The concept of sport is to take advantage of opportunities and to invoke a method or strategy to win any way possible. Often, that strategy neutralizes an opponent’s strength more so than showing off your own strength. In this past weekend’s UFC 143 main event, Carlos Condit did just that, as he swiftly moved around the cage throughout the five round match against Nick Diaz.
Diaz’s past opponents often remained stationary throughout their matchups, but Condit did not want to be drawn into Diaz’s strength, which is to put pressure on his opponent with his boxing and not allowing them to move out of his pocket.
While Condit was moving around non-stop, which is often seen as a sign of weakness, it is not his responsibility to fight exactly how Diaz wants him to. Yes, Condit should implement his own offensive gameplan on Diaz more, but statistics show that Condit landed more strikes throughout the fight. That defeats the opinion that Condit did nothing and only moved away from Diaz.
For Condit, who fought to a decision for just the fourth time in his career, he knew fighting to his usual style would work in Diaz’s favor. A 49-46 score in favor of Condit, which two judges scored it as, is not how I scored it. The third score, 48-47 Condit is how I felt the fight took place. However, following the fight, many MMA fighters took to Twitter to declare the fight as a robbery. A robbery this certainly was not.
While those fighters are complaining about the decision, they are only doing that. They state Condit did not deserve to win the fight, but are not stating a reason why Diaz did deserve to win.
The term Octagon control has come up quite a bit in defending the victory for Diaz. While that is certainly a true sense of scoring a fight, it cannot be used as a reason to give a round to Diaz when Condit outlanded him in total strikes in four of the five rounds.
Previous fights have had similar scenarios pan out, such as Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Lyoto Machida at UFC 123 in November 2010. Jackson was awarded the victory, even though Machida landed more significant strikes. Jackson landed more total strikes, but never had Machida in any danger. Condit won both categories on Saturday, outlanding Diaz in both significant and total strikes.
Regarding Diaz’s retirement during the post-match interview, I certainly hope that is not the case. Diaz brings a fantastic style that is not often seen throughout the sport. Fighters and fans alike easily gravitate to wanting to watch a fighter of that style. While his demeanor outside of the Octagon is often criticized, it is far too misunderstood to be what is remembered most about his career. Inside the cage, Diaz has a personality similar to Anderson Silva. While Diaz is more brash, they both will taunt their opponent, hoping to draw a reaction in their favor.
The top three fighters in the welterweight division seems evident, with Georges St. Pierre, Condit, and Diaz pinned at the top. With St. Pierre and Condit set to fight later this year, if Diaz decides against retirement, where does he go from here? A rematch between Condit and Diaz has been brought up, but the UFC doesn’t seem to be particularly interested in that, especially with UFC President Dana White scoring the fight in Condit’s favor himself.
Biggest winner: Carlos Condit
Condit implemented a strategy nearly to a T. His prize? Another five round championship fight, this time with a completely different style in Georges St. Pierre.
Fabricio Werdum must be brought up here as well, as he looked very impressive against Roy Nelson. His striking looked the best it ever has during his career, as he locked in a strong muay Thai clinch on multiple occasions. An eventual rematch with champion Junior dos Santos is not out of the question if he continues to look like he did on Saturday.
Biggest loser: Las Vegas crowd
It is understandable that a city that hosts so many UFC events will not be overly ecstatic for every card. However, even with an excellent fight going on between Condit and Diaz, the crowd was heard booing during the affair. The Las Vegas crowd routinely fails to show up until the main card, and even then, they can barely be heard throughout the night.
With so many cities around the world hoping to host future UFC events, the organization could look into bringing fewer events to its home. Keeping the New Years, Super Bowl, Independence Day, and Ultimate Fighter events there, while mixing up the schedule, would be a good start.
Biggest question: Should there be a guideline for refereeing decisions?
During the event, two fights saw multiple infractions, yet only one was punished. During the preliminary card, Alex Caceres incidentally kicked Edwin Figueroa in the groin twice. On the second instance, referee Herb Dean penalized Caceres two points. That cost Caceres the fight, as he went on to lose a split decision. On the main card, Josh Koscheck was warned multiple times about open-handed punches against Mike Pierce. Koscheck was first warned in the second round, then late in the third round, Herb Dean again warned Koscheck, but did not penalize him for the infraction.
Deducting points is not uncommon, but deducting two points is a rarity. What is most perplexing is that the same referee decided not to punish a fighter for multiple infractions at the same event.
Future matchups to make:
Georges St. Pierre vs. Carlos Condit:
With the victory, Condit is now set to challenge St. Pierre for the welterweight championship. St. Pierre’s return is expected to take place in November, with Condit unlikely to fight before then.
Fabricio Werdum vs. winner of Cheick Kongo vs. Mark Hunt:
Unfortunately for Werdum, the heavyweight division is still looking for overall depth. Frank Mir or Cain Velasquez would be excellent opponents, but the pair could possibly be set up against each other. He already holds a win over Antonio Silva, and the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix final still has not been set up. The winner of Kongo/Hunt, which takes place at UFC 144 later this month, will be sporting a three fight win streak.
Josh Koscheck vs. Nick Diaz:
Koscheck is also in a tough spot, as he already holds two losses to champion Georges St. Pierre. He is now leaving his longtime camp at American Kickboxing Academy, choosing to train on his own in Fresno. I suppose it truly is “team me,” as he declared at the pre-fight press conference. He mentioned that getting motivated for Pierce was tough, so getting motivated for Diaz should be a lot easier. Of course, this all hinges on Diaz deciding not to retire.
Renan Barao vs. Brian Bowles:
Barao looked impressive against the always tough Scott Jorgensen. For Barao, it was important to challenge himself against a strong wrestler. He was able to stuff Jorgensen throughout the match, even though he seemed to slow down in the last round. In Bowles, he would receive yet another tough challenge. Winning that challenge could possibly set up a bantamweight title fight for Barao later this year.
Dustin Poirier vs. Chang Sung Jung:
Poirier himself mentioned this matchup during post-fight interviews, and I have to agree with him in setting this one up. He seems against taking on Jose Aldo immediately after this win, hoping to continue to work on his skills as he works his way up the ladder. A matchup with “The Korean Zombie” would almost guarantee an exciting fight and determine who really is ready to take on the featherweight champion.