In the not-so-distant past this weekend’s UFC 137 card was set to feature some fisticuffs between Nick Diaz, Strikeforce’s streaking 170-pound champion, and Georges St. Pierre, one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in MMA and welterweight’s reigning divisional king.
However, to recap for those of you who may have suffered blunt head trauma in the past few weeks, the UFC puff-puff-passed Diaz’s title-shot to Carlos Condit after he failed to appear at a pair of press conferences promoting the event and then booked him to fight friend and former training partner B.J. Penn instead.
Now, with St. Pierre out injured and Condit waiting patiently in the wings, the UFC could find itself in a very awkward position when the smoke clears Saturday night in Las Vegas. If Diaz beats Penn, a UFC Hall of Fame lock who’s held titles in two divisions, he will have improved his stock after already having been named next in line. Comparably, Condit has been given the impression he won’t be displaced by Diaz and remains in line for the next crack at St. Pierre’s championship.
What should the UFC do in that scenario?
First, don’t confuse yourself by thinking Dana White’s promises mean anything. There is no question they are made with the best intentions in mind but his words can often be as empty as a pumpkin patch on November 1. Plenty of fighters have seen guaranteed title-shots come and go when circumstances dictated the need to go another direction so to think Condit is special for some reason is, like simply walking into Mordor, folly.
Secondly, don’t make the mistake of believing the UFC will hold Diaz’s no-shows against him. He paid his price already and White has come forward to say he’ll be handling Diaz differently in the future where media appearances are concerned.
If Diaz does indeed beat Penn, a huge assumption considering the islander’s abilities, he will have eleven straight wins in comparison to Condit’s four in addition to a few outside factors working in his favor. Not only was he supposed to face GSP to begin with, but he’s a far bigger draw than Condit in terms of drumming up fan interest and the UFC is in the business of selling tickets/PPVs.
As such, there are no convincing arguments for allowing the “Natural Born Killer” to keep his status as #1 contender and he should absolutely relinquish it if Diaz is successful against Penn. Diaz may have fought some lackluster opponents during his stretch, but Condit did the same while in WEC and Diaz’s wins over Evangelista Santos, Paul Daley, and Penn are at least as impressive as anything Condit has done in the last five years if not more so. What, Condit knocked out Rory MacDonald in the final ten seconds of a fight he was losing on the scorecards and knocked out Dan Hardy (losses in his last four fights), so he should maintain a position he was handed on a technicality? Hardly.
MMA subscribes to the Janet Jackson line of thinking – “What have you done for me lately?” – and in this scenario Condit will have spent months twiddling his thumbs while Diaz would have picked up a huge win and added another layer of intrigue to his already fascinating persona after the last few months of antics.
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