Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
MMA trainer Greg Jackson might be, by his own admission, "completely and utterly biased," but he still thought the judges got it right when they handed Carlos Condit a unanimous decision victory over Nick Diaz at UFC 143 this past Saturday night, he told MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani.
Saying there was "no doubt" in his mind that the decision would go Condit's way, Jackson defended his fighter’s strategy on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, and fired back at critics who accused Condit of running away from Diaz.
"It’s not like we reinvented the wheel here with this game plan," Jackson said. "A stick-and-move game plan against a guy that’s such an amazing fighter and such a tough guy as Diaz, for me is a no-brainer. If you look at the numbers, we hit him many more times than he hit us."
But then, just because it worked, that doesn’t make it popular. Jackson hasn’t remained deaf to the criticism of his fighter, but that doesn’t mean he agrees with any of it, either.
"The criticism I guess I heard this morning was that Carlos was running," Jackson said. "He was running back to the middle of the Octagon and hitting him. You can’t really say he’s running, because he hit him more times. So that argument doesn’t make a lot of sense."
According to Jackson, the plan for Condit was to "attack Nick’s safety zones," and stay away from situations where Diaz excels.
"He’s amazing when he gets you up against the fence," Jackson said of Diaz. "He’s amazing when he starts rolling on those combinations. So we left the party when that happened and then we started the party again and were able to land a lot more shots than he was. It’s pretty cut and dry to me. ...If you sit there and go toe-to-toe with him, man, he’s just so tough. His combinations flow so beautifully. He switches from the body to the head so well. There’s no reason for us to play that game."
And yet, despite Condit’s success in the fight, the strategy was met with criticism from many fight fans and from Diaz’s trainer, Cesar Gracie, who lambasted Condit’s game plan earlier on in Monday’s show. That reaction didn’t surprise Jackson, he said, "because Nick was supposed to win that fight. Georges [St-Pierre] was flown in and they were going to have this grudge match and everybody was excited about it."
Condit’s victory scuttled those plans, Jackson admitted, but it also provoked the ire of fans who complained that his fighter spent too much time on the retreat. The fans who want fighters to stand and slug it out is an "element that has always existed in MMA," Jackson said, but it doesn’t mean fighters have to adopt that mentality.
"A lot of people think that you can win a fight by just walking forward, and that’s actually not how you win a fight," said Jackson. "Because if that was the only way you win a fight, you’re talking about Toughman [boxing contests]."
Since fighting is "so subtle and so hard," according to Jackson, some fans might not always understand what they see, he said. Although, the Albuquerque-based trainer did admit to being a little surprised at how some people reacted to the decision even after the statistics showed that his fighter had thrown more strikes and landed more strikes than Diaz.
"This one is odd a little bit, because it’s really a no-brainer. If you look at the significant strikes, that’s got to count for something. All strikes, we outstruck him. Significant strikes, we outstruck him. So if you’re looking at numbers, that was all us. If you’re hitting him, not getting hit, and moving, I’m not really sure how you can score [the fight for Diaz]."
Of course, Condit’s win means that he’ll likely meet another Jackson-trained fighter -- UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre -- to unify the titles once GSP is finally healthy enough to fight again. That’s one he plans to stay out of, Jackson said, since "Georges is my guy as much as Carlos is my guy."
While Jackson admitted that he’s still trying to decide whether he’ll train and corner UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones in his fight with former Jackson’s MMA team member Rashad Evans, he has no such doubt about a potential Condit-St-Pierre bout.
"When the fight happens," he said, "I’ll be eating a cheeseburger somewhere."
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