On February 4th of 2012, the UFC brought the thunder in Las Vegas, Nevada when they put on the UFC 143 event inside the Mandalay Bay Event Center. While the card featured soon to be champion Renan Barao, former top contender Josh Koscheck and perennial heavyweight contender Fabricio Werdum, the event was most notable for the highly anticipated and talked about main event that would feature two welterweights fighting for the interim title that was available while Georges St. Pierre was sidelined with a knee injury.
After the introductions concluded and the announcer walked out of the cage the calm and cool mannered Carlos Condit would be staring across the cage at the hot headed and trash talking Nick Diaz. A fight that featured an offensive juggernaut in Diaz that uses his punches in bunches to overwhelm against a cerebral striker that mixes in the use of all limbs as weapons to devastate opponents. The fight was highly hyped, heavily promoted bout and with the trash talking storm that comes with Nick Diaz, the fight was extremely anticipated amongst the MMA community.
The fight had huge stakes for both fighters as the winner not only would be named interim champion of the UFC Welterweight division but the victory guaranteed a shot at top pound for pound fighter Georges St. Pierre. The implications were heavy and the potential match ups of Diaz/St. Pierre or Condit/St. Pierre both drew plenty of acclaim. The arsenal of both men made for interesting analytical break downs for the potential super fights.
On February 4th however, the anticipation came to a close as both fighters stepping into the octagon and put on a show for the Las Vegas crowd. Diaz showcased his boxing acumen as he would pepper Condit to the cage where he would unleash his lethal body shots. Condit would counter with superior movement and footwork landing leg kicks at will and escaping the flurries of Diaz. Each round was close and each round featured the best from each fighter. The trash talking of Diaz was plenty as were the slick combinations thrown by Condit.
The fight would go the distance and Condit would claim the interim title with a razor thin Judge’s Decision. While many cried controversy and robbery, it was clear to most that fight was just so close each round that legitimate arguments could be made declaring either fighter the rightful winner. Regardless, Condit would win the fight and while his tactical, technical approach to fighting the aggressive and flat footed Diaz was heralded by some and booed by others, his seat was reserved in a bout with Champion Georges St. Pierre.
The career paths of both fighters went in opposite directions after the bout. Condit would wait for the knee injury to heal to face St. Pierre. The two would fight in what many consider the Fight of the Year this past November with St. Pierre coming out on top. Diaz tested positive for marijuana post bout as well as announcing his retirement from MMA. The retirement was short lived and he is nearing the end of his suspension from the Athletic Commission.
With 2013 approaching it is worth discussing the possibility of a rematch between the two fighters. With Diaz returning from suspension it is unlikely that he will be thrown into a title fight with Champion St. Pierre regardless of how much publicity it would garner. The scenario most likely will be Johnny Hendricks taking the next title shot and Diaz fighting one fight before a potential title bout.
With all that being said, SWFight.com breaks down the three reasons why the rematch is the best match up that can be made for the two fighters.
The first fight was worthy of an encore performance
In February, Condit beat Diaz via unanimous decision as two Judges scored the bout four rounds to one in favor of Condit and the third Judge three rounds to two. Many at home thought it could be the same cards flipped in favor of Diaz and therein lays a solid reason for a rematch as the fight was way too close to really declare a decisive winner in the fans point of view. While there is no question who won officially, the fan perception is very strong in this sport and UFC President Dana White often leans towards the fan opinion as transcending towards what truly counts.
Diaz and Condit put on a main event performance that fans rarely see as the 25-minute fight was full of action and drama throughout. Whether it was the leg kick to head kick combo that landed flush for Condit or the thrilling taking of the back Diaz executed on the ground late in the fifth round, fight fans were at edge to the very end.
On paper the two match up very well and a second fight should bring the same excitement and back and forth war that the fight fans clamored for in February. Nick Diaz will again be favored if he presses Condit to the fence, Condit favored if he is able to work angles to pick his shots. The variable will be to watch for which fighter makes the best adjustments to the others MMA game in order to gain advantage. Will it be Condit working the same game to once again beat Diaz or will Diaz show something different in order to garner the nod if it should once again go all five rounds?
The publicity and hype for the fight would be unreal
Let’s be honest here, Nick Diaz is media gold and anything involving Nick will sell well to the hardcore fans and will garner plenty of interest from the casual viewers. The “bad boy” image that Nick carries makes him very popular and he ends up being a “must watch” fighter. When he fought Penn and Condit in his only two bouts since his return to the UFC, the controversial Diaz has done a great job at bringing attention to the events he headlines.
Condit while not the popular figure Diaz is, but he just came off a pay per view event where he put on a great performance against one of the sports most polarizing athletes. Needless to say, Condit’s popularity is at an all time high. With his high percentage of finishing fights, his never out of a fight mentality and warm personality, it is easy to sell Condit in the eyes of the media. Before beating Diaz, Condit had already been a fan favorite due to his wars with Jake Ellenberger and Martin Kampmann and for his brutal flying knee finish of undefeated Dong Hyun Kim.
With the injury bug constantly disrupting UFC events, this fight features two guys who rarely pull out of fights and are sure to deliver for the fans. From a media and business stand point this fight makes too much sense.
The fight makes sense in the Welterweight division
Now that Georges St. Pierre has returned from injury to cement his status atop the Welterweight weight class, the questions storm in as to what is next not only for the Champ but for the division. Many speculate that Johnny Hendricks will be the next top contender after back to back one shot knockouts over opponents Martin Kampmann and Jon Fitch, while others have been raving about a potential super fight between St. Pierre and Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva.
While those scenarios play out, a returning Nick Diaz is still a top five talent in the weight class as is the former number one contender Carlos Condit. A fight between two fighters coming off a loss means the pressure and desperation to get the win will make two hungry fighters even hungrier which may bring out the best of the two elite fighters. The winner will solidify his place atop the division while the other down the proverbial division ladder.
Other then Hendricks, there isn’t a Welterweight that stands out to be the next guy in line outside of Condit and Diaz. While BJ Penn and Rory McDonald are the next two top names, neither of them are poised for a shot at the title this soon. Fighters like Kampmann and Jake Ellenberger are still several fights from a top contender fight. What remains the most sensible solution is to have a Diaz vs. Condit match up either dictate the next number one contender or name the winner a pair with Hendricks fighting for another interim title should St. Pierre move on to fight Anderson Silva.