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Although Carlos Condit walked away with the Interim UFC Welterweight Championship at UFC 143, the mixed martial arts world isn't quite ready to move on without Nick Diaz. Due to widespread debate and a great deal of fan backlash, Dana White and Joe Silva are bowing to the winds and giving Diaz another shot at the UFC title. But is a rematch between Diaz and Condit really the best thing for the welterweight division?
Almost as soon as Nick Diaz announced his sudden retirement from MMA, the welterweight landscape suddenly looked twice as unpredictable as it had months ago when Georges St. Pierre first blew out his left knee. How long would GSP take to return to the ring without his nemesis waiting in the wings? Exactly who was in line for a title shot with Diaz out of the picture? And even when Diaz came around and eventually returned to the sport, would it make sense for Condit to defend his title at the first opportunity, rather than sit out for most of the year while "Rush" recovered? For once, there were possibilities.
Now, a great number of high-profile matches have seemingly died upon inception. Although signing a Nick Diaz vs. Carlos Condit rematch may be the popular decision, it isn't the fair choice to make. At least, not for a hungry handful of stellar UFC welterweight fighters (and possible title contenders).
Perhaps no one loses more in this rematch shuffle than Josh Koscheck. Just as recently as last December, the former American Kickboxing Academy ace was supposed to face Carlos Condit in what looked to be a spectacular scrap. Really, there's no reason Koscheck shouldn't be fighting Condit for the title in a few months anyway, given his amazing UFC record, marketable villainy, and a pre-existing rivalries with notable Greg Jackson fighters.
Speaking of whom, having the title picture held up by a rematch is also terrible for Johny Hendricks. Since pasting Jon Fitch across the Octagon at UFC 141, his stock as never been higher, and he should be fighting for the top contender's spot. Instead, he'll have to continue waiting for a call from Joe Silva while watching Dana White and the UFC literally call a mulligan on Carlos and Diaz's last match.
On a separate note, I would love to see Nick Diaz get back into the title picture with a legit win over a former pound-for-pound fighter (instead of an arbitrary hand-out rematch from Dana White) — a match-up with Jon Fitch would make for a thrilling style clash, and seems fitting, given each fighter being in the "loss" category.
Can anyone remind me why Ellenberger's fighting Diego Sanchez? After carving a path through a murderers' row of welterweights (Mike Pyle, Carlos Rocha, and Jake Shields), it makes little sense for him to be fighting Sanchez, whose face got ripped to shreds in his last "win" against Martin Kampmann. Once again, it would make much more sense if the winner of that fight earned a title eliminator, while the loser could be fighting some other high-profile welterweight coming off a loss — like Nick Diaz.
For the UFC to even sign a rematch with Condit and Diaz seems to confirm two things: Georges St. Pierre is definitely going to take the maximum amount of time needed to rehab his knee, and every other "Top 10" welterweight is stuck in a holding pattern until the end of summer. Not only is that unfair, it's also the wrong way to handle the title picture.
[McKinley Noble is a former staff editor at GamePro and an MMA conspiracy theorist. Follow his Twitter account for crazy talk, 1990s movie references, and general weirdness. Or you could just stalk him on Google.]