Condit Denies Diaz, Captures Unanimous Nod at UFC 143

By Brian Knapp Feb 4, 2012
For the first time in nearly four years, someone other than Georges St. Pierre wears welterweight gold in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Carlos Condit circled out of harm’s way, stayed true to his game plan and willed his way to victory, as he captured the interim welterweight crown in a unanimous decision over Nick Diaz in the UFC 143 headliner on Saturday the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

All three cageside judges saw it for Condit (28-5, 5-1 UFC) by 48-47, 49-46 and 49-46 counts. The 27-year-old Albuquerque, N.M., native has delivered 13 wins in his last 14 outings and will face St. Pierre in a unification bout later this year, likely in the fall.

“It’s pretty surreal,” Condit said. “I couldn’t have done it without my coaches and teammates. I did what they told me to do, and I walked away with a victory.”

Diaz was largely unsuccessful in his approach, as he spent much of the 25-minute bout stalking and attempting to corner the former WEC champion. However, Condit leaned on his conditioning, maintained a strict adherence to strategy and never allowed the vaunted volume punching of his opponent to come into play. The “Natural Born Killer” seemed to find another gear in the third round, as he began putting leather on Diaz’s face with more regularity, mixing in thudding kicks to the leg, body and head, as well. Unlike previous Diaz foes, Condit never broke.

“My endurance has always been a strong point,” he said. “It’s always been a part of my game where I felt like I could overcome my opponents and outpace them, and, [in] this fight, I was able to hang with him.”

With the fight slipping out of reach, Diaz (26-8, 7-5 UFC) saw his last chance to finish come and go in the fifth round, when he wheeled around behind Condit, dragged him to the ground and locked him in a body triangle. From there, he searched for the rear-naked choke that would have rendered the judges’ scorecards moot, only to be denied the submission and, ultimately, a 12th consecutive win.

“In a lot of my other fights, I’ve kind of come on strong in later rounds, and I did [in this one],” Condit said. “I started to find my flow. Hat’s off to Nick Diaz. He’s a warrior, and I have nothing but respect and admiration for how he fights. I hope you guys were entertained.”

Condit will toe the line against Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts stablemate and longtime welterweight king St. Pierre once the pound-for-pound ace recovers from reconstructive knee surgery.

“It’s an honor,” Condit said. “Georges is a guy I looked up to since I was a young guy. It’s an honor to compete on this stage with guys like Nick Diaz and Georges St. Pierre.”

Werdum Clinch Work Wrecks Nelson

Two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist Fabricio Werdum made a triumphant return to the Octagon, as he smashed Roy Nelson in the clinch en route to a unanimous decision in the co-main event. All three judges scored it 30-27 for Werdum, whose work under famed muay Thai trainer Rafael Cordeiro has paid enormous dividends.

Werdum (15-5-1, 3-2 UFC) trapped Nelson in the Thai plum repeatedly, bashing him with brutal knees to the head and body. By the end of round one, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 10 winner was a bloody mess. The knees took an obvious toll, but Nelson stayed in the fight. He winged right hands, hoping one would land and alter the trajectory of the fight. It never did.

Known more for his ground skills, Werdum has never looked better on his feet. In addition to the close-quarters knees, he blasted away with punches to the head and kicks to the legs and body. Nelson (16-7, 3-3 UFC) snatched a standing guillotine early in the third round, but Werdum, one of the world’s premier grapplers, freed himself without much trouble and resumed his work on the feet.

“I know Roy Nelson is a tough guy, but I trained my knees every day in muay Thai,” said Werdum, who had not fought in the UFC since October 2008. “I’m very happy. I’m ready for the next fight.”

Koscheck Edges Pierce on Scorecards

Josh Koscheck File Photo

Koscheck slipped by Pierce.
Josh Koscheck emerged victorious from a grueling three-round battle with Mike Pierce and secured a narrow split decision over the former Sportfight welterweight champion in a pivotal matchup at 170 pounds. All three judges scored it 29-28, two of them for Koscheck (17-5, 15-5 UFC).

The two welterweight standouts spent much of their time jockeying for position in the clinch. Koscheck won the takedown battle, 2-1, perhaps swaying the judges ever so slightly to his side. Koscheck’s 15 UFC victories tie him with Tito Ortiz for fifth all-time, trailing only Matt Hughes (18), Georges St. Pierre (16), Chuck Liddell (16) and Randy Couture (16).

Pierce (13-5, 6-3 UFC) did nothing to lower his profile in defeat. The 31-year-old Portland, Ore., native hammered Koscheck with stiff left jabs, uppercuts and straight rights. All five of his career defeats have come by decision.

“I find a way to win,” Koscheck said. “Mike Pierce was a tough guy. I knew that coming into this fight.”

‘Barao’ Streak Reaches 18

A multi-pronged standup attack and airtight takedown defense carried surging bantamweight contender Renan Pegado to a unanimous decision over former WEC title challenger Scott Jorgensen. The 24-year-old Brazilian swept the scorecards by matching 30-27 counts, as he recorded his 18th straight victory.

Pegado (28-1, 3-0 UFC) assaulted the legs, body and head of his durable foe, firing jabs, knees and kicks with patient precision. A three-time Pac-10 wrestling champion at Boise State University, Jorgensen (13-5, 2-1 UFC) failed on every one of his takedown attempts against the Nova Uniao standout. With the exception of a buckling right hook in the first round, he was in over his head on the feet.

Content to stand on the outside, Pegado methodically picked apart the Twisted Genetiks representative, as he racked up the points with his superior standup skills and remained undefeated inside the Octagon.

“I came in here to fight three rounds. He was a very tough opponent. I expected that, but I was well prepared,” Pegado said. “I had a really good game [plan], and my team helped me a lot. I trained a lot at [using] the distance and [using my] kicks. That was exactly the game plan.”

Herman Choke Submits Starks

“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 finalist Ed Herman submitted previously unbeaten Arizona Combat Sports representative Clifford Starks with a second-round rear-naked choke in their middleweight showcase. Starks (8-1, 1-1 UFC) tapped out 1:43 into round two.

Starks made his presence known, even in defeat. The muscular 30-year-old peppered Herman (20-8, 7-5) UFC with heavy right hands throughout their encounter, bloodying his ear and damaging his left eye. However, he succumbed to takedowns in both rounds. In the second, Herman took it to the floor with a beautiful trip into side control, transitioned to mount and ultimately moved to Starks’ back. From there, he worked patiently for the rear-naked choke and secured it against the cage. Soon after, he was celebrating his third consecutive victory.

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