UFC: Diaz frustrated by Condit master class
The main event of UFC 143 did not unfold in the blood and thunder manner many (including yours truly) had envisioned. “The Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit tempered his usual attacking style to cleverly pick off the predictable Nick Diaz throughout the five round fight. (Did I really label Nick Diaz as predictable? Someone cancel that interview in Stockton!).
The cerebral Condit utilised angles masterfully to ensure that he played no part in the Strikeforce veteran’s proposed war of attrition. Diaz announced his retirement post-fight as he vented his frustration at the hit and move game-plan perfectly executed by his elusive opponent. I believe his retirement will be short lived as Diaz seems destined to become one of the sports biggest stars.
The fight itself and subsequent unanimous decision verdict in Condit’s favor have received a mixed reception. Many fans have called for the enigmatic brawler to be given an immediate rematch. Newly minted interim welterweight champ Condit has been lambasted in some quarters for not delivering his usual power packed performance. Cesar Gracie (Diaz’ mentor) has been amongst his fiercest critics. Speaking to The MMA Hour Gracie stated; “It’s one thing to avoid standing in the pocket, it’s one thing to know how to dodge punches and kicks, and be somewhat elusive and have great defense,” he said. “It’s another thing to turn your back and run from a fighter.”
Condit’s coach Greg Jackson, was understandably more effusive in his praise of the latest champion to call his New Mexico stable home. Speaking to the same program Jackson was frank in his assessment of the fight; “It’s not like we reinvented the wheel here with this game plan…stick-and-move game plan against a guy that’s such an amazing fighter…for me is a no-brainer.”
Conversely the co-main event of the night was a brutal affair as the always tough Roy Nelson found the stand up power and muay thai technique of Fabricio Werdum overwhelming. Yet whilst “Big Country” obviously struggled against the more natural heavyweight, he proved a huge hit with viewers who couldn’t help but admire his granite chin and never say die attitude. It was gripping stuff as we watched Nelson trudge forward manfully in the face of a barrage of knees which would have made lesser men cry “no mas”.
Therein lies the crux of a fight card which still has internet forums lit up this week. Nelson displayed little lateral movement and poor stand-up defence whilst Condit was the epitome of a counter fighter, yet the latter is this week being asked to enter into a rematch with the now technically “retired” Diaz. Diaz for that matter was either unable or unwilling to alter his in-fight strategy once it became clear that his usual linear attacking style would not win the day on this occasion. Indeed it was only in the final stanza that his renowned ground game came into play and threatened to derail Condit’s impeccable display.
I find the criticism of Condit coupled with the lauding of Nelson’s admittedly gutsy performance curious. One of the main facets of martial arts is to neutralise the threat posed by your opponent whilst absorbing as little damage to your own person as possible. Surely Condit achieved maximum success in this regard? Then again the line between sports and entertainment is a difficult one to tread. The explosive careers of both Diaz and Condit to date had created tangible expectation of an epic slugfest which simply didn’t materialise. The net result is that Condit has this week agreed to grant Diaz a rematch. I believe in light of the raging debate over the judges scoring of the fight and the ongoing absence of Georges St-Pierre due to injury this is a sound call. Carlos Condit may well dominate the 170lbs division for the foreseeable future. It is therefore in his best interests that there is no ambiguity going forward as to who carries the mantle of UFC interim welterweight champion.
As Dana White touches down in Brazil to film the country’s first series of The Ultimate Fighter, events in Las Vegas last Saturday night demonstrate the power of the fans in a still growing sport. The relationship between mixed martial arts’ biggest league and its rabid fan-base remains a strong one. Condit and Diaz II will probably be booked in the coming week and fan reaction has been a factor in this. The UFC puts together the fights which the fans want to see. Social media and twitter in particular are a match makers dream. The powers that be can immediately gauge fan reaction in the aftermath of a fight and similarly assess the appetite for future bouts yet to be finalised. The need for fighters to win in a clear-cut unequivocal manner has never been greater. Whilst the often repeated mantra of “don’t leave it in the hands of the judges” will always ring true…perhaps in this digital age we can add “or the hands of the tweeters” to that adage.
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