The magnetic appeal of this surefire dogfight stems from its unusual brew. Excitement for a show is aroused when the centerpiece fighters bear just one of the elements that fight fans historically adore. Diaz and Condit do not merely exude a multitude of these electrifying traits, they embody them to the very core: stone-cold gameness, endless aggression, constant forward motion and fearlessly embracing precarious situations with absolutely no concept of the word "caution."
The icing on the cake is that Condit and Diaz both follow the most respectable and innovative philosophy on "defense" that mankind could ever imagine, which is offense, and a lot of it. If that doesn't work? More offense. The result is nothing short of unquenchable blood-lust that inevitably unfolds as mass carnage ... all for our viewing pleasure. Such are the ingredients boiling in this cauldron.
Nick Diaz (26-7) probably doesn't like you. He doesn't like the media or doing interviews either. He definitely doesn't like anyone who is audacious enough to sign a contract to fight him, which is the equivalent in his eyes of insulting everything he deems righteous and just in the world. In fact, there's only one thing I know for a fact that Nick Diaz genuinely likes, and that's fighting. He greets sportsmanlike handshakes with defiant middle fingers. If his opponent is within eye-shot, you can bet the meanest mug in MMA is trained directly on him, lip curled in a feral sneer and eyes radiating a maniacal and menacing glare that wordlessly conveys the taunt, "I can't wait to beat your ass." He might not say it aloud -- but you can still hear it.
Repping one of the most volatile arsenals in the sport, Diaz is one-half technical auteur and one-half brawling street thug. The base brutality of his incessant boxing stands in stark contrast to the elegant grace and fluidity of his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Since losing to K.J. Noons by cut stoppage back in 2007, Diaz has pieced together an eleven-fight roll and shows no intentions of stopping.
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Carlos Condit (27-5) is more of a silent killer. Rather than vocalizing his desire to render people unconscious or twist their limbs into confusing angles that even math professors can't comprehend, Condit just beams a chilling and unsettling aura of steely conviction. The kind that makes you scan the room nervously for the nearest exits or clutch your cell phone dearly with the numbers 9-1-1 already dialed in, just in case.
The Greg Jackson trained Muay Thai artist was the longstanding welterweight champion in the WEC before the higher weight classes were folded into the UFC. His split-decision defeat to Martin Kampmann in his Octagon debut was Condit's first loss since 2008 and snapped an eight-fight streak. He responded with four-straight wins, one of which was over top contender Jake Ellenberger, and racked up a "Fight of the Night" bonus in his next and "Knockout of the Night" honors in the two that followed.
You know the score -- we'll reconvene with gifs and analysis after the break.
Striking in MMA is becoming more complex than ever. We're seeing an armada of flashy and atypical kicks from traditional martial arts, Nick Denis just treated us to the first one-shot standing elbow KO in the UFC since Bobby Hoffman circa 2001, Muay Thai fighters are purported to have eight limbs, Jon Jones is coming out of his corner crawling like a spider; all hell is breaking loose.
That makes it quite extraordinary that Diaz, a pugilist of the sweet science, is still one of the most dynamic strikers in MMA.
It should be so easy to write off this volume-based style as destined for failure. No defense. No power. Chin's wide open. Diaz has been burdened with that criticism for years yet he continues to defy logic through success. Half of his wins are by TKO and he's never been knocked out cold. He eats power punches like they're potato chips.
The effective aspect of his boxing is that he's become a master of disrupting his opponent's rhythm by blaring his own louder, as he excels at taking over as the fight wears on.
To the right is the crafty gogoplata that Diaz used to ensnare Takanori Gomi, testifying to the creative malice of his serpentine guard skills. He's a complete package on the mat and excellent with scrambles, sweeps, defense, controlling posture, creating opportunities and snagging submissions.
The only area he doesn't specifically excel is wrestling, but he has slick Judo that provides adequate takedowns and takedown defense. Regardless, his lack of wrestling prowess is mirrored in Condit, so this match up will consist of pure offensive firepower colliding head on.
Condit oozes Muay Thai. His stance, clinch and collection of strikes all smack of the art.
As opposed to Diaz's constant stream of offense, Condit is more judicious in his selection but makes 'em count. He's prevalent from a distance, preferring to gather himself and spring in with volleys from the perimeter.
He employs the teep and front kick like a jab and often follows immediately behind it, such as the flying knee to the left.
He's comfortable in either stance and switches back and forth freely. His left hook is strong and he complements it nicely with straight punches, commonly leading with a crisp one-two from the traditional stance.
Low kicks are popularly asserted as a keen tool against Diaz based on his match with Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos. Condit has attacked the leg with roundhouses in the past but mostly as an auxiliary weapon. Considering the way Diaz closes range in a hurry with the willingness to take one in order to give one, kicks lend a risk as well.
This clever sweep is reminiscent of Diaz and just one of many reasons why these fighters are so eerily similar and evenly matched.
The clash of styles also draws many comparisons to Nate Diaz, Nick's younger brother, and his recent brawl with Donald Cerrone. Nate and Nick are nearly carbon copies of one another, and both Cerrone and Condit are Greg Jackson students who are long and lanky Muay Thai specialists with stellar BJJ and downright scrappers.
And when this fight plays out in my head, it goes a lot like Nate's fight with Cerrone.
The overall level of competition in the UFC is far better than Strikeforce, yet Diaz has tackled a pretty stout list of strikers there and throughout his career. Based on those performances, it's hard to see Condit out-gunning him in a straight shootout. In fact, even though it doesn't reflect how closely matched these two are, I don't see too many ways for Condit to win. A decision would require both matching and exceeding Diaz's obscene output or timing takedowns for an edge on the score cards. I don't see either submitting the other unless it's when pouncing after a damaging strike.
I'm in agreement with the betting lines that have Diaz as a narrow favorite and expect him to overwhelm Condit on the feet after an even first round.
My Prediction: Nick Diaz by decision.
All gifs via Grappo and Zombie Prophet of IronForgesIron.com