This article originally appeared on WrestlingObserver.com on 8/30/13
Condit comes back from early adversity to get the TKO, but has he drastically improved his defensive wrestling game?
Things weren't looking so great for Carlos Condit one round into last night's UFC Fight Night 27 main event against Martin Kampmann. Time and again the Natural Born Killer found himself on his back throughout the round thanks to his Danish opponent's relentless pursuit of the takedown. It was shades of Condit's recent decision losses to Johny Hendricks and Georges St-Pierre, not to mention his 2009 loss at the hands of Kampmann.
Then in the second the complexion of the fight changed drastically. Kampmann wasn't able to complete his takedowns with same ease as in the first, and Condit began to increasingly come on with his striking. By the end of the third the self-styled Hitman looked like he had been on the wrong side of a gangland beatdown as torrents of blood streaked down his face. Then in the fourth Condit sealed the deal with a knee to Kampmann's liver that allowed him to swarm his dazed opponent for the TKO victory.
With the win Condit solidly established himself as the #2 welterweight in the UFC, but unfortunately for him he's coming off back to back decisive loses to the current champion and his #1 ranked challenger. Given the complexion of their last fights it's hard to see Condit as anything but the underdog in a rematch against either GSP or Hendricks.
At 29 years old there's still time for Condit to make improvements to his game, but he's fast approaching his third decade on Earth -- the point where most athletes' bodies tend to slow down. With the clock likely ticking on the 11-year veteran's athletic prime, he's going to have to shore up his ability to stop a takedown if he hopes to one day capture the UFC welterweight strap and rule over a division inhabited by Hendricks and GSP.
It looked like he had done just that in the later rounds against Kampmann, but the Dane made a revelation at the post fight press conference that opened the door for doubt.
"After the first round, I didn't feel like I had anything left and I went into survival mode," a frank Kampmann told reporters. "I wanted to keep pushing, but I didn't have the gas in the tank for it."
Which begs the question, was Condit's ability to keep the fight standing due to Kampmann's body closing up shop for the night after he ran it through a triple shift's worth of work in the span of five minutes? Or was it proof he's made progress in the defensive wrestling department thanks to countless hours on the mats spent drilling technique?
It's a question we probably won't have a definitive answer to until Condit rematches either GSP, Hendricks, or another welterweight with sharp wrestling skills.
Which isn't to take anything away from Condit's accomplishment. He did a brilliant job of capitalizing on the opportunity presented to him and the strikes he landed surely had a lot to do with the sag Kampmann began to feel in his step as the fight progressed. Making the most of opportunities that present themselves in a fight is a valuable skill unto itself, and Condit did a masterful job of doing just that against Kampmann on Wednesday night.
Cowboy once again falls short
There's a line on Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone that you may have heard before. Due to pre-fight anxiety issues he has a tendency to come out flat in the first round. Sometime he never gets started at all and looks like a different fighter than the full-throttle aggressor who racked up four fight night bonuses in his first five UFC outings and five fight of the night awards during his run in the WEC.
Such was the case in his match with Rafael dos Anjos. Cowboy looked like he was stuck in first gear during the opening frames of the bout, and although he came on in the third it was a case of too little too late. As a result he found himself on the wrong end of a 29-28 decision.
On the surface this looks to be yet another case of whatever mental block it is that keeps Cerrone from being able to perform at his best in the early rounds once again rearing it's no doubt Stetson-adorned head. I'm sure that probably did have a lot to do with it but I've got a different theory that may at least partially explain why Cowboy sometimes seems plum tuckered out in his fights.
Just days before the fight Cerrone admitted he was heavy heading into his weight cut due to an inability to resist the siren call of Milk Duds and Fruit Rollups.
Now far be it from me to suggest how a professional athlete should prepare for a big event, but Ceronne's, shall we say, "less than scientific" approach to weight cutting doesn't seem like it would be conducive to performing in peak condition on fight night.
What's more, cutting down on the amount of physical stress he puts his body through on the eve of a big fight might just help him curb those self-destructive thoughts that supposedly keep him from actualizing his in-cage potential. As anyone who's ever dieted -- let alone cut at an entire one year old baby's worth of weight in a day -- can attest to, your brain doesn't take kindly to being deprived of nutrients. It could be Cerrone would benefit both physically and mentally from a more disciplined approach to nutrition.
After all, he'll have plenty of time to scarf down high fructose corn syrup-laden snacks once he's done fighting for a living.