Carlos Condit, 32, has been a professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter since 2002, meaning that he has dedicated nearly half is life to the sport. Way back then, cage fighting was viewed as a freak show, but “Natural Born Killer” stayed the course, worked hard and ultimately earned the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) Welterweight title.
He continued that success inside the Octagon when Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) purchased WEC and merged rosters, winning five of his first six matches for the world’s leading MMA league and capturing its interim 170-pound crown in Feb. 2012.
In other words, Condit has been around the block. He is the classic “old school” fighter who is now thrust into an age where hard work is trumped by the loudest voice and providing for a family can sometimes hinge on infrequent Reebok “bonuses” rather than total freedom to build a personal brand.
“By the time I got the notoriety to get bigger sponsors, the sponsorship tax had already taken effect, but I still had some pretty lucrative sponsors,” Condit recently told BloodyElbow.com. “Nothing super crazy, but definitely enough to cover training expenses to give me a little bit of a buffer, and a little bit of security in case I got hurt, or in case my opponent pulled out of a fight.”
Those types of sponsors more or less ran for the hills the moment UFC announced its deal with Reebok, which now outfits every fighter on the roster, as well provides the promotion with a lump some of sponsorship money to divvy up among them based on some scale that always appears to be just a drop in the bucket.
“We weren’t consulted,” he explained. “This Reebok deal that affected us so heavily …nobody asked our opinion, nobody sought to ask anybody, ‘What do you think of this?’ It was super heavy-handed and a lot of us lost a lot of money.”
So it’s no surprise that an old hand like Condit has quickly noticed the direction in which the business is headed. And, accordingly, he is not going to fault fighters — even the champion of his own division, Tyron Woodley — who chase “big money” fights rather than settle for the most deserving contender.
“It’s not Tyron Woodley’s job to be fair to us,” said Condit, who lost a match to “T-Wood” back in 2014 when his knee gave out. “The only people he owes is himself, his coaches and his family. He’s calling for these big money fights because this is a dangerous sport, and you never know when you’re going to be done. He’s just trying to make that money while he can, and honestly, I can’t blame him.”
Condit will try and make that money — and slingshot himself into a rematch against Woodley for a world title — when he battles Demian Maia at UFC on FOX 21, which takes place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on Aug., 27, 2016. Because he’s smart enough to know that being at the top — and being able to call the shots — is where the big money is at right now.