Carlos Condit spoiled the welterweight party Saturday night at UFC 143 Mandalay Bay, upsetting MMA bad boy Nick Diaz by unanimous decision and ruining the much-anticipated showdown between injured champ Georges St. Pierre and Diaz.
The 27-year-old Albuquerque, NM native went deep in his bag of tricks—throwing spinning backfists, flying knees and a barrage of kicks—to pull out a close, and controversial decision in the 170-pound interim title tilt by scores of 48-47, 49-46, 49-46.
“From my standpoint, being in the cage, I didn’t think it was all that close,” said Condit in the post fight press conference. “I felt like I dominated almost every round.”
Many in the crowd of 10,040 didn’t agree with the assessment from “The Natural Born Killer” as boos rang out immediately after the decision was announced. UFC president Dana White also dismissed Condit’s one-sided breakdown, but did say he felt the former WEC welterweight champ won the fight.
“I had Diaz winning the first two and Condit winning the last three,” White said. “That’s how I scored it.
“I think this is one of those fights that people scored differently. I think because of the style Condit fought, it was a tough one to score.”
Apparently so, while White gave the first round to Diaz (27-8 overall MMA record), none of the judges did. Only one gave Diaz—who certainly appeared to be the aggressor early in the fight with his forward-moving punches—the second round.
Condit (28-5), who has won 13 of his last 14 fights, came on strong in the third round, connecting with a variety of punches and kicks — and maybe even more importantly, his continual movement in the Octagon threw Diaz off his pace.
Still the bout’s outcome appeared razor thin going into the fifth and final round. Condit again connected with strikes in the early going, but Diaz got a late takedown and aimed for the finish.
The outspoken 28-year-old from Stockton, Calif. was so upset by the decision that he immediately told announcer Joe Rogan that he was done with MMA.
“I’m not going to accept the fact that this is a loss,” Diaz said. “You guys pay me a ton, but I don’ think I’m getting enough to keep going on. … I don’t need this shit.
“I pushed him backwards, he ran from me this whole fight. I don’t want to play this game anymore.”
Welcome Back Werdum
Brazilian Fabricio Werdum returned to the UFC in a big way, earning a unanimous decision victory over Las Vegas native Roy Nelson in the co-main event.
“I know Roy is a tough guy, I did everything I could (to finish him),” said Werdum, who improved to 15-5-1 with the victory.
Werdum, who hadn’t fought in the UFC since suffering a knockout loss to current heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos in October of 2008, nearly ended the bout when he floored “Big Country” with a series of knees that opened a big gash over Nelson’s right eye.
But the fan favorite answered with a big right hand, dropping Werdum to the canvas at the end of the round.
The second featured back and forth action with Werdum again getting the best of his opponent. Nelson came out strong in the third though nearly securing a standing guillotine. But once again Werdum’s standup proved superior.
“I never really dwell on losses. I think it makes you a better fighter depending on how you look at it,” Nelson said. “Yeah, it sucks, but I’ll get back in the gym and get better.”
Fans inside Mandalay Bay and watching around the world certainly noticed the UFC’s new opening to the start of the main card nicknamed “Evolution.” The 60-second video sequence, which features archival footage of iconic UFC fighters overlaid onto digital backgrounds that show the progression of mixed martial arts, was created by Digital Domain—a movie production company that worked on the Titanic. The music was composed by the legendary Hans Zimmer.
“We’ve had the same show open for the last nine years and with this monumental FOX deal, and the global expansion of the UFC, we wanted to come up with a new show open that paid tribute to the fighters who helped us build the business and grow the sport,” White said.
Super Bowl Predictions
Obviously White’s pick is a no-brainer as the one-time Boston resident — who wore a Tom Brady jersey to Friday’s weigh-ins — is siding with the Patriots.
While Matt Brown, who scored a second-round TKO win over Chris Cope, is an Ohio native, he also took the Pats.
“I predict the Patriots will win simply because New England is title town,” he said. “My fiancée is from Massachusetts, home of the Patriots, Celtics, Red Sox, and Bruins. All the winning teams are from MA so there is no way the Pats will walk away defeated.”
Condit said it would be a weekend full of underdogs.
“I’m going to take the New York Giants. Sometimes being an underdog is the greatest motivation,” he said.
Welterweight champ St. Pierre admitted he didn’t know much about football, but said he’d go with New York “because it’s the closest city to Montreal.”
UFC funny guy Nelson couldn’t resist the opportunity to chime in, joking “my bet is on the one with “New” in their name.
UFC 143 Results
Welterweight — Stephen Thompson defeated Dan Stittgen by KO (4:13-Round 1, head kick).
Middleweight — Rafael Natal def. Michael Kuiper by unanimous dec. 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.
Welterweight — Matthew Riddle def. Henry Martinez by split dec. 28-29, 29-28, 29-28.
Welterweight — Matt Brown def. Chris Cope by TKO (1:19-Round 2, punches).
Bantamweight — Edwin Figueroa def. Alex Caceres by split dec. 28-27, 28-27, 27-28.
Featherweight — Dustin Poirier def. Max Holloway by submission (3:23-Round 1, arm bar).
Middleweight — Ed Herman def. Clifford Starks by submission ( Round 2, guillotine choke).
Bantamweight — Renan Barao def. Scott Jorgensen by unanimous dec. 30-27, 30-27, 30-27.
Welterweight — Josh Koscheck def. Mike Pierce by split dec. 28-29, 29-28, 29-28.
Heavyweight — Fabricio Werdum def. Roy Nelson by unanimous dec. 30-27, 30-27, 30-27.
Welterweight — Carlos Condit def. Nick Diaz by unanimous dec. 48-47, 49-46, 49-46.