angle to a fight. His gameplan is to exploit his reach and elite boxing to destroy his opponent. He utilizes his extraordinary conditioning to allow him to throw more strikes in one round than many can throw in a five round fight. He keeps his amazing ground game in his back pocket should repeatedly punching the opponent in the face and midsection not work.
Hopefully Nick Diaz has spoken with Dan Hardy in the last couple of months. The Outlaw could give Diaz some pointers on what happens when you let your hands loose against the Natural Born Killer. Though Condit has never had a fight go past four rounds before, he should be used to training for five round fights considering his time spent defending his welterweight belt in the WEC. With 13 submissions to his name, Diaz’s ground game should be effectively nullified.
So, no this is not a Strikeforce Champion vs. UFC Champion fight like we had hoped. Consider that Condit was the reigning champion of the WEC when the UFC absorbed its welterweight class, and we have a Strikeforce champion vs. WEC Champion bout. Your mind doesn’t have to race with all of the nonsensical inter-promotion legalities keeping you from this. You don’t have to fumble for a convincing argument to sway Dana White or Joe Silva to make this happen. You don’t even have to sign up on Twitter.
Condit vs. Diaz is not the kind of inter-promotional championship fight we had been salivating over, but chew on it. I think you’ll find that by Super Bowl weekend, you’ll look like Homer Simpson gazing at a box of pink frosted sprinkled donuts.