Carlos Condit was mere moments from capturing welterweight gold against Georges St. Pierre at UFC 154.
In the third round of their headlining clash in Montreal on Nov. 17, 2012, Condit dropped the reigning champion with a perfectly placed head kick and then pounced for the finish, battering his dazed foe with punches and elbows. However, St. Pierre managed to regain his senses, recover guard and ride out the storm. From there, “Rush” closed out a unanimous decision victory with a steady diet of takedowns and ground-and-pound.
While Condit nearly finished St. Pierre, the finally tally wasn’t all that close, as the Tristar Gym representative banked all but the third frame on most scorecards. Still, the memory of that head kick still resonates with the retired St. Pierre, who recently said that he considered Condit to be "the most dangerous guy” in the division.
“It’s definitely a great compliment from a guy like George who’s been in there against the top guys that have ever competed at welterweight at this point,” Condit said during a recent conference call. “I mean, right after the fight he had great things to say. And since then he’s been very complimentary, and so I’m pleased.
“It’s cool when you’re a fan favorite. But when you have the respect of your colleagues, the other fighters in the business and the other coaches, I think that’s even more important for me.”
The former World Extreme Cagefighting titlist has gone 2-2 in the Octagon since that fight, recently returning from knee surgery to stop Thiago Alves in his most recent outing on May 30. A career full of big fights and adversity leads Condit to believe he will be more prepared this time around when he faces Robbie Lawler for the 170-pound strap in the UFC 195 main event on Saturday night.
“I’ve definitely grown up quite a bit just as a person, but also as an athlete and a fighter,” he said. “You know, I’ve been through a couple titles, title fights and done the lead-up and dealt with the pressure.”
The St. Pierre loss marked the beginning of a stretch in which Condit lost three of four Octagon appearances. All three of the defeats came against top-tier competition, as “The Natural Born Killer” also fell to Johny Hendricks and Tyron Woodley during that stretch. It was all part of a learning experience for the 31-year-old New Mexican, who had lost just once in his previous 14 bouts prior to that rough patch.
“I think my fight IQ has increased,” Condit said. “I dropped a close decision to Hendricks. And I feel like I could have won that fight if I had fought a little bit smarter. So that’s definitely one takeaway.
“The fight with Georges my camp was a little bit different,” he added. “It was kind of turned upside down. I didn’t have Greg Jackson, my head coach, in my corner kind of guiding me. And this time around I do have him. There’s a lot of different things. But things have come together very, very well in this camp.”