The Welterweight Division within the Ultimate Fighting Championships promotion was blown wide-open when Champion Georges St. Pierre vacated his title and announced his leave of absence from mixed martial arts. After the announcement, a division that was once locked up tightly by the Champion’s dominance was once again open for any 170-pounder to step up and take the crown of world’s best welterweight. In order to put a title on the waist of one of their fighters, the UFC announced that Robbie Lawler and Johny Hendricks would fight for the now vacant title as the headlining act on March 15th in Dallas for UFC 171. With the need of a new champion came the need for challengers for the to-be new champion and a number one contenders match was announced today to fill that void.
On March 15th, Albuquerque’s Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit (29-7, 6-3 UFC) will face-off with rising contender Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley (12-2, 2-1 UFC) in a fight that in all likelihood will determine the first contender for either Hendricks or Lawler.
Condit is one of MMA’s most exciting fighters and arguably one of the most prolific finishers that the sport has ever seen. While Condit hit a rough patch after capturing the Interim Title back in 2012, he bounced back valiantly in his last bout against Martin Kampmann. With the win, Condit avenged a loss to Kampmann back in 2009 which was a razor-thin split decision; Condit emphatically finished Kampmann back in August with a brutal display of punches and knees. A consensus top-3 Welterweight, Condit has fought a “whose-who” of the 170-pound division including wins over Kampmann, Jake Ellenberger, Rory McDonald and Nick Diaz. Condit has suffered losses to St. Pierre and Hendricks but in both bouts fought valiantly; in-fact, Condit had St. Pierre hurt badly and came close to finishing the Champion after a well-placed headkick dropped St. Pierre to the mat.
Woodley is on some-kind of tear at the moment; despite dropping a controversial split decision to Jake Shields in June, Woodley has two absolutely vicious knockouts over two fighters notoriously difficult to finish. At UFC 156 and 167, Woodley met up with Jay Hieron and Josh Koscheck respectively and finished them both with quick and powerful knockout punches. The former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion had solidified himself as one of the divisions most dangerous fighters and prior to this announcement had been named by UFC President Dana White for sending dozens and dozens of texts asking for this very match-up.
Condit’s striking prowess will definitely be an “X-factor” in this bout as Woodley may have knockout power but Condit’s arsenal is much more vast and dangerous than one-shot power punches. With an array of punches, elbows, knees and kicks, Condit is arguably the most versatile striker in the division. Woodley’s strengths in-fact do not include striking skills; prior to the aforementioned knockouts, Woodley was well-known for being a powerhouse wrestler who uses his smother top-game to either win decisions or find openings for submissions. Prior to the fights with Koscheck and Hieron, nine of ten victories for Woodley came via judge’s decision or submission.
It is hard to imagine this fight being anything but fireworks as both men have been on point as of late. Both fighters should come into the fight with all of the intangibles to compliment their talents. Training with the Jackson-Winkeljohn gym, Condit will battle the American Top Team guidance of Woodley; add that to the iron-chin of Condit and the explosiveness of Woodley and we can come up with several scenarios on how this fight could end-up. Stay tuned to SWFight.com for more event coverage and bout breakdowns as the event draws nearer.