It's been a strange week for Carlos Condit. Hell, it's been a strange week for mixed martial arts. Seemingly out of nowhere, former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz was removed from his title fight against UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre for failure to do public relations or keep his word to UFC brass he'd do them. To fill the main event void, former WEC welterweight champion Carlos Condit was called upon to take Diaz's place.
Condit has always been a noteworthy talent and has surprised expected favorites on more than one occasion. At the 2006 Rumble on the Rock welterweight tournament, he stopped former B.J. Penn jiu-jitsu coach Renato Verissimo with strikes in just 17 seconds into the first round. Condit followed that performance with a submission over the heavily-favored UFC veteran Frank Trigg.
After a brief run in Pancrase, Condit eventually found himself in the WEC where he not only never lost, he became the welterweight champion. His move to the UFC has so far gone well despite losing his first fight against Martin Kampmann. He's rattled off four straight wins against credible opposition.
But in the shark tank of the UFC welterweight division, obtaining a title shot can be as much about achievement as it is timing or serendipity. In this exclusive interview with MMA Nation Radio on 106.7 The Fan, Condit admits he was never really sure this day would ever come. A win over his previously scheduled opponent, B.J. Penn, would likely have earned him one, but there's no guarantee. And beating Penn is no small feat.
Condit also talks about how this turn of events will affect his camp, how he was originally preparing for B.J. Penn, his thoughts on Nick Diaz and most interestingly, he talks about the two most important decisions he made that brought him to the place he is now.
Fuil audio and partial transcription below:
"I don't know. I think if you're not ready or willing to do this side of it, the PR, then you're not ready to be the champion or even a title contender. Not only do we have to fight, we have to sell these fights. It's a business and that's how money is made."
On changing camp:
"I had anticipated that BJ would want to take me down and utilize his ground game so we had already been working on wrestling quite a bit. BJ is no slouch when it comes to that. Honestly we aren't changing too much up. I'm trying to improve on the areas that I need to work on, wrestling being one of them. We are fighting a different athlete in Georges but I think the preparation will be similar except that this will be a five rounder instead of a three rounder.
Who will train him?
"This scenario is one that I saw on the horizon a while back as I was doing well in the UFC and moving up the ranks. I saw this fight as a possibility that was going to happen. I got a plan together and talked to several people, Mike Winklejohn being one of them as you mentioned but also one of the founding members of Jackson's is a guy named Chris Latrell who's an incredible trainer. I've been training with him since I was a teenager. He'll probably be heading up my camp. I feel like I'm in very capable hands."
What it means to his family?
"I've been fighting professionally for almost a decade now. There's been a lot of sacrifices and a lot of ups and downs in my career. Honestly, I wouldn't be here without the support of my wife and my family. I get emotional when I think of all the positivity I get from my friends and my family and my fans. I wouldn't be here without them, that's what was going through my head."
"It's been an incredible turn of events. I've been working hard for a really hard time to give my son a better life and give him every possibly opportunity that I can. I think this is definitely an opportunity to do that."
On if he was worried the opportunity wouldn't come his way:
"You know, in this game, I'm a realist. There's moments of self-doubt. I deal with that at times and there's definitely been some times where I wondered if this moment was going to come and I deal with that. I give it as much thought as I need to and then I get on with it. I do what I need to do to prepare for whatever the next task is. This has been a journey."
On if he'd rather have fought BJ first:
"Nah, this title shot has been what I've wanted since I started fighting and I would still like to fight BJ. He's a legend in the sport. I've looked up to him for a very long time and that would be a win that I would want on my record. For now, I've got to capitalize on this moment and go hard and see if I could get this belt."
His two most important decisions:
"One of them was when my contract was acquired by Zuffa through another organization that they acquired the contracts from. I think it was the WFA, somebody I never fought for and I had the opportunity to go straight to the UFC or go to the WEC. I decided to go to the WEC because I felt like I was still a young fighter and had a lot of growing to do. A lot of improvements to be made. I think that going to the WEC and having that opportunity was definitely one of the best decisions that I've made. But the next one would be going to Greg Jackson's gym. Not only do I have some of the best trainers in the world but I have world class training partners 10 minutes from my house. That was definitely a great decision."