Carlos Condit walks back to his corner at UFC 143 on Feb. 4, 2012 in Las Vegas. Photo by Esther Lin for MMA Fighting.
At UFC 143: Diaz vs. Condit, Carlos Condit pulled off a big upset, winning the UFC Interim Welterweight title and spoiling the UFC's plans for a Nick Diaz vs. Georges St. Pierre super-fight. Now, Condit is the unlikely champion, and it's Condit vs. GSP fans have to look forward to. There's a lot to unpack about Condit's win - Was it boring? Can Condit vs. GSP live up to the idea of Diaz vs. GSP? Can Condit threaten GSP? - but I want to start with a much more basic question:
Who exactly is this guy?
Despite being a UFC champion, and despite having over 30 pro fights to his name, Carlos Condit is a fighter who seems to have somewhat flown under the radar of fan recognition until now. So let's examine the career highlights of The Natural Born Killer and get a better sense of the new champ.
Condit started his career fighting in regional shows primarily in the southwestern United States. There is not a lot of footage of these early fights available, which is a shame as the results read like a beautiful suite of violence. 52 second win in his debut via rear naked choke; 45 second win via armbar; 29 second win via TKO - Condit won his first 8 fights, all via stoppage, all in the first round, and 6 of those 8 within the first minute. Here's one early fight as Condit faces Jarvis Brennaman. Even at this stage in his career, you can see how advanced Condit is. Note his incredibly slick transitions between submissions.
Videos and more in the full entry.
Condit's big break came in early 2006, a little over 3 years into his career. By that time he had put together a 13-2 record, still with stoppages in all his wins, and still having never gone past the first round. He was invited to take part in the stacked Rumble on the Rock Welterweight tournament, which also featured heavy hitters such as Jake Shields, Frank Trigg, Yushin Okami, and Anderson Silva (this tournament is the home of the Okami vs. Silva DQ). Condit came into the tournament determined and looked incredible. Here is his first round destruction of the highly favored Renato Verissimo:
And his semi-final victory over Frank Trigg:
Condit would go on to lose a decision in the finals to Jake Shields, but with two wins over highly respected UFC veterans in a grand total of 1:39, Condit walked out of this tournament with a tremendous amount of respect. That momentum carried him first to Japan, where he found success in Pancrase, going 3-0, then to the WEC.
In just his second WEC fight, Condit defeated John Alessio for the vacant Welterweight title. He defended that belt three times, again winning by stoppage every time. Perhaps his most impressive WEC bout was also his last. Condit defended the title against Hiromitsu Miura in 2008. Miura proved to be an extremely resilient foe who gave Condit all he could handle. But the champion persevered and kept his perfect 100% finishing ratio intact with a stoppage late in the 4th round. After that fight, Zuffa shut down the WEC Welterweight division, moving Condit to the UFC.
In spite of his impressive accolades in the WEC, Condit was often looked down on as a champion of that organization. With Zuffa owning both the WEC and UFC, many looked at the WEC Welterweight division as redundant, a home for those fighters who were not good enough to make it in the big leagues. Condit was seen as the champion of the minor leagues, a man who stood tall over others who couldn't hack it. He was the classic big fish in a small pond.
His first fight in the UFC did little to challenge those perceptions as he lost a decision to Martin Kampmann. It was a good fight that seemed to clearly lay out Condit's future in the UFC - he was a fighter who could provide action-packed fights and tough tests for prospective challengers, but was unlikely to break into the top of the division himself.
After that Kampmann loss, Condit picked up a very close decision win over Jake Ellenberger (the first, and until last night, only decision win of Condit's career) and then snuck by Rory MacDonald. At the time, those were not seen as anything special, but time has proved that both Ellenberger and MacDonald are for real, and Condit's wins over them hold considerably more weight. Next came his highlight reel KO of Dan Hardy and his spectacular flying knee KO of Dong Hyun Kim. With the momentum from those big wins, he was set to face B.J. Penn at UFC 137 before the Penn/Condit/Diaz/GSP shuffle led to last night.
Leading into the Diaz fight, Condit was still being overlooked and viewed as just a name in the way of Diaz vs. GSP. And even now, after having defeated Nick Diaz, the man who rolled through Penn, Condit is taking criticism, accused of being a boring fighter who had to run away to defeat the superior Diaz.
But to overlook Condit is to ignore the story of his career. Take a look at these incredible statistics - he has a record of 28-5, and of those 28 wins, he has finished his opponent in 26 of them. That gives him an astounding 93% finishing ratio - the highest of any UFC champion, and the highest I can think of for any fighter competing at this level of the sport. Of those 26 stoppage wins, all but 5 have come in the very first round. This is a man who has fought his way to the top, and has destroyed everyone who has gotten in his way.
At UFC 143, we lost GSP vs. Diaz. And that is a shame. But we gained GSP vs. Condit. And if you look at Condit's resume, look at his highlight reel, look at the trail of victims leading up to the fight with GSP - if you look at all of that and you don't get excited about the prospect of Condit vs. St. Pierre? Then I'll humbly suggest that you take a closer look at the career of the new champ.