Natural Born Killer: The 5 Best Moments of Carlos Condit's Career
If he is able to beat his fellow First Round Management stablemate, he'll earn a shot at the welterweight championship that will be decided in the main event between Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler. Condit is a former WEC champion and UFC interim champion, but he fell short in his shot at unifying the belts against Georges St-Pierre.
But with St-Pierre on hiatus from the sport, the top of the division is wide open. Condit told Bleacher Report last week that it is an opportunity for others, including him, to make a statement. The brass ring is available for the taking, and Condit is one of many top welterweights who are hoping to grab it.
Over the course of the last few years, he has vaulted from virtual unknown to one of the more recognizable fighters in the division. He is also one of the most exciting fighters in the sport, thrilling fans with few exceptions.
How did he get here? Today, we take a look at the five biggest moments from the career of "The Natural Born Killer."
WEC 26: Defeated John Alessio by Rear-Naked Choke, Won WEC Championship
After submitting Kyle Jensen in his World Extreme Cagefighting debut at WEC 25, Condit returned two months later to fight for the vacant WEC Welterweight Championship in March 2007. His opponent was John Alessio, who was already a veteran of nearly nine years in mixed martial arts.
Alessio had faced some of the best in the sport: Pat Miletich, Thiago Alves and Diego Sanchez, among others. And though he had lost most of his biggest fights, he was still considered a dangerous opponent.
The fans who packed into the Hard Rock Hotel barely knew the 22-year-old Condit, even though he sported a 19-4 record. Alessio, with a Canadian flag sprawled behind him during the introduction, had the majority of fan support.
As referee John McCarthy called the fighters to the center of the cage for last-minute instructions, Condit flashed the intimidating scowl that fans would come to know so well.
He took the center of the cage, but Alessio scored the first offense with a takedown early in the first. But then, showing signs of the dangerous guard that would later be a hallmark, Condit swept Alessio and got back to his feet.
Alessio scored another takedown. Condit got back to his feet.
In the second round, Condit began to outstrike Alessio. As he would in so many later fights, Condit grew stronger and more confident as the fight wore on.
With 30 seconds left in the second, he hurt Alessio with knees and then took full mount and began punching him. Alessio turned away to avoid the strikes, and Condit sunk in a rear-naked choke. With one second remaining in the round, McCarthy called the fight, and Condit was the WEC welterweight champion.
He would defend the belt three times before making the jump to the UFC.
UFC 115: Defeated Rory MacDonald on the Brink of Defeat
After losing in controversial fashion to Martin Kampmann in his UFC debut, Condit rebounded with a win over Jake Ellenberger. At UFC 115 in June 2010, he was then booked against Rory MacDonald, an undefeated Canadian prospect with a bright future.
For almost the entire fight, MacDonald lived up to his potential, battering Condit. It seemed MacDonald was on his way to a decision win. But as he had so many times before, Condit got better as the fight progressed, and he took control in the final frame.
As the fight drew to a close, Condit stood above MacDonald and rained down punches, and with a mere seven seconds remaining, the referee stopped the fight.
MacDonald's hometown crowd in Vancouver was unhappy with the decision. And in hindsight, perhaps it was stopped prematurely. But the fight illustrated a hallmark of Condit's career: He's never out of a fight until it's actually over.
UFC 120: Defeated Dan Hardy by Knockout
October 2010: London, England. Two exciting strikers. Condit, the consummate professional. Hardy, the brash and loud-mouthed Brit. It had all the makings of a thrilling bout, and it did not disappoint. Especially the ending.
Picture this: Late in the first round, Hardy and Condit stood in the pocket, exchanging punches. At nearly the same instant, both threw a left hook. Condit's landed first, and Hardy fell unconscious to the mat.
Once again, Condit had beaten a local hero, and he had done so in highlight-reel fashion. He earned the Knockout of the Night award, his second consecutive performance bonus.
It would not be his last.
UFC 143: Defeated Nick Diaz by Unanimous Decision, Won Interim UFC Title
After separating Hardy from consciousness, Condit knocked out Dong Hyun Kim with a spectacular flying knee at UFC 132. The win earned him the most high-profile fight of his career against BJ Penn. But when Nick Diaz—who was scheduled to face Georges St-Pierre on the same card—failed to show up for several media obligations, Dana White pulled him from the card and gave Condit the title shot.
But then St-Pierre suffered a knee injury, and Condit elected to wait and fight St-Pierre for the title when the Canadian returned from injury. Diaz faced and defeated Penn, and after the fight, White announced that Diaz, not Condit, would face St-Pierre upon his return.
St-Pierre suffered another knee injury, however, and Condit—who was scheduled to face Josh Koscheck at UFC 143—was booked to face Diaz in a fight for the interim welterweight championship.
On February 4, 2012, Condit executed a masterful game plan, keeping Diaz at bay with leg kicks and confusing him with foot movement. The boos from the Diaz faithful in the crowd rained down, but Condit refused to stray from coach Greg Jackson's strategy. In the end, Condit would be awarded the win (and the interim championship) by unanimous decision.
Though it was not the "real" UFC title, the interim belt proved that Condit belonged among the UFC's welterweight elite.
UFC 154: Lost to Georges St-Pierre by Decision
After defeating Diaz, Condit was booked in a champion vs. champion bout against St-Pierre, who was finally returning from multiple knee injuries.
St-Pierre had seemingly coasted through most of his title defenses. That was not the case against Condit. In a back-and-forth battle in November 2012, Condit managed to become only the second person (after Matt Serra) to score a knockdown on St-Pierre when he landed a head kick early in the third round. Condit attempted to finish the champ on the ground but was unable to do so.
St-Pierre survived that scary moment and went on to win by unanimous decision. The bout earned yet another Fight of the Night bonus for Condit, who cemented his place near the top of the division. Afterward, St-Pierre noted that Condit was the toughest opponent he had ever faced.
Although he lost the fight, Condit's performance against St-Pierre may have been one of the best performances of his career. He has been firmly entrenched as a perennial title contender ever since, and on Saturday night, he goes into his UFC 171 bout against Tyron Woodley with the chance to earn another title shot.