Carlos Condit publicly wondered back in January if his loss to then-welterweight champion Robbie Lawler at UFC 195 would be the swan song to his 15-year mixed martial arts career. And although Condit decided to ultimately jump back into the fray, the question of retirement arose once more on Saturday night, when in the throes of his first-round loss to Demian Maia at UFC on FOX 21, the 32-year-old Condit admitted that the end of his fighting days may be approaching.
"I don't know if I have any business fighting at this level anymore," Condit said at the UFC on FOX 21 post-fight press conference. "I've been at this for a really long time, and the pressure of kind of being one of the top guys for almost a decade, it's been awesome. I've loved being involved in this sport for the time that I have, and I've gotten to do what I love for a living for a long period of time. But, I don't know, man. I don't know if I belong here anymore. We'll see."
Condit (30-10) suffered the fastest loss of his fighting career at UFC on FOX 21, submitting to the jiu-jitsu wizardry of Maia via rear-naked choke in less than two minutes. The loss exacerbated a career slide that has seen Condit go 2-5 over his last seven fights since he was crowned interim UFC welterweight champion, and although he very nearly captured the UFC title earlier this year, Condit admitted that retirement is something that has been in the back of his mind for some time now.
"It's been a long career and I think there comes a point in every fighters' career that they have to kind of question how long they're going to continue to do that," Condit said. "And I've been doing that for a little while. It wasn't my night tonight. I don't know if that's going to be the swan song for me. Hopefully not. I would hate to go out on a loss like this. I would've at least liked to have got in there and put on an exciting show like I usually do.
"But yeah, I don't know what's in the cards. I'm leaning towards probably, possibly being done."
A win over Maia would have likely thrust Condit right back into the title conversation, but Maia never gave Condit a chance.
The Brazilian took the fight to the floor within the opening seconds, then nailed Condit with a punch from half guard that Condit admitted "rattled" him. From there, Maia took Condit's back and seized the fight-ending choke, yet the part that Condit sounded most surprised about is the fact that he was so hurt by a seemingly ordinary punch from half guard.
"Honestly, I've had a tough career with a lot of fights and I've taken a lot of punishment," Condit said. "And I don't know if I can continue to take shots, honestly."
Condit now moves back into an already crowded pack of welterweight contenders. Considering the logjam at the top of the division, plus the potential return of big-money fighters like Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz, it could take a decent climb for his name to return to title contention.
Nonetheless, Condit is also one of the most celebrated finishers the sport has ever seen, and even at age 32, "The Natural Born Killer" remains one of the toughest outs in the welterweight division.
"I'll probably talk to the people around me, talk to my wife, and kind of make the decision after we've had some discussion and then a little bit of assessing of where I'm going, what's on the horizon," Condit said.
"That's what this sport is, you win and you lose, and ultimately it's about going in there and testing your skills, and it doesn't always turn out in your favor. Tonight it didn't for me."
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