MMA interim champ Condit's time has comeLong wait for showdown with St. Pierre will end at UFC 154
By NEIL SPRINGER, QMI Agency
|Carlos Condit celebrates his win over Rory MacDonald in a welterweight bout during UFC 115 at GM Place in Vancouver. Condit will meet Georges St. Pierre Nov. 17 at UFC 154 in Montreal. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ QMI AGENCY)
As far as Carlos (Natural Born Killer) Condit is concerned, his upcoming fight with UFC welterweight champion Georges (Rush) St. Pierre has been years in the making.
Though the interim 170-pound titleholder will meet St. Pierre in a unification match at UFC 154 in Montreal Nov. 17, the bout has been on his mind well before the two were ever paired up.
“I've been thinking about this fight for years,” Condit said over the phone. “As I was kind of rising through the ranks, Georges was a guy that I looked up to. This is something I’ve wished for a really long time.
“This is what I've been working toward for a really long time. Fighting Georges, who is one of the best athletes ever seen in this sport — I’m excited. It’s an awesome opportunity and it truly is something I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid.”
When Condit joined the UFC roster in early 2009, St. Pierre was already one year into his current title reign. The former WEC 170-pound champion lost a close split decision to Martin Kampmann in his debut, but has not tasted defeat since. He is currently riding a five-fight win streak, with knockout victories over Rory MacDonald, Dan Hardy and Dong Hyun Kim. He won a unanimous decision over Nick Diaz in February to capture the interim strap.
Though Condit feels he could have given St. Pierre a good fight when he first entered the UFC, he feels he now has the dedication and tools to beat him.
“I think I would have given Georges a pretty tough challenge back then, but I wasn’t nearly as serious about my training as I am now,” Condit said. “I really feel like I’ve grown quite a bit in the past couple years with regards to my skills and my athleticism. I don’t know how well I would have done back then, but I feel like I’m quite a bit better as a fighter and as an athlete now.
“A lot of times I think I’m underestimated ... I have some holes in my game — there are definitely some things I need improvement on — and some guys see that as the way they’re going to win. What they don't realize is I have a wealth of knowledge and experience and can pull out wins despite my deficiencies in whatever skill set.”
Though Condit has proven himself to be a force in the welterweight division, he’s being somewhat overshadowed by a potential super-fight between St. Pierre and middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Of course for that bout to happen, the Montreal native has to pull off the win next month.
But playing the role of spoiler is nothing new for Condit. He stopped B.C.’s MacDonald in Vancouver, knocked out England’s Hardy in London and squashed a potential bout between St. Pierre and Diaz.
Condit said he relishes the role of underdog and looks forward to upsetting St. Pierre in front of his hometown fans.
“There’s always something — a rematch, or you have some kind of beef with the other guy, or its his hometown,” Condit said. “There’s always something. I just like the position of the underdog. I also like the position of having nothing to lose and everything to gain. This is another fight where that’s the case.”
Though Condit and St. Pierre both fighters have trained under coach Greg Jackson, the two have never actually sparred with one another. Jackson has since announced he won't be cornering either competitor, which Condit feels puts he and St. Pierre on “even ground.”
But that being said, Condit admitted he had to work hard to replace Jackson, who has been in his corner since the MacDonald fight over two years ago.
“I’ve had to just start working with other guys that are part of the Jackson family,” Condit began. “It’s interesting, I have to bring in maybe two or three guys to fill the void that not having Greg Jackson in my corner leaves.”
Though Jackson has opted out of his camp, Condit is still working with a number of familiar faces, including striking coach Mike Winkeljohn. Winkeljohn recently stated the best way to beat St. Pierre is not to try and out-finesse him, but to hurt him early.
Condit said many of St. Pierre’s previous opponents have underestimated the welterweight champion’s toughness, a mistake he won’t make when the cage door shuts.
“I think they underestimate his will to win,” Condit said. “They underestimate his physical and mental toughness. A lot of guys who’ve fought Georges have said, ‘He's not a fighter. He’s just an athlete.’ Having followed Georges for a long time, I think that’s pretty far from the truth.
“Also, guys really try to game plan and beat him at his strengths and exploit his weaknesses. My approach in this camp has been more to work on my own strengths and weaknesses, and be the best that I can be, instead of really focusing too much on Georges.”
KILLER WANTS HITMAN
If Carlos (Natural Born Killer) Condit has his way, UFC 154 will conclude with stars aligned for him to defend the welterweight championship against Martin (Hitman) Kampmann.
The interim 170-pound titleholder meets UFC welterweight champ Georges (Rush) St. Pierre in the main event of UFC 154 in Montreal Nov. 17. The
co-main event will see Kampmann face fellow contender Johny (Bigg Rigg) Hendricks.
Condit’s last defeat came via split decision to Kampmann in early 2009. Not only does Condit look to avenge the loss, he admits he simply likes Kampmann and wants to see him get the better of Hendricks.
“I like Martin a lot; I think he’s a good guy and a great fighter,” Condit said over the phone. “I would like to rematch him. I’d like to see him be successful because I like him, but there's also the rematch factor. So yeah, I would like to see him win the fight.”