Carlos Condit is the new interim UFC welterweight champion.
In a fight that could have been scored any number of ways through the opening two rounds, Carlos Condit distanced himself from Nick Diaz over the final three rounds, using exceptional movement and combinations to get the better of the former Strikeforce champion on the scorecards.
Things got tense late in the fifth round for Condit, as Diaz took his back, dragged him to the ground, looking to secure a submission. Condit defended, eventually switching out, ending the bout attacking Diaz’s back. While it was a solid final attempt from Diaz, it wasn’t enough.
The officials scored the bout 48-47, 49-46, and 49-46 for “The Natural Born Killer,” who fought back tears as UFC President Dana White wrapped the interim title around his waist.
Condit fought an outstanding strategic fight, using leg kicks throughout the five rounds, and constantly moving, never allowing Diaz to pin him against the cage as he has done so many opponents during the course of his 11-fight winning streak. While Diaz stalked and taunted, Condit moved, landed, and moved again, clearly getting the better of the exchanges over the final three rounds.
The opening two rounds were incredibly close; Diaz pressing the action and landing in bunches, Condit picking his spots, scoring and getting into space. Over the final three frames, Condit started finding his rhythm, his conditioning holding up throughout the bout.
Condit was humble in victory, praising Diaz for his performance and his approach inside the cage.
Diaz wasn’t pleased with the decision, questioning the scoring, and then going one step beyond.
The unfiltered former Strikeforce champion said he was done competing in MMA, frustrated with what he felt was another decision loss that he didn’t deserve. Diaz congratulated Condit, but argued that nothing the new champion landed did much damage, and that he ran throughout the contest.
Sadly, despite Condit winning a hard-fought, smart fight to become the new interim UFC welterweight champion, he’s likely to remain overshadowed by Diaz in the wake of the Stockton, California natives announcement at the close of the show.
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In the co-main event of the night, heavyweight Brazilian jiujitsu black belts Roy “Big Country” Nelson and Fabricio Werdum went toe-to-toe in a meeting that would move the winner one step closer to title contention.
Back in the UFC for the first time since losing to current heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos at UFC 90, Werdum came out on fire, busting Nelson up with a series of brutal knees from the Thai clinch. The fact that “Big Country” stayed standing is a testament to the former Ultimate Fighter winner’s chin.
The second was a continued showcase of the improvements Werdum has made in his striking under the tutelage of famed Muay Thai coach Rafael Cordeiro. While Nelson continually came forward, Werdum picked his spots, landing with power, mixing up his punches and leg kicks with occasional knees to the body when the two got close.
The final five minutes was more of the same, as Werdum continued to land almost at will, further bloodying Nelson as the round wore on. In the end, Werdum earned a clean sweep of the scorecards, collecting scores of 30-27 from all three judges.
This was an outstanding return performance for Werdum, who showed he’s become a much more well-rounded fighter during his time away from the UFC. While he had a somewhat disappointing performance in his final bout under the Strikeforce banner, this dominant performance puts the Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion into title contention.
Long-time welterweight contender Josh Koscheck returned to action for the first time since knocking out Hall of Famer Matt Hughes in September, going to battle opposite Mike Pierce, a fellow former collegiate wrestler who asked for this opportunity back in December.
Pierce proved to be more than Koscheck expected, taking the opening round, surprising Koscheck with his striking and pressing the action through the first five minutes. The second was much closer. Both men continued to land in the stand-up, and an accidental clash of the heads opened a cut on the top of Pierce’s head. Late in the frame, Koscheck rushed in and successfully completed a takedown, though managing to do little with the position.
The third would prove to be the deciding round, and while Pierce scored with a takedown early, Koscheck equalled him late in the round. Both fighters landed some solid blows in the final five minutes, with the outcome uncertain as the fight came to a close.
After 15 minutes of solid action, the judges rendered their verdict, awarding a split decision victory to Josh Koscheck with scores of 29-28 across the board. While the fans showered Koscheck with boos as always, they should have been applauding the two welterweights for an outstanding battle.
The bantamweights delivered an action-packed back and forth affair as always, with Brazilian standout Renan Barao earning a hard fought unanimous decision win over former title challenger Scott Jorgensen.
Both 135-pound competitors landed quality strikes over the course of the 15 minute contest, but Barao was the more active and accurate of the two. While Jorgensen would land with a single solid shot, Barao connected with more power and more combinations throughout. It was a gutsy performance from Jorgensen, who took continued to press the action and stand in with Barao from start to finish, but Barao was clearly the better man on this night.
With the win, Barao extended his unbeaten streak to an incredible 29-fights. After quickly finishing Brad Pickett back in November, Jorgensen was a step up in competition for the long time teammate of UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, and he passed with high marks. Having knocked off the former title challenger and perennial top 5 talent, Barao moves to the head of the list of challengers for the bantamweight title.
Ultimate Fighter Season 3 finalist Ed “Short Fuse” Herman and Clifford Starks kicked off the pay-per-view portion of the night with an entertaining middleweight scrap.
The two traded bombs heavy blows in the opening round, Starks landing several straight right hands, causing swelling around the left eye of Herman. Both were noticeably slower as the second kicked off, where Herman used a slick trip to bring the fight to the ground, landing in side control before quickly moving to mount.
As Starks scrambled to try and escape, Herman took his back and sunk in a rear naked choke, earning the tap just over a minute into the second frame. After missing nearly two full years following numerous knee surgeries, Herman has now won three straight since returning to the Octagon last June.
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Full results for UFC 143 are below:
  • Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson defeats Dan Stittgen via KO (Headkick) – Round 1 (4:13)
  • Rafael Natal defeats Michael Kuiper via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
  • Matthew Riddle defeats Henry Martinez via Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Matt Brown defeats Chris Cope via KO (Strikes) – Round 2 (1:19)
  • Edwin Figueroa defeats Alex Caceres via Split Decision (28-27, 27-28, 28-27)
  • Dustin Poirier defeats Max Holloway via Submission (Mounted Triangle/Armbar) – Round 1 (3:23)
  • Ed Herman defeats Clifford Stars via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) – Round 2 (1:43)
  • Renan Barao defeats Scott Jorgensen via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Josh Koscheck defeats Mike Pierce via Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Fabricio Werdum defeats Roy Nelson via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)