In a day and age where all sporting personas are doing everything imaginable to be in the public’s eye, it’s the mixed martial artist who refuses to play the game that is on the cusp of becoming the UFC’s next biggest drawing card.
Nick Diaz returned to the UFC following almost a five-year hiatus from the organization this past October at UFC 137 against BJ Penn. Originally he was slated to headline against UFC welterweight kingpin George St-Pierre in a champion vs. champion bout.
Diaz’ refusal to play to the media destroyed those plans after he showed up for one of six flights the UFC booked to get him to back-to-back press conferences between Canada and Las Vegas but after St-Pierre was injured and a lot of mixing and matching he would find himself in a headlining position again against Penn.
Due to Diaz’ unbeaten run as the Strikeforce welterweight champ and beating on lesser competition most predicted for the former two-divisional UFC champion to put Diaz away and send him packing, but that wasn’t the case.
Penn opened up strongly showing off his boxing technique that Freddie Roach once dubbed the best in the sport taking the opening frame unanimously but as we’ve seen on many occasions with the Hawaiian native the chink in his armor is his stamina.
While Penn began to fade Diaz hit his stride blowing Penn’s doors off in stark fashion, according to Fight Metric the 209-native landed a total of 178 significant strikes which at that point was the most in UFC history.
This weekend the stakes get upped when Diaz squares off with fellow top-ranked welterweight Carlos Condit for the interim UFC welterweight title, with the winner becoming an even bigger threat to GSP.
While everyone has noted that the big-money fight will be Diaz vs. St-Pierre somewhere down the line but Condit might be just the man to tip over the apple cart.
Condit isn’t a big fan of media attention either, but he handles it in a much more civil manner than his opponent this Saturday – The Greg Jackson trained combatant first began making strides in the MMA world in the WEC.
During his five-fight run inside the Zuffa, LLC sister-organization he was undefeated winning the welterweight title and defending it on three separate occasions.
Inside the elite 170-pound division he only suffered one defeat in a highly-debated bout with Martin Kampmann in his debut that many thought he won, since then he has been on a four-bout unbeaten streak, most recently smashing Dong Hyun Kim to put him to the top of the title-challengers list.
With 26 knockouts between them it’s safe to say that Diaz & Condit are comfortable throwing around their hands, while Nick is best known for his boxing technique Condit likes to show off his Muay-Thai skills finding great pleasure smashing his knee into an opponent’s face.
Diaz is known for his boxing prowess and can put away his opponents with his power right-hand Condit is a more vicious finisher using punches, kicks, knees and even stomps to put his opponent’s lights out.
Both Diaz brothers like to lure their opponents into a brawl, when things get down and dirty that’s when things swing in the favor of the boys from Stockton, California – Diaz will look to move forward constantly, due to his phenomenal cardio he can keep coming at you with that pace picking you apart.
While Diaz has a clear edge in pure boxing Condit is one of the premiere strikers in the game having more tricks up his sleeve while slinging leather, he likes to mix it up throwing a vast array of techniques of kicks, punches and knees that often throws opponents off their game.
The most intriguing part of the striking battle between these two is the leg kicking ability of “The Natural Born Killer” which turns out to be one of the biggest holes in the game of Diaz.
Evangalista Santos, Paul Daley & Hayato Sakurai won’t be mistaken for top of the pack welterweights in 2012 but all of them found success early on leg-kicking Diaz to keep him at bay but fell into Diaz’ trap and he made them pay the price for it.
Diaz dropped his hands, putting his chin out for the world to see taunting his opponent much like Anderson Silva or Fedor Emelianenko have done in the past which made them attack and come into the rough and tumble world of Nick Diaz’ boxing where he picked them apart and put them away.
This isn’t just a fantastic match-up on the feet; Diaz and Condit are both equally capable of doing damage if this bout goes to the ground.
On paper it looks as if it’s a one-sided victory to Diaz on the floor being a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under his trainer & mentor Ceaser Gracie and having been working on his jiu-jitsu chops since his mid-teens but Condit isn’t a slouch either.
While only being purple belts don’t get it twisted, Condit can take home a limb of anyone in the welterweight division which he has shown, 13 of his victories have come by way of submission using an array of chokes, kimuras and armbars but getting Diaz to submit will be no easy task.
Diaz has never been submitted during his eleven-year career despite being known to pull-guard and spends a lot of time working off his back which is a nightmare scenario for most, but then again most don’t have the submission chops of his caliber.
One of the things working strongly in the favor of Diaz is his conditioning, its well documented that he is a cardio freak who spends his free time running a triathlon but this is also one of his biggest keys to success in the cage.
Condit has never been 25 minutes in his career. The closest he has come to doing so was in his final WEC title defense against Hiromitsu Miura who he put away in the dying seconds of the fourth round.
I’m not saying that conditioning is a problem for Condit because there’s no evidence to support that claim but he has never dealt with someone like Diaz who will be in his face constantly, never backing down and doing so at a frenetic pace.
When this fight arrives there will be no shortage of motivation in the red or blue corner, both men want to be the best welterweight in the world and being the interim UFC champion is the first step on that path.
How wrong is this guy? He obviously knows nothing about the sport, tell him how terrible of a human being he is @justinfauxmma on twitter.
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