I never thought Condit had a chance in this one. Never ever. After seeing his fights with MacDonald, Kampmann,Ellenberger, even Hiromitsu Miura and Hardy, it seemed to me that like his camp-mate Donald Cerrone, his defensive boxing fundamentals were far too poor to win against Nick. That combined with his "gameness" and eagerness to stand in the pocket and trade while relying on power punches spelled disaster to me.
And then Greg Jackson actually lives up to his reputation as a master gameplanner for once (as opposed to, say, Evans against Machida or Cerrone against Nate) and does the ballsy move of having Carlos turn the tables and get inside Nick's head. Who'da thunk it? Having the mental fortitude not to get drawn into wanting to knock Nick's head off as a result of the constant taunting and being willing to run the first two rounds (Shut up fanboys, yes he did. I'm even a Machida fan that back at UFC 70 was screaming myself hoarse against accusations of "running." Condit was running in rounds 1 and 2, he turned it on during 3-5.), it all got Nick so frustrated that by round 3 the taunts had largely stopped and he was mainly following Condit around, looking unsure of himself and throwing lazy kicks because he couldn't get to boxing range.
It was just brilliant. As much as I said that a Frankie Edgar-styled fighter would be the best suited to take Nick out, I never thought I'd see Condit implement that type of gameplan. I imagined a fighter that would move in and out, use variety in his striking and refuse to get drawn into brawling, but I assumed that good head movement and a willingness to punch at least a little inside would be necessary to back Diaz off. Even in round 1, it seemed that Carlos was swinging wild and too hard when Diaz got into range, and that he couldn't find space to implement his game. But it seems Greg Jackson realized something very important that probably should've occurred to me earlier: the most dangerous part of Nick's game is the mental aspect, but it's also the weakest.
It seems so simple in hindsight: refuse to play Nick's game, and he gets frustrated. Don't rise up to his taunts, remain calm when he "plays hood" (or however Jackson put it between rounds 2 and 3) and suddenly Nick is at a loss. It's some fairly strong evidence for what I've suspected before: Nick's street tough persona isn't an act per se...but it is a chronic defense mechanism. It's who he lives as, but he lives that way because life has been painful and scary for him, not because it's how human beings "really" are. If you learn that life will hurt you, why not take the fight to whoever's going to hurt you first? Spread your hands wide and offer your chin, and when that person (our "life" metaphor) finally takes a swing because they feel threatened, what more can they do if you're still standing? Now you're in a world you understand, which makes you feel in control, which scares the other person, which means most often, you're going to win. Except when the other person refuses to play your game. Like Condit did. Or like press conferences and other social situations that refuse to fit neatly into the fight-or-flight reflex Diaz has honed so well. And then maybe you start to question the preemptive mean-mugging when you don't get the reaction you expect, because if the person you're mean-mugging doesn't try and knock you out, what if that means you're the jerk for glaring in the first place?
I'm speaking more generally here than just about the fight between Diaz and Condit, of course you're in a fight and the other guy's going to try and hurt you in a UFC main event. Yet still, Nick's main complaint seemed to be about not understanding what had happened, didn't it? Here's a newsflash: there's more than one way to win a fight. Just like kickboxers complaining about wrestling or BJJ, or like a butt-scooter begging his opponent to come to the ground, Nick got frustrated because his opponent refused to play his game. So mad, in fact, that he claims to be done with fighting entirely.
And that's when I got a little conflicted, when I heard his post-fight interview right in the middle of writing my first sentence. As much as people have jokingly called me out as a fan during my 4-part series on Nick, I don't like him at all, despite respecting his skills a ton. And yet, given that the above two paragraphs make sense to me, it gives me pause. Clearly I have no way of knowing whether I'm right about Nick or not, whether the "I don't give a fuck" attitude is a hardened shell designed to protect an insecure man that had no other way of surviving from a young age, or if Nick really is just a jerk and that's all there is to him. My analysis up there is all armchair psychology and it would be irresponsible to pretend otherwise. Still, my experience is that most "real" people, stripped of pretense and pretending, tend to act less like Nick and more like Randy from The Wire: kind, sweet, and personable (though selfish) until forced to be otherwise. This is what keeps me going back and forth from saying I hate Nick to thinking that I feel sad that life has taught him to be so angry, and that really I hate his fans that only root for him because interacting like a sociopath seems cool to them.
I'm betting Nick goes back on his ragequit at some point, but if he doesn't I'll be a little sad that the MMA world lost one of its greatest talents. At the same time, I'm gleeful that someone finally, finally, finally scouted Nick properly and had the mental fortitude to pull it off. I guess I'm a little curious to see what happens to Nick if he does leave MMA. I suspect he'll be a lot happier without the press attention, but I'm also doubting his personality will change much, and living with that kind of spiny shell can make it very hard to get much enjoyment out of life.
Anyway, this fanpost kinda got away from me, but I for one am entirely satisfied with my main event from tonight's fights and would like to invite all angry Diaz fans to please collect all of your tiny, tiny tears in tupperware containers and mail them to me, that I might bathe in them and remain young forever.