Like it or not, our society is one that thrives on having a short-term memory. This is especially the case in MMA where a fighter's most recent outing is what sticks as reality.
Enter Carlos Condit, the UFC interim 170-pound champion fresh off a title-winning performance that was as polarizing a victory as we've seen in the sport in quite some time.
Condit now sits on an interesting opportunity: enjoy his accomplishments and wait for a title unification bout against Georges St. Pierre or defend his belt for the first time this summer, either against de facto No. 1 contender Jake Ellenberger or Nick Diaz if his suspension either gets lifted or shortened. Among the writers of this site, media and fans, the opinion is split. Should Condit wait or defend?
To me, this is an easy one. Condit should defend his title this summer.
When the on-again, off-again title shot malarkey was muddying up the welterweight waters last fall, I thought Condit got screwed out of his then-promised title opportunity because St. Pierre says he demanded he fight Diaz instead. I like Condit and can appreciate how the former WEC Welterweight Champion has slowly evolved into one of the division's top talents. He earned his opportunity against Diaz a few weeks ago at UFC 143 and took advantage of it.
However, there's no doubt that his in-cage reputation took a big hit from fans and fighters alike with the win. Even his teammate at Greg Jackson's -- Diego Sanchez -- said that as a fan, he was down on the fight. People accused him of running and unfortunate connections to Kalib Starnes were made. Either you appreciated Condit's game plan or you despised it.
Even those like myself who thought Condit won felt a little empty after it was all said and done. It was ok, but was it what we expect out of a championship winning performance?
That brings us to last night when Ellenberger survived a fun scrap with at UFC On Fuel to win his sixth in a row. With Diaz likely out of the picture for most of the next year, it's hard to deny that he's now in prime position for a title shot of his own. There's simply not anyone else that has the creds right now to justify one, which is why this rematch of their September 2009 split decision makes a lot of sense for June or July.
Well, it makes sense to me anyway. I've heard arguments about how St. Pierre/Ellenberger wouldn't be a draw if Condit was to lose and that Condit should wait for his big payday against St. Pierre in a pay-per-view (PPV) hat will draw between 800,000 to 1 million buys.
After the jump, here's what I would say to that sentiment.
- St. Pierre vs. Condit or Ellenberger would draw the same amount of interest. Let's be realistic here: outside of Diaz, all other welterweight challengers to GSP are essentially the same person when it comes to promotion.
- It's an assumption that GSP will be 100% in November, which is the month Dana White threw out recently. I'll be selfish in saying that I don't want another Cain Velasquez situation where a champion is forced to rush back and then sets his career back further after his return fight. I want one of the best in the world to be healthy for as long as he can. If that means waiting a few extra months, so be it. Yeah, yeah, no one is ever 100% but this is a bit different than a muscle pull or sprain.
- People pointing to a possible Condit/Ellenberger clash as being a bad PPV draw need to chill out. The UFC will have 30+ shows this year, so the possibility of a poor draw as a main event is something they can shrug off quickly. They have had bad buy rates in the past and will have bad buy rates in the future.
With that many events, not putting together a champion vs. an obvious No. 1 challenger because it would be bad for business isn't an option. Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami, anyone?) There's always ways to help support in a co-main event spot.
The most important reason this needs to happen: Condit needs it to. Nine months on the shelf is too long to wait. What if he knocks out Ellenberger? That would not only help enhance a fight with GSP, but also erase this bad taste so many have in their mouths from the Diaz fight. A fighter entering the prime years of his career and fresh off achieving his dream of owning UFC gold shouldn't let the embers cool down.
It's time for Condit to cement himself as what he feels he is -- the best in the world -- and the way to do that is to fight.