Nick Diaz wasn’t robbed so get over it
I don’t understand the shock and outrage people are expressing over Carlos Condit’s unanimous-decision win to claim the interim welterweight belt at Saturday’s UFC 143.
Sure, I’ll admit to being mildly surprised, not because I thought Nick Diaz won, but because you never know what’s going to happen when a fight is left in the hands of the judges. And certainly Diaz vs. Condit is one of the closest five-rounders in UFC history. The fighters’ differing styles only made things murkier.
Diaz’s tendency to walk opponents down and pin them against the cage to pepper them with punches often gives the appearance that he’s dominating fights even if he’s not. And Condit’s strategy of not standing toe-to-toe with him, of being evasive and using lateral movements, backing away and resetting, gave naysayers the impression he was running away. I’ve heard Kalib Starnes‘ name invoked more than once in relation to Condit’s performance, which speaks to the ignorance many MMA fans have when it comes to the finer points of the striking game.
It was clear from the outset that Condit had a gameplan, one that he was able to execute with workmanlike if unflashy efficiency. You don’t beat a grappler by going to the mat, you don’t beat a striker by standing in the pocket and exchanging fire, and you don’t beat Diaz by doing either. If he’d stood in front of Diaz, allowed himself to be phoneboothed against the cage and beaten on (like BJ Penn), Diaz would’ve won and Condit would’ve been criticized for not circling out of the way. Instead, Condit stayed inside his own head, remained calm and picked his moments, while Diaz trash-talked and taunted and put on a show that suckered many into believing he was winning when really he was just a frustrated and angry little boy.
But only one of the fighters was doing any significant damage, thanks to a record-setting diet of thigh-numbing leg kicks and sharp 1-2 combinations. FightMetric credits Condit with landing 68 total kicks, helping him earn the overall striking advantage 151-105. Granted, Condit landed many of those strikes while moving away, but they still landed. He picked his shots and then got the hell out of the way; that’s called smart tactical striking. It wasn’t pretty, but it was pretty effective, and if his name was Lyoto Machida no one would be arguing he didn’t win.
Pro-Diaz pundits also point to Diaz’s octagon control, as if merely standing in the middle of the cage is enough to warrant a win. I don’t think anyone wants to watch fights where that’s a deciding factor. And yes, Diaz did finally take Condit down in the last two minutes of the fight, but he failed to really threaten with a submission, certainly not enough to overcome the damage Condit had already inflicted.
What it comes down to is that Condit refused to play in Diaz’s sandbox and Diaz behaved like a two-year-old suck afterward. He says he’s going to retire, which, if true, is disappointing. He still brings an energy and attitude — and divisiveness — to every fight. For example, consider how exciting the buildup to the Diaz vs. Georges St. Pierre welterweight unification bout would have been compared to Condit vs. GSP. UFC boss Dana White might say he’s not upset that Condit won, but I’m sure, marketing-wise, he’d much rather be hyping Diaz vs. GSP.