Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight opportunists Carlos Condit and Michael Chiesa will square off this Saturday (Dec. 29, 2018) at UFC 232 inside The Forum in Inglewood, California.
What we have on our hands here is a battle of two men who are at an all-time low in the general public’s eyes. Once upon a time, Condit was the interim Welterweight champion, a nonstop whirlwind of violence with great finishing instincts. Fast forward a few years, and Condit is riding a four-fight losing streak and doesn’t always look like he wants to be in the cage. Meanwhile, Chiesa has yet to climb as high or fall as far, but “Maverick” did drop from Top 10-ranked Lightweight contender to a man without a win in more than two years who couldn’t make weight in his last performance.
The bright side, at least, is that one of them will walk away with a victory here. Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each.
Key Wins: Rory MacDonald (UFC 115), Nick Diaz (UFC 144), Thiago Alves (UFC Fight Night 67), Dong-Hyun Kim (UFC 132)
Key Losses: Georges St-Pierre (UFC 154), Robbie Lawler (UFC 195), Johny Hendricks (UFC 158), Demian Maia (UFC on FOX 21)
Keys to Victory: The former title challenger may be in the midst of a bad slide, but Condit has yet to lose to anyone outside the Top 15. In addition, he still fits the same mold as his best years: dangerous kickboxer, sneaky grappling and mediocre wrestling.
Chiesa will certainly test Condit’s wrestling, but recent fights have proven that Chiesa is more of an opportunistic scrambler than true lock-down wrestler. In general, Condit wins against scramblers, exhausting them with his own endless transitions and eventually taking over late in the fight.
Unfortunately, that was not the case in Condit’s last few fights. Getting choked by Demian Maia does not need to be explained away, but there’s no reason that “Cowboy” Oliveira should have been able to guillotine him, particularly since Condit had already done well and weathered the true storm. In short, I don’t know that there’s any real technical advice here. Condit will get taken down — he always gets taken down — but if there’s any fire left, he’ll fight back constantly, out-strike Chiesa when on the feet, and generally make his opponent’s life miserable. If he cannot do that against Chiesa, it’s really time to call it quits.
Key Wins: Beneil Dariush (UFC on FOX 19), Al Iaquinta (TUF 15 Finale), Franciso Trinaldo (UFC 173), Jim Miller (UFC Fight Night 80)
Key Losses: Kevin Lee (UFC Fight Night 112), Anthony Pettis (UFC 223), Jorge Masvidal (UFC on FOX 8)
Keys to Victory: Chiesa is a back take specialist, a fighter who can get by with holes in his game because if he manages to take the back, the fight is probably over. At Lightweight, Chiesa used his size and brute force to drag foes to the mat and strangle them, but it will be very interesting to see if he can manage that against the bigger men of Welterweight.
Last time out, Chiesa faced what seemed to be a winnable fight against Pettis, a man who struggles with pressure and wrestling. Chiesa did manage to score a few early takedowns, but when Pettis kept scrambling and forcing him to work, Chiesa fatigued and was submitted in the second.
That’s a worrying performance leading into this one, because Condit is rather similar to Pettis in terms of strengths and weaknesses even if his specific techniques are different. Hopefully, Chiesa will be able to perform better without the hellish weight cut, enabling him to compete hard for three rounds. If so, the strategy is clear. Condit throws mean combinations at range, so jamming him into the fence and wrestling is definitely the best bet. If he can frustrate Condit to the point of turning his back, a submission may arise before his cardio is even tested.
Bottom Line: It’s a must-win fight for both men.
Condit is trying to ward off a forced retirement with the fight. It’s not definite that UFC would release him, but I cannot remember anyone else surviving five-straight losses, fan favorite or no. On the flip side, a win isn’t going to put Condit back in the rankings or provide a ton of momentum, but it does put him back in control of his career.
Prior to his last loss, Chiesa was firmly in the Top 10. Hell, he’s currently arguing in court that if McGregor’s bus attack hadn’t split open his face, he probably would have fought Khabib Nurmagomedov for the title the next night. A failed weight cut and second loss are costly though, and now his status as a contender is on the line. If Chiesa wins here, some goodwill will carry over from his Lightweight run and keep him relevant. If not, he’s back to the bottom of the ladder and must work his way up once more.
At UFC 232, Carlos Condit and Michael Chiesa will go to war. Which man will have his hand raised?