UFC welterweight Carlos Condit has received, and continues to catch, a lot of flak for his decision to sit on the sidelines, waiting for injured champion Georges St. Pierre even if it means remaining inactive until the end of 2012 and leaving legitimate contenders out in the cold. However, “The Natural Born Killer” shouldn’t be faulted for his choice just because it doesn’t fulfill fans’ wishes. Rather, he deserves respect for sticking to his guns instead of risking the biggest opportunity of his career to placate the public.

The two primary reasons Condit’s choice is the right one have to do with money and legacy. Every Mixed Martial Artist is competing on borrowed time. It’s the nature of the sport. As the father of a young child who works in a business where every outing could be his last, why should Condit be carefree with a chance to greatly improve his status in both areas? He shouldn’t, and if you think you would act any differently in his shoes you’re lying to yourself.

The payday involved in a bout with GSP (or the rematch with Nick Diaz) is one that greatly exceeds that involved in a match-up with Johny Hendricks or Jake Ellenberger, two fantastic fighters who are deserving but also guys who average fans aren’t fully familiar with. Put simply, Condit vs. GSP/Diaz is a stand-alone PPV headliner while Condit vs. Hendricks/Ellenberger would pass for a main event needing a strong #2 on the card to bring in the buys. The former would merit a Primetime series, the latter a 15-20 minute segment on UFC Countdown. It could if not almost certainly would be a six-figure difference in salary once everything was factored in. And, again, for that kind of cash who wouldn’t follow Condit’s lead and wait 6-7 more months than you normally would between fights.

Perhaps more important than the cash is the career-related matter of potentially beating St. Pierre compared to risking a loss against Hendricks/Ellenberger. Condit barely edged out Diaz and Ellenberger in his match-ups with them, nearly lost to Rory MacDonald in 2010, and was outpointed by Martin Kampmann in his UFC debut. He’s smart enough to know a competitor like Hendricks or Ellenberger could easily rain on his parade the same way he did Diaz’s march to a super-fight with GSP. Comparably, if he clips St. Pierre to pick up a finish or even beats him by way of decision he’ll solidify his status as the #1 welterweight in MMA and take the first step on a path to becoming one of the all-time greats. Fights with Ellenberger and Hendricks will always be out there but St. Pierre for the belt on his current run is a once in a lifetime occurrence.

Would I like to see Condit fight again sooner than later? Absolutely, but I also understand why he’s going to sit back, spend time with his family, and be St. Pierre’s #1 cheerleader when it comes to the French-Canadian champion successfully rehabbing his knee. It’s not because he’s afraid. It’s because he’s intelligent.

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