For a guy who is only coming into his prime, Carlos Condit has been around the block a few times. Everyone knows that the 27-year-old became the WEC’s welterweight champion and defended it three times successfully before that weight division was integrated into the UFC. That part has been spotlit by television and other media.
But, for a kid that ditched his fair share of school while growing up in New Mexico, when he first broke the news that he was going down to Juarez, Mexico to step into a fight with Nick Roscoria, in a cage, for a promotion called the Aztec Challenge when mixed martial arts were still in the dark ages, while barely old enough to vote . . . well, it came off as a bit ominous to the people around him.
Namely, his mom.
“I remember I had just turned 18, and I told my mom I was going to do a cage fight in Juarez, and she was not too happy, and she kind of freaked out because nobody knew what it was,” he says. “And there were a lot of rumors spread about MMA that weren’t true. But you know what, the event was pretty professional. It was even better than some of the events I’ve done stateside, so it was pretty cool.”
Made all the more cool because his debut was successful; he beat Roscoria by way of a rear naked choke in the first round. He says that his mom has long since come around “now that she sees it as a legit thing,” and probably because her son—who wrestled from age nine—is actually very good at beating people up. (He does concede that she and his father, the Chief of Staff for New Mexico Governor, Bill Richardson, still cover their eyes from time to time when he steps in the cage).
Since that night south of the border, Condit—who first walked into Greg Jackson’s gym when he was 15 years old—has compiled a 25-5 professional record, with every fight becoming a little more high-profile, a little more intriguing. A little forward in the mix of contenders to the welterweight throne.
His upcoming fight with Dan Hardy at UFC 120 on October 16 in London, England, is compelling on multiple levels. For one, it’s rare for two guys to come together who both credit the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as some of their earliest inspirations. Yet, here it is the case. Then you look at the way each guy fights, and the first thing that comes to mind is “sick,” the youthful antonym for “totally intriguing.”
“He’s a very, very dangerous striker for sure,” says the “Natural Born Killer,” who is coming off a third-round TKO over Rory MacDonald at UFC 115 in Vancouver. “You know, I really—I hadn’t thought about fighting him, but given the situation I was in after fighting MacDonald, it makes sense. I knew that Dan Hardy had a fight coming up, and he hadn’t had an opponent named, and I thought it would be the perfect fight for me.”
The exciting part?
“I think he’s going to bring it, and he’s going to try and kick my ass,” he says. “He’s fighting in front of his home crowd, and I am sure he doesn’t want to be embarrassed . . . but that’s exactly what I intend to do.”
That’s what Condit’s been doing of late, having won 10 of his last 11 fights, and having finished nine of them. His lone defeat was his UFC debut in a very close split decision to fellow contender, Martin Kampmann. That fight could have gone either way.
But Condit’s legacy goes back much further. In 2006, on the ridiculously stacked Rumble on the Rock 9 card, he was one of the more unknown fighters among Anderson Silva, Frank Trigg, Jake Shields and Yushin Okami. Yet, he made a statement that night by submitting a prime Frank Trigg via arm triangle before losing a decision to Shields. Since then, he has been on a warpath, with victories over Jake Ellenberger and Hiromitsu Miura among others.
Yet, there’s been one conspicuous difference from how he’s been finishing guys then to now. After submitting 13 opponents in all and four guys in a row—including John Alessio, Brock Larson and Carlo Prater in the WEC—it’s been over two-and-a-half years since he made a guy tap.
“I think my game has evolved and I end up in situations where I’d rather pound somebody out than submit them,” he says. “And also—people are getting better. They see that I am good at submissions and they train to avoid submissions.”
There’s avoiding, and then there’s refusing to tap, and Hardy is one of those who belong to the latter group. Everyone remembers the kimura attempts that Georges St-Pierre applied on Hardy at UFC 111 in Newark this past March, how he survived some pretty gruesome scenes to make it to the end. Hardy ended up dropping a unanimous decision that night, and theoretically this is an advantage that Condit feels he has. His training crew in Albuquerque—Greg Jackson and company—are very familiar with “The Outlaw,” having prepped St-Pierre for his title defense.
“I haven’t had a chance to train with St-Pierre,” Condit says. “He hasn’t been down here in New Mexico since spring, which was around the time I was having my son. But, I train with the people he trains with everyday. I got the guys who made his game plan for Hardy in my corner.”
Though Hardy (23-7, 1 NC) has never lost a UFC fight in his native U.K., Condit doesn’t have any trepidation heading over there to rearrange history.
“I realize it’s his hometown, but he can’t bring them into the cage with him,” he says. “It’s just me and him in there; the crowd doesn’t matter. But it’s an exciting fight. I want to be in those sorts of fights, the ones the fans want to see. People love to see knockdown, drag-em-out fights. That’s why people watch MMA, and that’s why I asked for this fight.”