The first time Carlos Condit stood in the Octagon, on April 1, 2009, the guy standing opposite him was Martin Kampmann - the Danish "Hitman" who was 5-1 in the UFC at the time. Condit was the reigning WEC champion coming over as an import from the UFC/WEC buyout. He had won eight in a row himself.
It was a close fight. So close, in fact, that when Bruce Buffer read the scorecards and announced Kampmann as the winner, Condit looked like a man still holding out hope that it was an April fool’s prank.
But it wasn’t a joke. The loss stood.
Now four-and-a-half years, two knockout of the nights and an interim belt later, Condit will get the chance to avenge that gnawing loss (the first on what has become his revenge tour). Kampmann and Condit will headline the UFC Fight Night 27 card in Indianapolis, and this time Condit insists he’ll arrive free from the most common side effect of hype - that is, complacency.
"First time around I felt like there was a lot of hype and it was my fight to lose," Condit told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of the MMA Hour. "This time around I’m in a completely different place mentally. I’ve trained really, really hard, and I’m prepared to get in there and fight from bell to bell. In that first fight I cruised a little bit too much. I don’t know - I wasn’t real focused."
When asked if he believed in his own hype heading into that first bout, the usually soft-spoken Condit was pretty candid.
"Yeah, probably," he said. "That was a few years ago, and I was a few years younger and more immature. At that point in my career I had talent had gotten me a long way.
"I think with experience a lot of things are learned. In that first fight, going into that third round I felt like I had won the first two and I could cruise through the last round and get the decision. That was a really hard lesson learned. I lost my UFC debut. Martin Kampmann put an end to my win streak. That was something I definitely learned from. Either way, that fight’s behind us, and I’m really looking forward to next Wednesday."
One thing that hasn’t changed is whether or not he believed the wrong man got his hand raised that night in Nashville. Time has not corrected what Condit perceived as a bad judgment.
"You know what, yeah, I think I won the fight," he said. "It was really close. I think he edged me out in a lot of the scrambles and was able to take top control, and that’s why I think he got the judge’s [decision]. But, I definitely did more damage. Yeah, I won the fight. But I could see it was very, very close."