Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Carlos Condit showed with his UFC 143 victory over Nick Diaz that he has what it takes to beat Georges St. Pierre.
Georges St. Pierre hasn't lost a fight -- and really hasn't even been tested -- in four years. That's about to change.
Carlos Condit, who won the UFC interim welterweight title by beating Nick Diaz on Saturday night at UFC 143, is going to test St. Pierre in a way he hasn't been tested in years. The next time GSP steps into the Octagon, he'll be stepping into the Octagon with the best opponent he's faced.
We knew heading into Saturday night how physically tough Condit was. You don't win 27 professional MMA fights and win four in a row in the UFC, as Condit already had heading into Saturday night, without a whole lot of toughness.
What Condit showed against Diaz is how mentally tough he is. Condit survived 25 minutes against one of the best welterweights in the world and never wilted. Condit didn't change his game plan in the second round when Diaz started to get the better of the striking exchanges and began openly taunting Condit, as Diaz so often has to his opponents. And Condit didn't panic and didn't give in during the final minute of the fight, when Diaz took him down and took his back. A lot of men -- even a lot of great fighters -- would have been ready to break by that point. Condit couldn't be broken.
So is Condit good enough to beat GSP? As a striker, I believe he's already better than GSP. And he has a more diverse array of submissions than GSP as well. The big question is whether Condit's wrestling and takedown defense will prove to be good enough that he can stay off his back against St. Pierre. That's a tall order, but I like Condit's chances.
St. Pierre is also, of course, coming off a serious knee injury -- the kind of injury that some athletes never fully recover from. And St. Pierre will be battling ring rust when he fights Condit: By the time he's ready to step into the Octagon in November, he'll have been off for a year and a half. St. Pierre is also three years older than Condit. Those are all factors that favor Condit.
GSP will be the betting favorite heading into that fight, but Condit has a very good chance to win it. When Condit beat Diaz on Saturday night, we may have seen the man who has what it takes to beat GSP.
UFC 143 Notes
-- Fabricio Werdum showed off some great muay Thai in his victory over Roy Nelson. Werdum's stand-up has looked ugly in a couple of bad losses to the two best heavyweights in the world, Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem, but make no mistake: He's a very good striker in addition to being the best heavyweight grappler in all of MMA.
-- Matt Riddle's split decision victory over Henry Martinez gives him a respectable UFC record of 6-3, but let's be honest: Riddle is not a very good fighter. He barely got by Martinez, an undersized opponent who took the fight on short notice, and Riddle's other UFC wins are over DeMarques Johnson, Greg Soto, Dan Cramer, Steve Bruno and Dante Rivera. Not exactly a murderer's row.
-- When the 20-year-old Max Holloway stepped into the Octagon with the 23-year-old Dustin Poirier, we got a great look at the future of the featherweight division. Poirier put on a tremendous display on the ground in forcing Holloway to tap out to an arm bar from a mounted triangle, but give Holloway credit for the way he tested Poirier on the feet at the start of the fight. Poirier is a future featherweight title contender, and with work on his ground game Holloway could be too.
-- The UFC's new pay-per-view opening is an improvement over the old gladiator opening, but I still think there should be a fresh new opening with each show and the focus should immediately be on that night's main event fighters.
UFC 143 Quotes
"I know I'm the most hated man in MMA." -- Josh Koscheck, egging on the fans after they booed him following his split decision win over Mike Pierce.
"Don't fall for it when he's talking to you."--Greg Jackson telling Carlos Condit not to get sucked into Nick Diaz's style of fight. Jackson's advice was wise; it came after the second round, when Diaz was taunting Condit and trying to bait him into a brawl, but from the third round on Condit seemed comfortable and ready to fight his fight.
"Those lead leg round kicks -- we work them a lot in karate -- people don't see them." -- Stephen Thompson, after knocking out Dan Stittgen on the first fight of the night. Thompson was right: Stittgen certainly didn't see that kick coming. Thompson is an exciting new fighter for the UFC.
Referee Kim Winslow stepped in at just the right time to stop the fight in Matt Brown's technical knockout victory over Chris Cope. After Brown knocked Cope down, Winslow gave Cope a chance to protect himself on the ground before stepping in to stop the fight when Brown landed two more punches that Cope couldn't answer. Stopping the fight immediately when Brown knocked Cope down would have been too quick because Cope was still conscious and trying to get into a better position. Stopping it any later would have subjected Cope to too much punishment. Winslow's stoppage was perfect.
I disagreed with referee Herb Dean taking two points away from Alex "Bruce Leroy" Caceres after his second low blow of the fight. Warning Caceres for the first low blow was the right call, but the second low blow should have only resulted in one point being deducted, not two. A two-point deduction would have been appropriate for an intentional low blow, but both of Caceres's kicks appeared to be accidental low blows. The judges gave the fight to Edwin Figueroa by split decision, 28-27, 28-27 and 27-28, which means that if Dean had only deducted one point instead of two, it would have been a majority draw.
Later in the same card, Dean again faced a situation where he warned a fighter about a foul and then that fighter committed the very same foul he had been warned about: Dean warned Josh Koscheck to keep his fingers away from Mike Pierce's eyes, and then Koscheck poked Pierce in the eye after that warning. But this time Dean only warned Koscheck again instead of taking even one point away, let alone deducting two points.
When Ed Herman lost three of four fights in 2008 and 2009 and then missed nearly two years with a knee injury, it was reasonable to wonder if his career might be coming to an end. Instead, Herman's stock has shot up with three straight wins since returning from that knee injury, and he looked great on Saturday night. Herman is fighting as well as he ever has.
Michael Kuiper entered UFC 143 as a well-regarded prospect with an 11-0 record, but he wasn't ready for an opponent on the level of Rafael Natal, who beat him by unanimous decision. Kuiper is only 22 years old and may have a good future in the UFC, but he's not there yet.
Fight I Want To See Next
Carlos Condit vs. Georges St. Pierre. This is going to be fun.
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