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Carlos Condit, just one fight removed from a narrow split decision loss to then-Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight titleholder Robbie Lawler, was submitted by Demian Maia less than two minutes into their UFC on Fox 21 main event on Saturday in Vancouver, British Columbia. The loss was Condit’s fifth in his last seven fights dating back to 2012. Afterwards, the former UFC interim welterweight champion, a fighter who has been near the top of the division for years, suggested that perhaps the end was near.
“I don’t know if I have any business fighting at this level anymore,” Condit said during the post-fight press conference, still reeling from his first submission loss since 2006. “I’ve been at this for a really long time, and the pressure of kind of being one of the top guys for almost a decade, it’s been awesome. I’ve loved being involved in this sport for the time that I have, and I’ve gotten to do what I love for a living for a long period of time, but I don’t know, man. I don’t know if I belong here anymore. We’ll see.”
We’ve heard a lot of fighters say these kinds of things before, but usually, this kind of insight comes far too late. Granted, Condit is 2-5 over his last seven fights, but it’s hard to believe that he no longer has the physical tools to compete in the Octagon. Outside of his submission defeat to Maia, Condit’s losses have all been highly competitive. He was one judge’s scorecard away from being the UFC welterweight champion earlier this year, as he went to war in a “Fight of the Year” contender against Lawler. One could even argue that Condit pushed Lawler over the edge and left him ripe for the picking against Tyron Woodley. He also had Georges St. Pierre in a world of trouble at UFC 154 in 2012. The fact remains that Condit is better than a majority of the fighters populating UFC welterweight division.
With all that said, if his mind isn’t in it, maybe he’s right; maybe he doesn’t belong in the UFC anymore. It’s a sad thing to say considering that Condit has been a pleasure to watch compete. He shouldn’t be pushed out the door at 32, but the door should be held open for him to walk out of the sport on his own terms. Nobody knows exactly how Condit feels. However, the cues have been there for several months. After losing to Lawler in January, Condit discussed the possibility of walking away. He hasn’t hitched the idea of retiring to losing. Rather, it appears that he has thought about his long-term health and pondered what the purpose of fighting would be if he wasn’t champion.
Nothing is wrong with that.
There are too many fighters who choose to fight for far too long and retire broke and damaged. We have discussed to exhaustion the issue regarding fighter pay, and sooner or later, fighters who were once in their prime end up competing and risking their health for not nearly enough money. We’ve watched too many fighters end their careers on sour notes and become shells of their former selves. The lasting image of one of your favorite fighters getting punched out by a younger, fresher opponent can be unshakable, and Condit may not want to be on the receiving end of those unnecessary punches; they aren’t worth the check he would cash in return. Fighters already have a short shelf life, so if Condit has managed his money right, it’s quite possible that he’s no longer in love with taking damage and prefers to have all of his faculties intact as a father and a husband.
It’s something we don’t see too often in MMA. For the most part, fighters try to capture past glory with a declining skill set, which could lead to lingering issues they will carry with them for the rest of their life. This is a sport where the only person on whom you can rely is yourself; if a fighter’s heart is no longer in it, there aren’t too many outcomes that favor that fighter. It’s far too dangerous a sport, and most fighters aren’t getting paid millions to fight. In Condit’s case, he’s still a physical specimen with the gifts to defeat a boatload of fighters. However, if he’s no longer happy, why continue to fight?
More importantly, Condit should be commended for his approach to this issue. He’s a man of few excuses and refuses to give away any that he might have. If he sees the end, we should applaud him for departing before he suffers any long-term damage.
Andreas Hale is the editorial content director of 2DopeBoyz.com, co-host of the boxing, MMA and pro wrestling podcast “The Corner” and a regular columnist for Sherdog.com. You can follow on Twitter for his random yet educated thoughts on combat sports, music, film and popular culture.