Carlos Condit defeats Nick Diaz at UFC 143. Image via Esther Lin of MMA Fighting
Carlos Condit won the biggest fight of his life at UFC 143 when he defeated Nick Diaz and claimed the UFC interim welterweight championship. While some have derided his performance, he executed his gameplan to perfection and beat an extremely tough challenger. His prizes were the belt and a shot at champion Georges St. Pierre, a man he was briefly scheduled to face at UFC 137. A guaranteed fight with the king of the kill at 170, and the best pay-per-view draw in the company.
And people are mad that he doesn't want to give that up?
I understand that fight fans want to see fighters fight. We're all selfish voyeurs, paying to watch people compete and we want entertainment dammit. From that side of things, sure there's an argument. But if you're Carlos Condit, it's a terrible idea. Kid Nate even says so at the start of his piece on the subject, but goes on to argue the merits of a Condit title defense from a business standpoint. Well, I don't think that the supposed threat to business is as cumbersome as Nate and Josh Nason would have you believe. And I think we're glossing over what's best for the fighter in question, even if we don't like it. So without further ado, here's my take on things from a fighter and business standpoint.
Carlos Condit is a guy that hasn't made a truly huge payday in his career. If he defends in the summer, it won't be in a PPV main event because it won't draw, so he's not going to be making a big payday there either. Certainly not the monster seven-figure payday he'll get for a PPV main event fight with St. Pierre. But in the meantime, he should risk it all for a bout with a guy like Jake Ellenberger that will draw crickets and tumbleweeds? If he loses (and he very well could), he's back to third on the card and has a laundry list of wrestlers in his future. The risk isn't worth the reward.
Some of the other points brought up are that he's hurting himself with the long layoff, and that he's "damaging his credibility" by waiting. First off, Condit takes long breaks between his fights all the time. Take a look at his record. He's 27, and nine months off isn't going to do anything terrible to his career. If it was, it would have happened already. And how is he damaging his credibility by waiting? You know what would damage his credibility a lot more? Losing. Sure, there's the potential for a huge knockout of an Ellenberger or Hendricks, which would sell a few more GSP vs. Condit PPV's. But "if's" aren't reality. Even if it might be "right for business" to the fans and the UFC, it's not right for the business of Carlos Condit.
Finally, putting the heat on Condit for this is unfair. Once GSP dropped out of UFC 143, Diaz vs. Condit was promoted as "the winner gets GSP" by the UFC. Not "the winner will defend before GSP gets back, then get GSP if they win". They planted the seed themselves. The only fight the UFC and Condit considered was a Diaz rematch (a big money fight), but Diaz screwed that up and that brought it back to square one. Make no mistake, the UFC is on board with Condit waiting. Dana said it himself on Fuel:
"If I’m Carlos Condit and the (Nick) Diaz match is available, I take the Diaz match. If not, I probably sit around and I wait for GSP."
If he can accept it, why can't the rest of us?
After the jump, I explain the business side of things.
1. Let the division sort itself out. In such a competitive weight class, 8-10 months between title fights is not a big deal, especially where there's no clear-cut challenger right now anyway. Jake Ellenberger has the best case, but didn't look great against Diego Sanchez. Diaz is out until 2013. Josh Koscheck and Johny Hendricks don't fight until May. And Thiago Alves and Martin Kampmann have been too inconsistent against recent competition to merit a title shot. There's nothing wrong with those guys fighting amongst themselves, and the guy at the top of the heap takes on the winner of GSP/Condit early next year. And if St. Pierre is out longer, at least you have a totally credible challenger for Condit at that point.
2. A title going undefended for nine months happens more than you think. Cain Velasquez just went thirteen months. Frankie Edgar went nine in between Maynard fights. Anderson Silva went a year between Thales Leites and Demian Maia. Rampage, Shogun, the list goes on. A competitive and deep division is not totally reliant on the belt being defended. This has been proven time and time again. And as stated above, Condit himself has taken many long breaks in between fights in his career. This is not a big deal.
3. The idea that an interim title is created for the sole purpose of keeping the division moving along is a fallacy. The UFC has come up with all sorts of reasons (some credible, some lame) for interim titles in the past. For this bout, it was to draw PPV buys and to be used as a placeholder. They knew there was a very good chance it wouldn't be defended in the meantime. So there's no added pressure on Condit to put up the title before a bout with GSP.
Overall, Carlos Condit sitting on the sidelines until November doesn't hurt anyone except a few fans that might have wanted to see Condit/Ellenberger 2. It won't hurt Condit. It won't hurt the welterweight division. And it won't hurt the UFC overall. It might not be the most popular decision, but it's definitely the smartest one. Like all of us, sometimes fighters have to think about themselves first. We don't have to like it, but we can at least try to respect it.