Exactly one year ago, I found myself sitting on a barstool in a hotel in Munich, Germany on Christmas Eve. Traveling is my biggest passion, and I was in the middle of the latest stop on my never-ending quest to see every single cool place on the planet before my time's up. But there's not exactly much going on in the late evening before a major holiday, even in Munich, so there I was at the bar. The pretty fräulein bartender was bringing me beverages as fast as I could drink them, but there wasn't much else going on in there either. So I did what I usually do when I'm bored - I busted out my laptop and started to type.
I could have written about my travels, which is pretty standard for me when I'm on the road. But instead, I felt like writing about my favorite fight of 2012. That bout was Jon Fitch vs. Erick Silva at UFC 153. It took me a couple of hours and more than a couple of beers, but I was happy with my efforts. Check it here if you care.
So that brings us to today. I'm not on the road for Christmas this year. I'm not in a bar, so there aren't any attractive ladies to bring me drinks. It's just me and my puppy, and he's currently snoring like a chainsaw. So why not write about my favorite fight of 2013? It seems only fitting.
Picture the scene. March 13th, Bell Centre in Montreal. 20,145 rabid Canadian fans. On one side of the cage, there was this lanky dude from Albuquerque that mean mugs better than anyone this side of Stockton. Standing across from him was this beastly wrestler from Oklahoma with a huge beard and dynamite in his four-ounce gloves. Carlos Condit and Johny Hendricks are about to throw down in the co-main event. I'm hyped. You probably are too.
"Risk and danger bring out the best in me as a fighter."
"Just let me hit him as hard as I can one time. You're gonna respect that punch."
"Aware of his abilities? Absolutely. But worried? No. I'm gonna go in there and try to beat the f*ck outta him."
Now that's a pre-fight promo!
As usual, Condit had the angriest of looks on his face as battle was about to commence. I guarantee he never lost a staring contest in elementary school. Not once. And Hendricks looked so relaxed that you'd never suspect he was about to participate in a cage fight. At least he wasn't singing. He saved that for a title fight.
Hendricks was coming off of the supreme 46-second devastation of Martin Kampmann, and every fan wanted to see if he could catch Condit (who had never been KO'd in 34 fights) with it here. And he did. He came forward early in the fight, backed Condit against the cage, and clubbered him with two of them. Condit was a bit dazed, but he fired right back with a knee up the middle.
Then the takedowns began.
The first time, Hendricks slammed him down and just walked away. The second time was against the cage and Hendricks laid on him for a while - until Condit created some space and went for a couple of armbars from the bottom. Hendricks wanted none of that and they engaged on the feet again. Despite the takedown threat, Condit wasn't holding back on any sort of offense at all, as is his nature. Flying knees, tons of kicks, he didn't care. That's why I named my puppy after him. He's awesome.
After another takedown attempt, Condit deftly tried to lock up a kimura and used it to spin around to Johny's back. Hendricks just stood up though, and Condit was a human backpack for a little while. When it was apparent that he wasn't going to sink a choke, Carlos just let go and waited for Hendricks to turn around. Then he kicked him straight in the face. And they threw down for the rest of the round. Advantage Hendricks, but Condit had his moments for sure. The crowd gave them a standing ovation, and rightfully so.
Round 2? Yeah, we got action. Hendricks blasts him with the left. Condit immediately responds with a flying knee right on the button. After a brief Hendricks takedown, they repeat the exact same sequence about 90 seconds later. Hendricks gets a few more takedowns but Condit won't stay on the mat. The Natural Born Killer was doing okay on the feet, but had been taken down eight times already after 10 minutes. Hendricks wasn't the one pressing the action anymore though, and it seemed like Condit was primed to take over going into the final round. Especially since Hendricks hurt his hand at some point, and told his corner as much.
Condit, being the warrior that he is, pumped up the crowd and roared like a predatory animal as the final round of fisticuffs was about to begin. You can witness that moment in the image that accompanies this article, which is easily my favorite MMA photo of 2013. Hendricks, being no slouch in the warrior department himself, threw his damaged left hand directly at Condit's grill right after they touched gloves to start the final stanza.
Hendricks got a couple more takedowns but it was Condit doing all the damage with elbows and punches from the bottom, with a couple of kimura attempts thrown in. And he kept getting up. He was able to bloody Hendricks up with two minutes to go, and touched him up with three right hooks and a huge knee. Another takedown attempt was thwarted by Condit's continual kimura attack. And they beat the tar out of each other all the way to the final horn. Ladies and gentlemen, that was a hell of a fight.
The judges awarded it to Hendricks with three 29-28 scores, which is the same way I had it. But the score didn't really matter to me in the end. The bout told a great story, which is something you don't really see very often. Condit kept getting taken down, but got up every single time and continued to attack with everything he had. The definition of throwing caution to the wind. And Johny continued to blast away with no regard for his damaged hand while fighting to his strengths the whole time. Hendricks brought it to Condit early, Condit took it to him late. There were no lulls, no breaks. It was 15 minutes of fascination.
So that was my favorite fight of the year. When these two men meet again (and they will), I sincerely hope there's ten more minutes tacked on. Because it could lead to one of the greatest fights of all time.