The UFC 143 main event between Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz reminded of a very specific reality when it comes to the fight game. Condit's ability to stick to a gameplan that neutralized Diaz's style cut into some of the excitement expected from the fight. Instead of a wild brawl we were given a tense strategic fight.
For many fans Condit's gameplanning was a sort of betrayal, he broke the agreement some saw the main eventers as having with the fans. For me it was one of the things you need to see at the highest levels of the sport, just as vital as Dan Henderson's wild brawl with Mauricio Rua. I'm not suggesting that the two fights are on the same level of excitement for me, but rather that I find both fights to be acceptable and exciting in their own way.
In the Bloody Elbow staff picks, everyone but me picked Diaz to win. The reasons ranged from Diaz having too good of a chin for a firefight to Diaz's barrage being too much for Condit to withstand for 25 minutes to not being able to find space for his own strikes as Diaz relentlessly threw blows. Even when I picked Condit, I thought he would look to get the fight off the feet and work from top position.
Instead of trying to dent Nick's chin in a firefight that most picked Diaz to win, Condit circled, kept his back of the cage and used kicks to score points while exploiting the holes in Diaz's footwork to stay out of danger.
This is, to me, the point of combat sports. Condit practiced the art of hitting while not getting hit.
Much of the anger and disappointment seen from certain fans stems from the idea that it isn't legitimate to look to score points and not finish. To some people, looking to win a decision is not nearly as legitimate as fighting for the finish at all times. That seems to ignore the fact that Condit was working high kicks, he did throw powerful combinations at Diaz's head and he worked spinning backfists that never really landed.
And while Diaz did out-punch Condit, Condit out-struck Diaz by out-kicking, out-kneeing and out-elbowing him
But why should Condit have gone for broke trying to knock out a man who is notoriously hard to knock out? Why go for submissions against a man who has never been submitted? Based on the majority of analysis of the fight, Condit was very unlikely to stop Diaz, so he didn't ever go for broke trying and leave an opening for Diaz to get his offense rolling.
Condit fought smart, and sometimes fighting smart means backlash from the fans. It's an unfortunate reality of the game, but Condit should be proud of his ability to stick to a smart strategy and can look at his UFC championship belt if he ever finds himself unsure of if he did the right thing.