The main event of the UFC 143: "Diaz vs. Condit" pay-per-view, which took place last night (Sat., Feb. 4, 2012) at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, featured a former Strikeforce welterweight champion taking on a former WEC welterweight champion for the interim UFC welterweight championship.
Nick Diaz came in with all the hype in the world, the favorite to move right along to a fight against Georges St. Pierre (the actual 170-pound king) later this year. But Carlos Condit has been pushing himself as the man to spoil the party. So did he?
Indeed he did, as he worked one of the smartest game plans of his career en route to a five-round, 25-minute unanimous decision win to earn the title and a promise to meet St. Pierre later this year to unify the belts.
When asked afterwards, Condit thanked his camp for preparing him to win this fight. He also tipped his hat to his opponent, Diaz, who worked his ass off and was shocked when the decision was announced. I'm sure many fans are feeling the same.
This one is going to be debated for a long time.
Condit opened with a leg kick and a circle to the outside while Diaz pushed ahead like he usually does. It was clear from the outset that Carlos was averse to ever letting Nick get him up against the cage in an exchange, though Diaz was able to walk him down plenty.
Considering the cardiovascular conditioning of both fighters, hopping on the bicycle early wouldn't be detrimental in a five-round fight.
It wasn't long, however, until Diaz started putting his hands down and talking trash in an attempt to lure Condit into the war he came in hoping for. It didn't work, though, and Condit stayed true to his game plan.
Boy, what a close opening round.
The second round saw more of the same. Diaz pushing forward, Condit firing off kicks. In fact, "The Natural Born Killer" was circling out and looking to land spinning back fists. His varying offense wasn't having the intended effect, however, and Diaz just kept coming.
Like he always does.
Condit's game plan for the purpose of his opponent and how he operates was solid in the early going. He was sticking and moving, never staying in one place for longer than a second or two. While it was effective in keeping Diaz at bay, it's not something the judges look favorably on.
Through two, it was still extremely close.
There wasn't much change in the third round, other than the fact that Condit was opening up more on his strikes and getting far more comfortable. In short spurts it looked as though he would take the heavy edge but Diaz would always answer back with a well timed and even better placed punch that made the Greg Jackson trained fighter back up again.
After three rounds, the judges were going to have to earn their paycheck in a big way.
Again in the fourth, Diaz started talking, hoping his words could force a sustained exchange where Diaz is best. Condit, of course, was hearing none of it and was content to pick his spots with solid shots from the outside.
And it was working, too, as he was landing cleaner and more often.
Four rounds and who the hell knows, Cecil Peoples was cageside probably just as confused as the rest of us.
As the two got going deep into the final frame, it was no more obvious who the victor would be. Diaz attempted more and more to drag Condit to the ground or work from the clinch but Carlos was too slippery from sweat and too smart to get caught.
Diaz finally got Condit down and took his back while working a rear-naked choke as time ran down in the fight. He couldn't quite make the submission happen but it was a thrilling end to a close fight that seemingly could have gone either way.
In the end, it went Condit's way and he'll fight St. Pierre later this year.
Don't forget to check out our complete results and blow-by-blow coverage of all the main card action.