The UFC 195 headliner between Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit was the type of instant classic that practically screams “immediate rematch.”
The reigning champion, who eked out a controversial split-decision triumph, admitted as much during his post-fight interview with UFC analyst Joe Rogan.
“There was two winners tonight,” Lawler said. “Let’s do it again.”
However, a return date might not be the slam dunk it seemed to be in the immediate aftermath. At Saturday’s post-fight press conference, Condit admitted that the loss had him contemplating retirement -- even while he’s seemingly in the middle of his prime.
“I’ve been at this for a long time, over 40 professional MMA fights,” Condit said. “I came up short tonight. I don’t know. Tonight was kind of a do-or-die moment for my career. I was all in. If I got that strap I was gonna keep fighting. If I didn’t, like I didn’t, I have to see if I can continue to do this.”
With that said, it’s no sure thing that “The Natural Born Killer” will hang up his four-ounce gloves. Making such a decision requires thinking beyond the first few hours after a grueling five-round championship fight.
“It’s not really an emotional thing. I’m not dejected,” he said. “I have to evaluate, but there’s a possibility that might be my last one. We’ll see.”
If it was Condit’s last Octagon performance, he went out in style. In a bout many observers thought he won, the Jackson-Wink MMA standout outlanded his foe by 84 significant strikes while throwing at more than twice the volume. He also survived harrowing moments the second round, when Lawler briefly dropped him, and in the fifth, when the champ had him on wobbly legs during a frantic final two minutes.
Count UFC President Dana White among those whose unofficial scorecard had Condit on the winning end.
“The fight was awesome. I thought Carlos Condit fought the fight of his life tonight. Carlos Condit threw [nearly] 500 significant strikes tonight. It’s crazy,” White said. “I had it 3-2 Condit, but I’m not a judge, so nobody probably gives a s--t what I think. Much respect to Robbie, he came out and did what he needed to do in the fifth round. It was one of the greatest rounds I think you’ll ever see in a fight. Congrats to both guys.”
It was Condit’s second championship fight -- third if you include his interim title win over Nick Diaz -- in UFC competition, but the New Mexico native can leave with more satisfaction than he did at UFC 154, when Georges St. Pierre grounded the lanky striker for much of their matchup.
“I think this fight was closer. I’m proud of the way I fought,” Condit said. “A guy like Robbie stylistically is better. We went out there [and] we threw down. It wasn’t him laying on top of me. We were out there throwing some heat trying to put each other down. It was a different fight. He pushed me. I had to fight my ass off instead of that technical ground-and-pound, arguably boring fight that was my first title shot.”
Condit attacked with a varied offensive repertoire throughout the fight, which kept Lawler off balance for lengthy periods of time. Still, the champion had his moments, and those were enough to hold onto the title.
“Part of the plan went well. I think my distancing was good. I was able to make him miss a lot of his big shots. I was able to catch some of mine. He had his moments where he was able to get in the range where he’s super dangerous at, in that boxing range and throw those devastating hooks,” Condit said. “I got caught in the second, and then in that last flurry in the fifth. He was where he wanted to be.
“The game plan was to use my range and distancing to dictate the fight. Some of it went according to plan and some not so much.”
Condit admitted that he thought he did enough to win the bout, but at the same time, the disappointment of defeat is not something that will envelop him in the coming weeks as he makes a decision regarding his future.
“Win or lose, I’m out here living my dream. I get to fight for a living and compete against the top guys in the world,” he said. “I did what I do and sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Unfortunately tonight was not my night.”