St. Pierre is the champ, after all, and fighting him is still the holy grail for any welterweight who harbors ambitions of being recognized as the best in the world. The road to any legitimate 170-pound title has run through St. Pierre since 2006 and it will continue to do so until someone can knock him off his pedestal in a way that doesn’t feel fleeting or fluky.
For Condit, that’s a chance you absolutely cannot pass up. The “Natural Born Killer’s” rise from WEC titlist to middle-of-the-pack UFC contributor to now interim UFC champion is a feel-good story of the highest order. Perhaps more than anyone, his career path was disrupted when Nick Diaz took a rubber mallet to the organization’s welterweight plans. Condit must have felt a little like the last kid picked for playground basketball as he got shuffled through a series of prospective opponents and possible dates while the UFC tried (unsuccessfully) to manage Diaz’s various peculiarities.
Now that Condit has triumphed over all of that and secured a fight with St. Pierre, it’s perfectly understandable that he wouldn’t want to risk losing it. Who would?
For matchmakers and number-crunchers, Condit versus GSP is certainly the most lucrative welterweight matchup the UFC could promote this year, or at least the next best thing, now that any immediate hopes for St. Pierre-Diaz have been dashed. Any time you can get a sniff of some actual competition for the most dominant 170-pound fighter in history -- who, we are continually reminded, is also your best pay-per-view draw -- I suppose you do everything you can to make that bout happen.
Feels like kind of a bummer though, doesn’t it?
Here we have the most intriguing weight class in the UFC building an unprecedented sense of momentum, a talent pool that rivals that of the vaunted lightweight division, and now we have to push the pause button on the title picture for the next 10 months.
Any way you slice it, the decision to keep Condit out pending St. Pierre’s recovery is logical, but it’s not exactly ideal.
Why even crown an interim champion if he’s just going to cool his heels for almost an entire year? Isn’t the point of having an interim champ that he’s available to defend the belt while the real champ is out? And if he can't put the title on the line against anyone other than St. Pierre, doesn’t that make Condit more No. 1 contender than champion, interim or otherwise?
Condit made just one Octagon appearance during 2011 and if he waits on GSP until November, it will mean he’s fought just twice in the last 16 months. That’s an awful lot of down time and very few paydays for a guy who will turn 28 in April and who might now sit idly while the most potentially lucrative year of his fighting career passes into history.
It would be one thing if there wasn’t anybody else for Condit to fight, but that’s certainly not the case in the welterweight division right now. Watching Jake Ellenberger rough up Diego Sanchez on Wednesday night, it was hard not to imagine what a five-rounder between "The Juggernaut" and a technical wizard like Condit might look like. Or, for that matter, to wonder if Ellenberger’s mix of physical strength, wrestling prowess and punching power might actually make him the most intriguing matchup for St. Pierre.
Now, we may never know. As it stands, the UFC is holding the line that Condit will likely wait for GSP, that Ellenberger could face the winner of Johny Hendricks’ May meeting with Josh Koscheck and that -- for all intents and purposes -- the welterweight title may as well not exist until this winter.
And yeah, that might be the right thing to do, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.