Condit would be the tougher task
If Nick Diaz defeats Carlos Condit on Saturday and earns the right to fight Georges St. Pierre, or earns the right to fight someone for the right to challenge St. Pierre and wins that one too, I'll have nothing to complain about.
Not for one second.
St. Pierre, the UFC welterweight champion, sounds genuinely interested in hurting Diaz, in teaching the roughneck a lesson. The concept of seeing an oft-robotic GSP so emotionally invested in an opponent, I'll concede, is a strong enough tide to make the rest of my argument moot.
Yes, everything about GSP-Diaz is immensely intriguing, and any mixed martial arts watcher would be crazy not to by excited by it.
However ... the way I see it, Condit is a tougher out for the French-Canadian fighter. Not by much, but enough to make me feel that if "The Natural Born Killer" stepped in against GSP, the UFC would have a new welterweight champion to promote. I doubt I'd be alone in that prediction if Condit ends Diaz's 11-fight win streak at UFC 143, which I think he will.
(Shoe on the other foot: Diaz bests Condit and he'd prove himself more than capable of doing the same. No doubt, similar predictions would pinpoint the Californian as a new champ, but I'd stick with St. Pierre.)
Anyhow, this all hit me after Diaz was forced out of a fight against St. Pierre and the UFC slotted Condit in last year. My initial reaction then was "this might actually be a harder fight for St. Pierre." Time hasn't altered my opinion any.
There is, too, the added dimension of what would happen during training camp for a St. Pierre-Condit tilt. Both fighters are loosely affiliated as members of Greg Jackson's camp. Jackson has already said he would excuse himself from working with either man for the fight, and that (one has to imagine) would test the bonds of all the relationships involved. I wouldn't mind seeing how well the Jackson-Firas Zahabi-John Danaher coalition holds up under the immense pressure of it all.
But that's secondary stuff. Most important, as always, is the fight. And the only reason I'd dare say Condit is more intriguing to me than Diaz as a challenger of St. Pierre is this: I think Condit has a better chance of walking away with the belt.
Book a ride to Planet Diaz
This is to say nothing ill of Carlos Condit.
If ever there was a live dog in a recent high-profile bout, it's Condit, who will fetch adventurous bettors something approaching 2-1 odds this weekend against Nick Diaz at UFC 143.
Stylistically, the fight seems much, much closer than the numbers, as the power of the likable former WEC welterweight champ matches up with Diaz's breakneck pace and inexhaustible cardio in a way that's impossible to predict on paper.
Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond Condit's control, the only role available to him here is spoiler. Again, not his fault, but the possibilities of a budding feud between Diaz and Georges St. Pierre are just too good to pass up.
Diaz-GSP is the bout the fans want, the fight both fighters desperately desire, and ultimately you have to believe it's the one matchmakers want to book, too.
Clearly, Diaz is the guy who more neatly fits into the story the UFC wants to tell this year. Despite his numerous quirks, the organization appears to have lost its doubts somewhere along the way -- probably about the time of his wicked beatdown of B.J. Penn in October -- and has gone whole hog in promoting the Stockton bad boy.
It's certainly no coincidence that scenes of a recuperating and suddenly brooding St. Pierre turned up last week in an episode of "UFC Primetime" ostensibly designed to sell us Saturday's Diaz-Condit fight. Promoters are going out of their way to let us know how badly the ailing champion wants a piece of Diaz after the Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu product accused St. Pierre of faking an injury to avoid a fight.
Frankly, the UFC would be crazy to want anything else at the moment. Given Brock Lesnar's recent retirement, Anderson Silva's injury and pay-per-view numbers flattening out across the board, the company needs big fights ... and we all know what the big fight in the welterweight division is right now.
Condit is a great competitor who likely will be around the immediate welterweight title picture for years to come, but right now the money and the excitement are all in Diaz-GSP.
So, even as the UFC supports the UFC 143 main event with a wave of advertising dubbing it "the fight they weren't seeking [that] just became the biggest fight of their lives," you can't blame any of us if we're keeping an eye on the possibility of much richer things to come.
'GROSS POINT BLANK'
Play Podcast Josh Gross discusses the upcoming fight between Carlos Condit and Matt Brown on December 14th and chats with Shannon Knapp about Women's MMA, and much more.
Play Podcast Josh Gross discusses UFC 167, George St. Pierre defending his welterweight championship with a split decision against Johny Hendricks and much more.
Play Podcast Joshua Gross gives an in-depth preview of UFC 167 with Brett Okamoto, breaks down the card top to bottom, and delves into St-Pierre vs. Hendricks.
Play Podcast Joshua Gross talks to Royce Gracie about his father Helio, the family and UFC 1.
Play Podcast Joshua Gross talks about Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier's matchups at UFC 166 with their trainer Javier Mendez. Plus, Brett Okamoto previews the rest of the card.
Play Podcast Joshua Gross sits down with UFC 166's Darrell Montague to talk about his UFC debut in Houston later this month, plus Terry Trebilcock recounts his promotion's story, and more.
Play Podcast Josh Gross talks with Mark Munoz about being matched with Lyoto Machida after Michael Bisping was injured, and Jake Shields about his fight against Demian Maia on Oct. 9.
Play Podcast Josh Gross recaps UFC 165 with Franklin McNeil. Plus, Glover Teixeira talks Jones vs Gustafsson and how he would stack up against Jones given the opportunity.