Whether Diaz or Condit, GSP a mean prize

October, 25, 2011
10/25/11
12:02
PM ET
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
ESPN.com
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If you think that mankind isn’t self-destructive, take a quick look at the UFC’s welterweight division. There, you’ll find lots of guys climbing all over each other for the chance to be jab-ridden, thrashed and left on the side of the road by Georges St. Pierre. In that way, it’s become a division of 170-pound martyrs.

That may sound defeatist if your name is Carlos Condit or Nick Diaz, the latest pair to battle for the penultimate position -- but it’s a perspective that’s shaped by recent history.

Remember what happened to the last several contenders that got the “privilege” to fight St. Pierre for that belt?

Bad things, dude.

Josh Koscheck suffered orbital bone fractures and was shelved for nine months; Dan Hardy spiraled to a four-fight losing streak; Thiago Alves not only lost his mojo but also two of his next three bouts; Jake Shields, who hadn’t lost since 2005, followed up his beatdown by getting KO’d by Jake Ellenberger; Jon Fitch is passing eternity with gritting teeth in a rusty cage. Even Bruce Buffer tore his ACL/MCL introducing St. Pierre at UFC 129 in Toronto. All he did was shake his index card at the champion.

In other words, why anybody would lobby to step foot in a cage with St. Pierre is a question best asked of masochists. Or Cesar Gracie.

Gracie says that Diaz should leapfrog Condit for the chance to fight for the welterweight strap if he beats B.J. Penn. But Condit is already there. Diaz or Condit, Condit or Diaz? That becomes its own debate, the one people are talking about.
[+] EnlargeCarlos Condit
Kari Hubert/Getty ImagesAll Carlos Condit has to do is sit and wait for his title shot ... right?

One didn’t have the shot, then did, and now waits. The other had the shot, then didn’t, and now philosophizes on things as subjective as “pecking orders.” Forgetting for a minute spotlight pressure (alleged), Gracie thinks Diaz should be next in line should he beat Penn this weekend at UFC 137, ahead of the guy who took his place for insubordination, Condit.

Might be so, but Condit was already assured the fight would still happen as soon as St. Pierre’s ready. On one side merit gets argued, on the other promises look a lot like trump cards.

Diaz is from the 209, which makes him oblivious to any silly sort of reasoning. Tag, no tag-backs. Who’s right?

Both.

Both sides are (more or less) equally deserving. Same could be argued for Fitch. And if Penn beats Diaz, he too could make his case for a title shot, yet the fact that GSP and Penn have fought twice before doesn’t bode well for an argument, particularly after the one-sided nature of their rematch at UFC 94. Interest is the driving factor. It’s why Penn/Fitch haven’t met again -- there was never even ebb and flow interest in a potential second fight. Just ebb.

That’s why it will boil down to Condit, or Diaz if he wins. Both are novel and mysterious as new opponents. Some people like Diaz’s chances because he’s dangerous off his back and comes forward; others see Condit as an unheralded mangy dog who is allergic to scorecards. Either way, both these guys look like they’d force St. Pierre to fight, and they will both appear deserving of the chance to prove it.

If Diaz does beat Penn on Saturday, we’ll see if the UFC leaves the door open for Diaz/GSP. It would be a cruel thing to lop Condit out of the picture, yet if it’s a fight that people want, the UFC won’t consider his feelings too much.

But, as Muhammed Lawal likes to say, “let’s keep it 100” here for a second -- winning the GSP sweepstakes tends not to be as happy as it sounds. There’s still St. Pierre to contend with, which is the place where careers go to get forked.

In the abstract, Diaz and Condit are jostling for the chance to ruin themselves, and really, what could be more exhilarating for a competitor?

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