With welterweight contenders like Jake Ellenberger and Johny Hendricks itching to make their case for a shot at UFC gold, interim welterweight champ Carlos Condit could be looking at some tough decisions in the coming months.
After winning a unanimous decision over Nick Diaz at UFC 143, the newly-minted interim title-holder seems to have won the right to challenge Georges St-Pierre for the undisputed 170-pound strap. But as he told me when I spoke to him for this SI.com story this week, whether he'll opt to risk another fight in the meantime will likely depend on how long he’ll have to wait.
"Honestly, it depends on the recovery timeline for Georges St-Pierre," Condit said. "If he’s going to be out until November [or] December, then I might consider taking another fight in the meantime just because the timing would work out. I’d have three or four months to train for something mid-year, and then three or four months to train for Georges St-Pierre at the end of the year. If he’s going to be back a little sooner, I’d probably just wait."
Recent projections from St-Pierre and the UFC seem to be targeting a fall 2012 return to action, though it’s far from a sure thing at this point. With Ellenberger and Diego Sanchez squaring off on FUEL tonight, and Hendricks slated to meet Josh Koscheck in May, there could easily be more than one welterweight with a strong case for a fight against Condit, assuming the interim champ could be talked into it.
One factor in his decision-making could be the public’s response to his win over Diaz. Many fans were critical of Condit’s approach in that fight, which might very well encourage him to fight again sooner rather than later in order to answer those critics.
Condit admitted to being surprised by the level of vitriol from some fans, but insisted that by demonstrating his ability to stick to a game plan, he’d only made it tougher for future opponents to prepare for him.
"I employed a strategy to fight my fight, and I guess people don’t really understand that for whatever reason," he said. "And that’s fine, everybody has their own opinion. But honestly? I’m there to win fights. I’ve shown that I’m dangerous, that I can knock people out, that I can finish people, and now I’ve shown that I can stick to a strategy and execute a game plan. I’m a dynamic fighter. In the next fight, you might see something completely different than what you saw in the last fight. I think that’s where I’m going to have a lot of success and where I’m going to be very dangerous to other guys in the division."
Against Diaz, Condit said, he expected to have to adjust his approach as the fight wore on, but Diaz "had one gear" from start to finish. If anything, he said, he simply had to keep reminding himself not to be drawn in by Diaz’s mid-fight trash-talk, as tempting as it might have been.
"There were a couple times where I just wanted to get in there and brawl with the kid. But I knew that that wasn’t the smartest thing to do. My instincts told me to shut his mouth, but I’ve been training to stick to my game plan and do what I did. He did kind of suck me into that briefly, but I snapped right back out of it."
As for GSP, who made it known before the fight that he wanted Diaz to win in order to set up a future grudge match, Condit doesn’t have any hard feelings. In fact, he understands perfectly why the champ would rather fight Diaz than him, he said, and he doesn't blame him one bit.
"Georges has a legitimate personal beef with Nick. Nick disrespected him on live TV in front of millions of people, and Georges is pissed off about that. Honestly, it doesn’t have a lot to do with me."