Former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) Welterweight champion Carlos Condit faces Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre this Saturday (Nov. 17 2012) in the UFC 154 main event from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Despite only being 28 years old, Condit has already been through a ton in his mixed martial arts (MMA) career. He has competed successfully in top organizations all over the world, but finally hit his stride inside the high-profile Octagon. After a very tight fight against fellow contender Martin Kampmann, Condit rattled off five straight wins, earning three "Fight of the Night" awards and capturing the interim 170-pound belt.
This weekend, Condit will face his toughest opponent yet in St. Pierre. And he will need to use every tool in his arsenal to emerge from bees nest with a fistful on unified championship honey.
Does Condit have the skills to dethrone GSP?
Let's dig deeper:
Condit is an excellent Muay Thai practitioner. He has clearly embraced the "Art of Eight Limbs," and is dangerous from every position. It is evident that Condit has spent long hours with Muay Thai champion and Jackson's Submission Fighting coach Mike Winklejohn, and you can see improvements with each passing fight.
Being a lengthy Welterweight (6'2" with a 76" in reach), he prefers to use his long kicks to stifle his opponents' offense before attacking with his own. This is especially obvious in his most recent fights, where he used leg kicks to throw Nick Diaz and Dan Hardy off of their games.
Check it out:
Condit also loves to throw teeps and front kicks, using them as a range finder. After they open up his opponents defenses, he will follow up with punches ... or even a flying knee:
For a lanky fighter, Condit packs a surprising amount of power into his punches. He has a crisp jab and straight right hand, but his most powerful punches are his hooks. Condit has no problem wading into the fray and whipping nasty hooks at his opponent.
Just ask Dan Hardy:
Or Dong Hyun Kim:
Condit is very dangerous from the clinch. He is quite aggressive once he gets the Muay Thai plumb, throwing as many knees to the face as he can without worrying about takedowns or counters. If his opponent begins to block the knees, Condit will attack with knifing elbows.
Condit is one of the few defensively sound fighters in the UFC. When he is fighting at range, he is able to shut down his opponents offense and prevent most of their big shots from landing. However, Condit is an extremely aggressive fighter. Sometimes he is too intent on finishing the fight or is sucked into a brawl and forgets to move his head
The weakest aspect of Condit's game is his wrestling, yet it is still above average. Since his clinch is so dangerous, his opponents forget to look out for takedowns; they're too busy trying not to swallow Condit's knee. He likes to grab over-under in the middle of an exchange and go for a trip takedown.
One of Condit's most used tools when defending takedowns is the kimura sweep. Whenever he gets a chance, Condit will latch onto an arm and roll. The move doesn't always finish (Although it did finish Takuya Wada in Pancrase), he will use it to get on top of his opponents. This technique is what Condit used to reverse Rory Macdonald's takedown in the third round of their fight, leading to the eventual come-from-behind finish.
This is the one area of MMA where Condit's aggression has come back to hurt him. Condit is not afraid of risky techniques, like the above flying knee, and sometimes they get him taken down. Condit hasn't had the best luck with grinders, meaning that if he can't finish them early, they eventually overwhelm his defenses, like Jake Shields and Pat Healy were able to do.
Condit has earned a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. It is not the most technical, or pretty; however, he is so aggressive with his submissions and sweeps, it doesn't really matter. Condit has shown an aptitude for both butterfly and high guard.
From the high guard, Condit likes to rotate between attacking the arm and with a triangle. If neither of those stick, he will switch to the above mentioned kimura, or try to get back to his feet. An important part of his guard attack is that Condit never rests. From the second his back is on the mat, he is throwing elbows strikes or short punches. By not allowing his opponent to rest, it opens up submissions.
Condit's utilization of the butterfly guard is a fairly new addition to his game. In my opinion, butterfly guard is one of the most underused positions in all of MMA. It allows the bottom man to keep his opponents off balance, which means they can't effectively land hard punches. It also is the best position for sweeps, which are generally higher percentage moves than submission attempts. Even if the sweep attempt fails, the opportunity to stand up is always available with butterfly guard. Against Dong Hyun Kim, Condit used one butterfly hook to sweep the Korean, who is well known for his ability to control fighters on the ground.
Three of Condit's five losses are by submission. While they all took place a long time ago (the latest in 2006), it is still worth noting because he hasn't grappled with many submission specialists since then. He has fought jiu-jitsu aces like Nick Diaz and Martin Kampmann, but neither fight spent much time on the mat.
St. Pierre is one of the most talented grapplers in the history of MMA. If he wants the real Welterweight belt, Condit needs to practice his defensive and offensive jiu-jitsu to exhaustion to be on the safe side.
Condit is where he is because of his tenacity. His best aspect isn't his sick Muay Thai or dangerous submissions, it's his never say die attitude backed up by ferocious aggression. Condit enters the cage with an angry snarl, and completely backs it up, attacking with everything he has until he gets a finish.
It's not by mistake that Condit has finished 26 of his 28 wins ... he truly is a "Natural Born Killer".
When you look at one of Condit's past matches on paper, he rarely has most -- if any -- of the advantages. His opponents are often stronger, more athletic competitors. He can't compete with them in those aspects, but he can out will them, breaking his opponents. This was never more apparent than his fight with Macdonald, where he was out struck and out wrestled, before finally sapping Macdonald's cardio in the third round. As "Ares" slowed, Condit got on top and pounded hin out with a continuous onslaught of ground-and-pound until the ref had seen enough with just 10 seconds remaining on the fight clock. Condit beat Jake Ellenberger in similar fashion, surviving a hellacious beating in the first round before coming back to win a split decision.
Best chance for success
As seems to be a trend, Condit is once again the underdog to a stronger, more athletic opponent. His game plan should be to do what he always does: attack until his opponent gives up. Condit needs to go after "Rush" without any fear like Matt Serra did to win the title.
I recommend Condit open up with as many oblique kicks as he can. St. Pierre likes to find his range before he really opens up, so if Condit can disrupt that early it will pay dividends. It also wouldn't hurt to see if St. Pierre's surgically-repaired knee is truly as healthy as he claims.
Condit cannot just stay at range and try to pick apart St. Pierre. If he does, St. Pierre will either eventually go for a takedown, which Condit has little chance to stop. Or he will start to utilize his jab, and Condit does not want to spend five rounds getting his eye socket pushed in. Instead, he needs to attack with hooks whenever he has the opportunity. St. Pierre keeps a relatively high guard, so it wouldn't be a bad idea to tee off on his body and then work to his head. St. Pierre panicked when rocked by Serra, so if Condit can hurt the French Canadian even a little, he has an excellent chance of finishing.
If St. Pierre decides to take the fight to the ground, Condit needs to attack. Constantly. A never-ending barrage of elbows to the face will at least delay GSP's spectacular guard passing game. If he sees St. Pierre make even a minor mistake, Condit needs to attack, whether that be jumping on an arm bar or escaping to his feet.
Will Condit pull off the biggest win of his career, or will Georges St. Pierre's hold on the top of the Welterweight division remain firmly in place?