Former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) champion, Carlos Condit, is set to take on Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veteran, Martin Kampmann, this Wednesday (Aug. 28, 2013) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind., in the main event of UFC Fight Night 27.
After decimating a majority of his opposition on the regional circuit, Condit was invited to the WEC, a mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion eventually purchased Zuffa, the parent company of UFC. "The Natural Born Killer" won five straight in the promotion, finished all of his opponents and claimed the title as his own before the organization's heavier weight classes were absorbed into the UFC.
Condit debuted against Kampmann and battled "The Hitman" to a close split decision loss at UFC Fight Night 18 in April 2009. Afterward, Condit went on a tear, winning five straight bouts, including a controversial decision over Nick Diaz. Condit had finally worked his way to a title shot and was set to face Georges St. Pierre in his home country of Canada.
While Condit ultimately failed to dethrone "Rush," he came closer than most to landing a fight-ending shot. Not one to request an easy fight, Condit was next matched against Johny Hendricks. Unfortunately, "Big Rigg's" stellar wrestling was just enough to win a decision over the feisty New Mexican.
Now, Condit looks to avenge one of his few career losses against Kampmann, while also avoiding a dreaded three-fight losing streak. But does he have the skill to do so?
Let's take a closer look:
Condit has devoted himself to becoming a Muay Thai master. Every attack he uses is derived from "The Arts of Eight Limbs," and he's constantly honing his skills with Mike Winkeljohn, whom he's been training with since he was a teenager.
While Condit is certainly a fearsome puncher, his true talent is his kicking ability. Condit possess a wide range of kicks to the leg, body and head, varying from round house, teep and switch style of kicks. In particular, Condit's use of leg kicks to disrupt his opponent's rhythm is quite excellent, as seen in his fights with Diaz and Dan Hardy.
Another important tool in Condit's arsenal is his front kick. Condit can use it when he's pressuring or circling, either to keep his opponent at distance or give himself room to explode forward with punches. In addition, he frequently follows up his front kick with a jumping knee.
Condit will occasionally throw kicks on their own, but he really excels when mixing them into his combinations. One of the reasons his punches are occasionally a bit too loose is because he likes to use the momentum from his punches to power into his kicks. Condit frequently follows up his hook with a hard kick, a technique he used to nearly dethrone St. Pierre.
Condit has a very active jab, which he almost always follows up with a hard straight right hand. Condit manages to cover a lot of distance with his right hand and mixes it in with his kicks as well as any of his other punches. In his most recent fight, Condit did a very good job of herding Hendricks into his right hand with his jab.
A majority of the punches Condit throws are hooks. This is because Condit can both land his hooks with power and set up his kicks, which is a huge part of his game. Condit really lunges with his hooks, increasing their power, as well as the chance of getting countered. The most devastating example of Condit's left hook is his thunderous knockout of Hardy, where both he and the Brit threw left hooks with Condit's landing just moments earlier.
Condit also possesses a variety of violent knee strikes. In addition to his jumping knees, Condit likes to throw stepping knees. These stepping knees serves as brilliant takedown deterrents and can do serious damage. Finally, Condit's ultra-aggressiveness from the Thai plumb often leads to vicious knee strikes to head and body, where he will also attack with slicing elbows.
While Condit's overall defense is generally pretty good, his hands occasionally stray from his chin. What's more, he's been vulnerable to getting pressed into the fence and getting blasted with power shots, a maneuver Jake Ellenberger nearly finished Condit with.
Condit has never been a strong wrestler, and this weakness is the reason for most of his losses. While he rarely gets beaten up from the top position, being controlled is rarely looked upon favorably by the judges and has cost him multiple decisions. On the rare occasion Condit is the one attempting a takedown, he likes to trip from the over-under position.
When Condit does end up on top of his opponent, he is absolutely violent. Condit likes to attack with brutal elbows and punches from the half guard, maintaining a furious pace. Condit's vicious ground-and-pound resulted in his win over a tiring Rory MacDonald and was a big part of his victory over Ellenberger.
Condit has two techniques that he constantly uses to defend takedowns. The first is the switch. While his opponent is looking for a double-leg takedown, Condit will thread one of his arms through their legs and attempt to turn them over for a takedown of his own. Condit successfully hit a switch on St. PIerre, and while he failed to reverse Hendricks, he repeatedly used the switch to stand up against him.
While technically a Brazilian jiu-jitsu maneuver, Condit's use of the kimura as a defensive wrestling technique is outstanding. Once his opponents' arms are wrapped around him, Condit will immediately begin looking for a figure-four grip on their arm. If he can get it, he'll drop down to his half guard and attempt to roll them over. In his UFC career, Condit has hit the kimura sweep on both MacDonald and endricks.
Overall, Condit's defensive wrestling isn't that of an elite Welterweight. He's been able to get by with very solid jiu-jitsu and absurd tenacity, but it has and will continue to cost him fights. After his last fight, he said he's going to focus on his wrestling more, so it will be interesting to see his improvement.
Condit has earned a brown belt in jiu-jitsu and has finished 13 of his opponents via submission, although he has yet to tap anyone in the Octagon. Condit is an extremely active submission artist, understanding the value of ground strikes better than almost anyone.
Condit recognizes that creating space is fundamental to achieving anything off of his back. To do this, many grapplers utilize some form of open guard. And while Condit will occasionally do this, his primary way of creating space is with a frenetic attack of elbows and punches from his back.
When Condit is attacking with these small strikes, his opponent has two options. He can continue to stay in close and try to land shots, which St. Pierre showed is possible, but he will certainly swallow plenty of painful punches as he does so (this is partially the reason St. Pierre was so cut up at the press conference).
The other option, which most fighters take, is to back away and consider their options.
When they back out of Condit's guard, they have a few options. They can either dive back in with a big punch, close in and work to pass, or let Condit back to his feet. Since going back into the meat grinder that is Condit's guard is so unappealing, most fighter's choose to back away, or at least hesitate long enough that Condit can kick them away. If his opponent does either of the first two, Condit will immediately climb his legs into a high guard position looking for a submission.
If nothing materializes, Condit will immediately go back to carving them with strikes.
In his fight with Korean blanket specialist Dong Hyun Kim, Condit found himself on his back early. He worked in a butterfly hook in and began to occupy one of Kim's arms with his own. Next, he elevated Kim and rolled backward, while pushing off the cage for additional leverage. The butterfly guard isn't a big part of Condit's game, but this incident shows he's quite proficient from that position.
In addition to using it as a takedown defense, Condit likes to use the kimura when his opponent leaves a hand on the mat. He'll immediately hip bump up and reach over their shoulders, threading his arm through. If he can, he'll work for the sweep first, rather than trying to finish from his back.
While he hasn't been submitted since 2006, Condit does occasionally leave himself open to submission attacks. Kampmann managed to lock up a few very tight choke attempts by forcing Condit into a grappling exchange, nearly ending the fight multiple times.
Indeed, Condit's aggressiveness isn't just a factor on the feet, it can leave him open to counters on the mat.
Best chance for success
Hopefully, Condit has stuck to his word about improving his wrestling skills. If he has, this fight will be much easier for him because he had the striking advantage in their last outing.
While Condit has played around with a more movement-based style of fighting, it would be best if he stuck with what got him his fame and fans: Aggression. Condit needs to relentlessly pursue Kampmann and force his back to the cage, where he can land long combinations safely.
Condit should maintain his forward pressure, but he must not get too aggressive. Kampmann is a very game fighter who is capable of pulling finishes out at the last minute (ask Thiago Alves), so Condit needs to remain cautious. I'd also recommend against any takedowns of his own because Kampmann had little difficulty finding Condit's neck when he shot last time.
Kampmann will most likely try to clinch with Condit at some point in their fight. A good way to avoid this would be to rely on his front kick and teep, as both kicks create distance well. In addition, if he finds himself in the clinch, it would be wise to work out immediately rather than work on landing knees and elbows. Kampmann is just as capable from the clinch with strikes, but is the better wrestler from that position, meaning Condit would be at a disadvantage.
Does Condit have what it takes to avenge his first UFC loss or will Kampmann prove his victory was no fluke?
For a closer look and "Complete Fighter Breakdown" of Kampmann be sure to click here.