What drew me to this sport was, above all else, the promise of something honest. It was what every other competition pretends it isn't, and that is violence. The purest form of every argument, every shouted word, every touchdown or tackle or scored goal I've heard or seen or done myself. Unlike these things, mixed martial arts did not consider the violent end a disgrace or an ugly loss of composure, but an exaltation.
Carlos Condit didn't want to hurt Nick Diaz. It would've been all right if he did hurt him, but only as a side effect. What he wanted to do was show three judges that he'd kicked Diaz a few more times than Diaz punched him. He flitted in and out of Diaz's reach for twenty-five minutes. He didn't care who hurt who, just that he won. And he won. There is no question about that – you can't give Diaz the win. But Condit wasn't fighting. He was playing a sport. He tried his best to keep Nick Diaz from getting into a fight, and he did it brilliantly.
This was supposed to be a celebration of what our sport could be. It turned out to be a statement on what it is.
Which is okay. I have, of course, found more to love about this sport than just violence. But it's worth noting that we've come to a place where violence is no longer a prerequisite of victory. Where one of the most "violent" men in our sport is elated with such a quiet triumph. I don't say this with malice or bitter blood, but disappointment. It was always going to be like this if we ever wanted the sport to evolve.
Two of my favorite fighters "retired" recently – BJ Penn and Nick Diaz. They were the only martial artists at the grandest stage who didn't know how to win a decision. The last elite fighters who weren't sportsmen. For now.
Today, the UFC Champion is not the best fighter. He's the best mixed martial artist.