MMA: UFC 154

GSP-Diaz and the path of least resistance

December, 7, 2012
12/07/12
2:42
PM ET
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
ESPN.com
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Nick DiazJosh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty ImagesMatching Nick Diaz's marketability with GSP is exciting news for everyone except Johny Hendricks.
In a UFC on FOX prefight media scrum, Dana White confirmed what a lot of people were thinking: that Georges St-Pierre wants to fight Nick Diaz next. And, with St-Pierre having been such a good lad this holiday season, that's the new fight they're looking at giving him.

Cool. That's a fantastic fight. It was that way before UFC 137 -- back when it was on, then off -- and it is now. But today, it's a fantastic fight with all kinds of messy side effects. It's a fantastic fight out of time and place, even if it is very fun to think about.

Diaz is coming off a suspension, a loss, an all-but-forgotten retirement and that pre-UFC 137 bit of insubordination that got him removed from his last chance at St-Pierre. Johny Hendricks is fresh off annihilations of Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann, with a gritty decision in between over Josh Koscheck.

These things aren't equal. That's why it's complicated.

Hendricks deserves the fight, but he's only deserving. Diaz is alluring, plus three more things: He's a softer letdown from a "superfight" not happening; he's money; and he's Nick Diaz. If he beats St-Pierre, there's no nightmare attached. The same can't be said if the anonymous bearded guy beats St-Pierre. At least not yet.

But let's try to clarify the situation as it stands: Hendricks, the active No. 1 contender in the UFC's welterweight division, joins a growing list of heavy-handed wrestlers who have Octagon control but no control outside the Octagon (along with Dan Henderson at 205 pounds, and Chris Weidman at 185). You know how it looks? Like these fighters are being asked to keep earning title shots until they lose and title shots are no longer available to them. That's a tough swallow.

Then again, these things happen. Chael Sonnen, who hasn't fought at 205 pounds in half a decade and is coming off a definitive loss at 185, is fighting Jon Jones for the title. If that's justifiable, then this is nothing.

All of this started, of course, with Anderson Silva, who called out St-Pierre. We all knew that a "superfight" was going to involve hurt feelings from people near the top of either division. That's the nature of the big inter-division superfights: the backburners need to stay lit while the champions collide. Thing is, the idea of GSP-Silva is massive enough to trump a few slights. Even Hendricks understood that.

GSP-Diaz, though, isn't a superfight. It's a blood fight, one that lots of people -- St-Pierre especially -- are impatient to make happen. Hendricks, and many others, are having a harder time understanding that.

Complicating things further was the fact that White began chirping about GSP-Silva. It was a forgone conclusion that the bout was happening at one of three fancy venues (Cowboys Stadium, the Rogers Centre in Toronto or a big soccer stadium in Brazil). Silva even flew to Montreal to watch St-Pierre defend his 170-pound belt against Carlos Condit at UFC 154, and was shown on a big screen throughout the PPV reacting to every blow. It was a lot of expectation. It was on. It had to be.

Then it wasn't.

St-Pierre won, but afterward didn't seem overly excited for a Silva bout. In fact, he seemed peeved at all the presumption going on around him. Buzzkill. Then he went on vacation to heal and not think about fighting (a fib, because he was clearly thinking about Diaz).

St-Pierre wants Diaz. Silva wants St-Pierre. Diaz wanted Silva (remember that?), but he's cool with St-Pierre. That's straightforward enough. St-Pierre went last, so his vote is newest. He picks Diaz. Diaz isn't Silva, but, with no super-clash with Silva, it's better than Hendricks. He comes equipped with anticipation from the UFC 137 moment that never happened. He comes equipped with unfinished business, which is sellable. Plus, GSP-Diaz isn't a huge departure from GSP-Silva. In fact, GSP-Diaz might be bigger when you factor in the hype and lead-up.

Does any of that make it right? No. But it's not wrong, either.

[+] EnlargeJohny Hendricks
Ed Mulholland for ESPN.comSeeing Johny Hendricks miss out on a chance to challenge for Georges St-Pierre's title is a raw deal for those who trust the UFC's pecking order.
If anything, it's awkward timing coming on the heels of the whole Sonnen/Henderson/Jones "marketability versus meritocracy" blow-up, but this instance has better legs. Diaz's suspension was harsh, considering he had a medical marijuana card in the state he lived in. And his loss to Condit wasn't very definitive. It was close. St-Pierre and Diaz also belong in the same weight class, and are both are among the consensus top five in the division.

More importantly, these guys hate each other. Why prolong the inevitable?

Not that any of that matters to Hendricks, who has very politely went about his business of knocking out or beating each guy placed in front of him. This is a raw deal for him. Not to mention a raw deal for people who trust the pecking order. Or for the purists, or those who believe Hendricks is a far scarier challenge to St-Pierre than Diaz.

These people may be right. I tend to think this way, too.

But the UFC was promising GSP-Silva. And when that couldn't be made, it went to the next big thing. And that's GSP-Diaz. With so many promises floating around out there at once, the UFC chose the route of disappointing the least amount of people possible.

Now there's really only one thing left to say about it: Sorry, Johny.

Fitch targets title; 'Ace' nears retirement

November, 30, 2012
11/30/12
7:13
AM ET
Gross By Josh Gross
ESPN.com
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video Jon Fitch felt UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre would be too much for Carlos Condit. And the American expects the same of himself when he meets Demian Maia on Super Bowl weekend in Las Vegas.

"It will be an interesting matchup," Fitch told ESPN.com after verbally agreeing to the fight last week. "I haven't created too much of a game plan, but I think I'll overwhelm him with everything that I bring to the table."

The bout will likely suffer from a lack of headlines leading up to UFC 156, in large part because the card, as it unofficially stacks up, is loaded. Then again, like the stone-grinding that follows Fitch from fight to fight, a weak spotlight is normal. While Maia isn't a particularly powerful draw either, his recent conversion down to welterweight has revitalized the Brazilian jiu-jitsu wizard's prospects of fighting for a UFC championship.

Maia looks every bit a serious, well-rounded mixed martial arts contender, and Fitch is the perfect guy to test that.

"He's really a monster at 170," Fitch said. "I was surprised at how big he was down in Rio [at UFC 153]."

Despite Maia's size -- along with everything else the 35-year-old Brazilian brings into the cage -- Fitch believes his own work rate and pressure will prove too much. That's how the wrestler unwound the tornado that is Erick Silva in mid-October, when he and Maia were tremendous at UFC 153.

Fitch, 34, has been a fixture at the top of the welterweight class for the past five years, and it's hard to argue a win over Maia wouldn't put him in prime position to fight for the belt again.

"I think as far as depth, 170 has always been the best weight class," Fitch said.

The assessment sounds fair to me. Welterweight has long been a marquee moneymaking division for the UFC because of its competitive strength and dominant champions. These days, St-Pierre has no shortage of potent threats to cope with, and Fitch-Maia should do the job of producing yet another.

Franklin to fulfill his end

FranklinJosh Hedges/Getty ImagesOne and done? With one fight left on his contract, Rich Franklin might be closing in on retirement.

Nearly three weeks after Cung Le knocked him cold in Macau, Rich Franklin sounds prepared to soldier on and honor the last fight of his contract with the UFC.

Franklin met Thursday with his manager, JT Stewart. The former UFC middleweight champion expects to take a fight at 185 pounds, Stewart said, though Franklin doesn’t have an opponent in mind.

“Doesn’t matter,” Stewart said.

If indeed it’s Franklin’s last rumble -- Stewart would only commit to “we will see” -- you can understand why middleweight is the destination. Franklin, now 38, reached his peak at the weight before Anderson Silva arrived and produced many moments since turning pro in 1999.

An odd one I was glad to see in person came in January 2001 in far-flung Friant, Calif. Fighting at 220 pounds, Franklin’s sixth pro bout came against Aaron Brink and turned out to be the only no-contest of his career.

Brink, a brawler, was a couple months removed from an armbar loss to Andrei Arlovski (the Belarusian’s first fight in the Octagon). Managed by Monte Cox at the time, Franklin was unbeaten in five fights, all stoppages, and undoubtedly a talent to watch.

Competing on an "IFC: Warriors Challenge" event meant this was the first time a promoter had flown Franklin out from Ohio to fight. He really shouldn’t have shown up. (I remember Cox saying Franklin’s fever was as high as 104 a couple hours before the event, but this was a long time ago.) Anyhow, “Ace” stepped in the cage to battle for IFC’s illustrious United States light heavyweight title. Crazily, midway through the first round of a slugfest, Brink’s right leg wedged between the cage and the canvas.
I’ve never seen anything like that again.

All together now?



Promoting UFC 154 at ESPN in Bristol a couple weeks back, Dana White’s many stops included a SportsNation chat with fans.

Leo from Salt Lake wondered when we’ll see a fighters union in the UFC.

This was White’s response:

“I doubt it. The thing about fighting is, fighting is not a team sport, it's an individual sport. It's going to be tough to see a day with Silva or GSP is giving up big chunks of their money to guys who won't make two fights in the UFC. Different sports. But if it happens, it happens. I have to negotiate with somebody on the fight contracts.”

Why would creating a union require Silva or GSP or any fighter to give up a chunk of money, let alone a big one? That doesn’t make sense based on the inroads unions and associations made in other sports.

I wonder how Marvin Miller would have reacted to White’s comment. Miller transformed Major League Baseball by organizing its players into one of the country’s strongest unions. His death Tuesday spawned widespread admiration, including this tweet from 28-year-old energy broker/UFC lightweight John Cholish:

“Very sad to hear of the loss of Marvin Miller, wish #MMA and #MMAFighters had a man like him #Greatness”.

Postmortem: UFC 154 edition

November, 18, 2012
11/18/12
2:08
PM ET
Gross By Josh Gross
ESPN.com
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Five questions answered

The knee? First Adrian Peterson. Now Georges St-Pierre. Maybe it's time to stop making such a big deal about major knee injuries.
Ring rust? The welterweight champion said he felt effects of the absence, although it hardly hurt his performance. Ring rust is real, but when fighters prepare to the level St-Pierre did, it turns out not to be a significant factor.

And the real champ is? I didn't think there was much of a question here, but the UFC billed Saturday's fight between St-Pierre and Condit as a clash of champions. GSP retains "the man" status.

Your next welterweight contender? Fear the beard; Johny Hendricks didn't trifle with formalities. He simply plowed through Martin Kampmann for the early knockout.

What about the guru? Trainer Greg Jackson went off into the New Mexico desert Saturday night, which is too bad, because he would have enjoyed GSP-Condit. Both welterweights showed up to win and fight, and neither seemed off kilter without Jackson around.

Five new questions

Will the superfight get made? A major hurdle was cleared with St-Pierre's win. Now the onus is on the welterweight champion to say yes to Anderson Silva. St-Pierre will take a few weeks to announce what he wants to do, but the UFC and Anderson Silva are on record as being fine with the fight in May.

Silva, Jones or St-Pierre? Who's the best mixed martial artist on the planet? I consider it a 1, 1-A, 1-AA scenario, but it's clear the top three have separated themselves from the pack. If these superfights take place, the answer will become clear. Otherwise, let the debate rage on.

Can GSP take down Johny Hendricks? This is one you'll hear a lot over the next few months. It's a good question, but just remember that MMA isn't wrestling.

Hey referees, what's the deal? OK, this is hardly a new question or concern. Call it a reminder that referees and judges hold immense power over fighters, and Dan Miragliotta's back-of-the-head block party in the Patrick Cote-Alessio Sakara contest was shoddy work. Officials must be held accountable.

Is Canada the UFC's top market? Montreal came out to see St-Pierre to the tune of a $3.1 million gate. Not quite a sellout, but 17,149 fans in attendance at the Bell Centre isn't bad. If Canada remains in the top spot, that gap has closed in a big way with the rise of Brazil.

Five matches to make

St-Pierre vs. Silva: Well, yeah. Still needs to be said. The potential for this fight has reached critical mass. And I want to see it because I'm not in the camp that thinks GSP will be outgunned against Silva if they meet at a catchweight around 180 pounds.

St-Pierre vs. Hendricks: Part of me wants the champion to take on Hendricks next. There are more than a few entertaining possibilities for GSP at 170, and Hendricks' power, wrestling prowess and get-'em attitude all smack of the right stuff.

Condit vs. Kampmann: Sure, it's a rematch, and others to fight are out there, but their first contest in 2009 was tremendous. Before the St-Pierre loss, it stood out as Condit's lone blemish in 14 fights.

Rafael dos Anjos vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov: Nurmagomedov needs to beat Thiago Tavares first, and if he does, a fight with dos Anjos is one I want to see. Dos Anjos is extremely physical, and his athleticism is beginning to shine through when he fights. Nurmagomedov seems to possess the correct ingredients to challenge the Brazilian lightweight.

Darren Elkins vs. Chan Sung Jung: Time for a step up for Elkins, who's unbeaten in four fights at 145 pounds and looked really good Saturday against Steven Siler. Jung could be too big of a leap, as the Korean Zombie is one of UFC's biggest names in the division, and he seems set up for a title shot. But Elkins' grappling pressure is something I'd like to see against Jung.

Stock report

Georges St-Pierre: Up. Returning for the first time in more than a year and a half, the UFC champion was impressive in all facets. He took on a legit threat in his return, no tuneup here, and now the 31-year-old Canadian is lined up for the biggest payday of his career or another tough test at 170. The sky is still the limit for St-Pierre.

Carlos Condit: Steady. True, he fell short. But Condit proved he deserved to be in the cage with St-Pierre, going so far as to dare to hurt the champion in Round 3. There will be plenty of fights for Condit, and people will want to watch.

Johny Hendricks: Up. Way up. A title shot is likely next. People want to see him fight GSP, and some will think he's the guy to dethrone the champion. Either way, Hendricks' attitude continues to be great. The guy is having a great time, and he's just figuring this fighting stuff out.

Francis Carmont: Down. This was a reality check. The judges split and sided with Carmont, but he didn't look particularly dangerous against Tom Lawlor. A win is a win, but momentum behind Carmont was slowed for the time being.

Mark Hominick: Down. Four straight losses for Hominick starting with Jose Aldo last year says it all. He'll stick around the UFC despite the bad streak, but Hominick comes off as exposed and utterly beatable.

Superfight with Silva still hinges on GSP

November, 18, 2012
11/18/12
3:11
AM ET
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
ESPN.com
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MONTREAL -- Well, that clears things up. Or at least there’s a chance the events that took place at UFC 154 will lead to where we suspect they might.

Everybody knew that Georges St-Pierre was fighting more than Carlos Condit on Saturday at the Bell Centre. He was fighting -- at least in other people’s minds -- for the chance to bring a superfight between himself and Anderson Silva one step closer to reality. This was the perception, and perception, particularly in the fight game, is reality.

But even though middleweight champion Silva was cageside for the main event, with his reactions being televised as the fight unfolded, the man he was watching was never sure what hung in the balance.

And after the fight, St-Pierre still didn’t exactly know. He has heard the speculation, the clamoring, the proclamations by UFC president Dana White and all the big stadium talk -- but it’s complicated.

“It depends,” GSP told ESPN. “If [White] wants me to go fight [Silva] at heavyweight, I cannot go fight at heavyweight. I’ll fight anybody at 170 -- I don’t care. But it depends on weight class; it depends how it’s done. I want to sit down and talk about this. I don’t know how it’s done.

“Because I don’t want to do what [light heavyweight-turned-heavyweight boxer] Roy Jones did and go up in weight, then come back down and mess up my body. Maybe some people can go up and down and play with their body like this, I can’t personally do this. I cannot gain 15 pounds and then go back down, I just can’t. Physically, I could probably go to 155 easier than 185, the way I’m built. But I don’t do it because of my health.”

St-Pierre, whose face was still purple and swollen from his encounter with Condit, says he will take a vacation and think things over. Obviously, everybody knows what Dana White wants.

“GSP versus Anderson Silva is the fight I want to make,” White told ESPN after UFC 154. “I just literally talked to Anderson. He wants the fight. We’re going to give Georges some time. I’m sure Georges feels like he’s been hit by a bus after an 18-month layoff, so we’ll give him a week or so to heal up and then we’ll talk to him.”

This then becomes a very important vacation, because it will demand St-Pierre’s clear-headedness. If GSP decides to fight Silva, it will almost certainly be the centerpiece of a stadium show in Toronto, Dallas or Brazil. It will have to happen at a catchweight of somewhere in the vicinity of 178 pounds. We haven’t seen Anderson Silva so excited to fight somebody since Rich Franklin in 2006.

But St-Pierre is being asked to make the biggest compromise of moving up in weight against the game’s pound-for-pound best. He has the most to lose right when there’s a crop of fresh challenges for him at his home of 170 pounds.

There’s Johny Hendricks, who is coming off yet another first round knockout, this time of Martin Kampmann. And there’s Nick Diaz, who will be returning soon from his suspension. We know that St-Pierre welcomes a Diaz fight, too, which was supposed to take place back at UFC 137.

But White knows he’ll play a hand in persuading St-Pierre when the time comes. “That’s my job, so I’m pretty convinced I can [make it],” he said.

Does it make it inevitable? No, but it certainly makes it likely. And for all the options that St-Pierre will weigh in the coming weeks, at bottom it might come down to one thing -- he’s a fierce competitor who has a lot of pride.

“I want to push myself and see where I can go,” he said. “I want to be the best. I just finished the fight, and I got hit a lot. I need a vacation; I got hit a lot on the head. I need some vacation to consider things.”

So clarity in the aftermath of UFC 154 looks like this -- we have to wait until St-Pierre comes back from his hard-earned holiday to find out for sure just what’s going to happen next.

Notes and nuggets for UFC 154

November, 16, 2012
11/16/12
12:38
PM ET
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
ESPN.com
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TBDCourtesy of Sherdog.com
MONTREAL -- The fight game is always two steps ahead of itself. So it's only natural that most of the people assembled in Montreal to see Georges St-Pierre defend his title against Carlos Condit are focusing on more distant possibilities. Like, will St-Pierre fight Anderson Silva if he gets through Condit?

St-Pierre has coolly told anybody and everybody who's bothered to ask that he isn't thinking about Silva. When informed that Silva will be in Montreal to see him fight, surely not by any kind of coincidence, St-Pierre said he wouldn't be uncivil and ignore him. He would at least say hello. But right now he is focused on Condit. You know, Condit, the reason we're all here.

But the specter of Silva is everywhere.

Martin Kampmann's wrestling coach Kyle Griffin said at least half the questions directed at Kampmann were about St-Pierre-Silva. Never mind that Kampmann is thrice removed. Dan Hardy has been asked to break down a fight between Silva-St-Pierre, too, by ESPN U.K. and others.

If the periphery is being quizzed on the fight, imagine what the monkey wrench in the scenario must be thinking.

People forget that Condit is standing right there in the room. How does he feel being the invisible obstacle?

"It's fine, man. I'm used to being overlooked," he told ESPN.com. "You know, when I fought Nick Diaz [at UFC 143], they were talking about the Georges St-Pierre-Nick Diaz fight next. No big deal for me. I'm focused on Georges St-Pierre."

Open workouts a strange bit of theater


The UFC 154 open workouts were a little misleading Thursday. For starters, what people were doing in the cage at the New City Gas nightclub in Montreal couldn't rightly be called a workout. Closer to performance art, really.

It began with Tom Lawlor, who was wearing his standard Ambrose Burnside whiskers and a Sheraton bathrobe. He and his cornermen -- Seth Petruzelli and Kyle Holland -- did the media rounds in white robes before they were ushered to the cage. Underneath the robes? Adult diapers. Oddly clumpy but perfect for the faux sumo wrestling tournament they engaged in.

St-Pierre arrived to a nice ovation with his entourage (among them Francis Carmont, Phil Nurse and John Donaher), and they entered the cage and proceeded to, like, span time. St-Pierre signed shirts, gloves and action figures. He casually talked to Nurse. He tossed memorabilia to his fans. All this generosity was backdropped by the thumping sounds of 2 Chainz’s "No Lie." At one point, St-Pierre stretched; this was the only move toward anything athletic.

Just brawl, baby

Martin KampmannMark Kolbe/Getty ImagesDespite his ability as a technical striker, Martin Kampmann can't seem to avoid getting into brawls.
One of the things about Kampmann that makes his fight with Johny Hendricks predictable is that he likes to stand in the pocket and swing. We've seen him trade with Nate Marquardt, Paul Daley, Diego Sanchez and Jake Ellenberger.

Sometimes he gets hacked down. Sometimes he gets hacked down but gets back up. Sometimes he flattens his opponent (don't remind Alexandre Barros). You ask the Dane's cornermen if Kampmann digresses from the game plan, and they laugh. That's just him, they say, a technical striker who can't help becoming a technical brawler.

"He just loves to fight," Xtreme Couture's Griffin said.

You have to wonder, though, how it plays out against a heavy-handed wrestler like Hendricks. Kampmann was able to weather Ellenberger's first-round onslaught to come back and win. Ditto Thiago Alves in March. It's true that Kampmann has been the picture of endurance and perseverance in his run back into welterweight contention, but the reality is he had to come back because he put himself in trouble to begin with.

Bottom line: If he puts himself into a bad spot against Hendricks, there may be no coming back. Then again, if he wins dramatically, as he did in his previous fights in 2012 against Alves and Ellenberger, Kampmann has to be considered for fighter of the year.

Hendricks adds right hand to heavy arsenal

November, 16, 2012
11/16/12
6:38
AM ET
McNeil By Franklin McNeil
ESPN.com
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MONTREAL -- It’s easy to spot Johny Hendricks among the fighters who are scheduled to compete Saturday night at Bell Centre: He’s the one with the biggest smile on his face.

Hendricks has exuded nothing but happiness in the days leading into his UFC 154 welterweight title eliminator against Martin Kampmann. And it isn’t nervous energy.

Hendricks is primed for battle, mentally and physically. He points to the six months that have passed since his split-decision win over Josh Koscheck in May.

“My weight is 10 pounds over [the 170-pound limit],” Hendricks told ESPN.com on Thursday. “That’s the best I’ve been for any fight. I’m just excited.

“Fighting every four months would be perfect. But sometimes it’s good to step away. That’s what I did this last fight and I came back hungrier and stronger to fight again. I needed to step away and be a family man, spend time with the girls. It made me that more excited to fight again."


Wrestling remains Hendricks’ base discipline, but his striking skills -- punching in particular -- have gotten much attention in the past year. The focus has centered on Hendricks’ powerful left hand. But during preparation for this fight against Kampmann he expanded his striking range.

It’s a major reason Hendricks believes his striking game is on par with Kampmann’s.


“My power gives me [an edge] on the feet,” Hendricks said. “No matter what, he knows he can’t eat too many of my left hands.

“Also, my left hand now creates other shots. If he’s defending my left hand or even my hook, my hook has gotten stronger, lead uppercut has gotten stronger.

“That’s what I focused on these past several months. Everybody’s looking for this thing [left hand], but now it might be this thing [right hand] that knocks you out.”

Hendricks said he hurt a few training partners during training camp with a variety of punches. And he did the damage wearing 8-ounce boxing gloves -- while his sparring partners donned headgear. Oh, and by the way, Hendricks points out that the damage was done with his right hand.

Despite the improvements in his stand-up game, Hendricks expects his wrestling to play a major role during the fight.

“My stand-up is much better,” Hendricks said. “It might just open up my wrestling.

“It’s been six months since I last stepped in the Octagon; a lot has changed. I can’t wait.”

'Nice guys' routine has gone on long enough

November, 16, 2012
11/16/12
5:47
AM ET
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
ESPN.com
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MONTREAL -- Georges St-Pierre is fond of saying that MMA is a sport, but it’s not a game. This sentiment has been echoed in combat sports for a century. Joyce Carol Oates wrote something similar about boxing, that there’s “nothing fundamentally playful about it -- nothing that seems to belong to daylight, to pleasure.”

And that is at least a dozen times truer in a sport that began as “No holds barred.” Nice belongs to daylight.

This is one of those UFC main events where two of the nicest, most professional guys -- Carlos Condit and St-Pierre -- will turn their darker shades before 18,000 partisans. They will go from fairly bored, unimaginative day talkers to brutally cruel-intentioned nighttime artists for all those with a ticket stub or some disposable income. It’s 25 minutes of menace, unless it doesn’t last that long -- which means somebody’s menace played out better than the other.

Now this is a fight. For all the rules and regulations and sporting vibes that justify MMA in 2012, there’s still a protective layer of the Chuck Palahniuk vision at its core.

St-Pierre is home, and that’s why the decibels will be off the charts at Montreal’s Bell Centre on Saturday night, exactly the same as when the Quebec native rematched Matt Serra back in 2008. And just like that time, the waves of nervous tension and second thoughts will strike St-Pierre just before the UFC’s backstage wrangler Burt Watson yells, “Let’s roll to the hole, baby!”

Then it leaves.

“I’m going to be very nervous, and confident that I’ve done everything I could have done to be at my best,” St-Pierre told ESPN.com at the open workouts Thursday. “It will be electric [in the arena]. It will be crazy, and I’m expecting that.”

St-Pierre has by now been asked the same question, repackaged and reassembled, a million times. He even rolls his eyes and giggles at reporters who joke with him about being asked the same questions, just before answering those same questions. It’s nice to be back, but it’s painfully repetitive to talk about how nice it is being back. He will have butterflies, but “the key is to get those butterflies to fly in formation,” he says.

That’s clever.

And if anybody is a master at dishing the Cliff Notes on how grueling a prolonged period of recovery and introspection is, it’s GSP. This will be his first fight back since suffering the ACL injury that kept him out for 19 months. “My knee, I’ve tested it already ... I’m ready for the fight,” he says. “I feel like my surgery never happened.” He also says he feels rejuvenated.

And he’s aware that he’s been out long enough for an interim belt to enter circulation (though it never circulated beyond Condit). He has been reminded of this many times. But now the two at long last will collide and make the belt back into something singular.

What happens then? There are untold things lying in the balance. For Condit, it’s the real belt, not the symbol. It’s greatness. For St-Pierre, it’s Anderson Silva. It’s Nick Diaz. It’s perpetuation.

We don’t often get stakes as great as these. Saturday night will be the end of something long anticipated, and at the same time the beginning of something we have no idea how to anticipate. Does it set up a superfight? Does it refresh our memories as to why St-Pierre is one of the top pound-for-pound fighters ever? Or does Condit do the improbable, go into Montreal and beat St-Pierre, and in the process shatter up all the things we thought we knew?

“It’s going to be incredible,” Condit told ESPN.com. “Energy is energy. Whether they’re booing me or cheering me, I’m just coming to put on a good fight, to entertain the fans, and I think the people in Montreal will receive that.”

Condit is just so nice. He’s the kind of nice that makes you forget why he has a nickname like “the Natural Born Killer.”

“[That nickname is] something that I got when I was young,” he says. “It’s like a tattoo you get when you’re real young, and you get older and you don’t like it that much but you can’t get rid of it. But it fits my fighting style, and fits what I’m trying to do in the cage.”

It’s true. The difference between Carlos Condit and the “Natural Born Killer” are night and day.

Hominick in need of statement victory

November, 15, 2012
11/15/12
12:24
PM ET
McNeil By Franklin McNeil
ESPN.com
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Mark HominickAl Bello/Zuffa LLC/Getty ImagesAfter three straight defeats, Mark Hominick, left, is fighting Saturday to keep his UFC career afloat.
MONTREAL -- There is no need to mince words: Mark Hominick will fight for his mixed martial arts career Saturday night at UFC 154.

Entering his featherweight bout against Pablo Garza on a three-fight losing skid, it's possible that Hominick's days with the promotion will end should he come up short.

It would seem that being in this must-win situation, nothing else could possibly matter to Hominick, but that is not the case.

Hominick has been in pressure-cooker situations before and survived every time. There isn't the slightest doubt in his mind that he will survive Saturday night's encounter.

But at the top of Hominick's agenda is winning impressively. The former No. 1 featherweight contender is on a mission to prove he deserves inclusion among the division's elite, despite his recent slide.

"My back is against the wall. There's no question there," Hominick told ESPN.com. "But I'm motivated. I'm hungry."

This recent three-fight skid has forced Hominick to concentrate on the weaknesses in his game. There aren't many, and he isn't eager to discuss them in detail -- at least not publicly -- but he admits they exist.

Being 30 years old makes mature men take a closer look at life, especially when he is a husband (wife Ashley) and father (daughter Raeya). The couple is expecting a second child in early 2013.

To achieve his goal of again fighting for -- and winning -- the UFC featherweight championship, Hominick made adjustments during training camp.

"I'm a lot stronger," Hominick said. "Over the course of the past year, I've worked a lot on my strength. And I train a lot smarter now. That comes with being 30 and fighting as a pro for 11 years. I understand where I need to improve as [a fighter]. I used to be stubborn a lot of times, but with age comes maturity, and I have a lot of that."

Another factor contributing to Hominick's ability to make adjustments in camp is finally coming to grips with the loss of longtime friend and coach Shawn Tompkins, who died of a heart attack Aug. 14, 2011. He was 37 years old.

The loss devastated Hominick. Leading into his two most recent fights, both losses, thoughts of Tompkins flickered through Hominick's mind.

He entered each of those bouts with a heavy heart. But Hominick refuses to site Tompkins' absence as the reason he lost to Chan Sung Jung in December and Eddie Yagin in April.

Tompkins was in Hominick's corner the night he fought valiantly against featherweight titleholder Jose Aldo at UFC 129 in April 2011. Hominick lost by unanimous decision, which proved to be the beginning of his skid.

"Shawn was more than a coach in my life. He was the best man in my wedding," Hominick said. "He played a huge role in my life, in the decisions I made. We were beyond close friends; we were family. Losing a family member is never easy. There is the comfort level. Shawn was my coach for 15 years. I’d never fought a bout without him."

It took more than a year for Hominick to rebound. Though Tompkins will always live in his heart, he is finally ready to reclaim his place among the best 145-pound fighters on UFC's roster.

Jeff Curran has taken over head-coaching duties for Hominick. The two are a perfect fit. Besides, they aren't strangers.

"He worked me in the Eddie Yagin fight, and he's working me here [in Montreal]," Hominick said. "We started back in 2006 when I first signed with UFC. I'm very comfortable with him."

With the core of his Team Tompkins members still at his side, Hominick is ready to resume competing at the highest level of mixed martial arts -- and winning. Saturday's fight marks the start of a new beginning. Losing isn't an option, but winning in less-than-impressive fashion won't cut it either.

Just being on the UFC roster isn't in Hominick's plans. He isn't in the mixed martial arts business to be a mediocre player.

"My mindset now is to compete against the best guys in the world, and if I'm not doing that, then this isn't for me," Hominick said. "I'm not doing this to just be able to fight in the UFC. I want to be fighting for the belt.

"My intention is to go out there [Saturday] and put on a statement-making fight."

Gunning for KO bad idea for St. Pierre?

November, 15, 2012
11/15/12
6:19
AM ET
By Andrew R. Davis
ESPN Stats & Information Group
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UFC interim welterweight titleholder Carlos Condit has never been knocked out in 33 professional fights. UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre feels he might be the first to turn the lights out on Condit.

During his 10-year career, St. Pierre hasn't exactly shown a pedigree for being a finisher with his hands. While the Canadian fighter has eight KO/TKO victories, he has not finished a fight with punches since winning the UFC welterweight title for the first time (a stoppage of Matt Hughes at UFC 65 in 2006). In that bout, however, the punches that finished the fight were set up by a St. Pierre head kick.

It’s possible St. Pierre can get the knockout, as his power-punching output has increased in his past two fights. “Rush” landed 32 power punches to the head from striking distance in his past two victories. Before that, St. Pierre landed a meager 12 over three victories.

Stay grounded


If St. Pierre wants to make an impact and remain champion, he'll need to take the fight to the ground.


St. Pierre had two takedowns in his unanimous decision victory over Jake Shields at UFC 129, the fewest the Canadian has had since UFC 74 win against Josh Koscheck in 2007. However, Shields and Koscheck are both known for their ground games and takedown defense.

In his previous two matchups against strikers (Dan Hardy and Thiago Alves), GSP combined for 21 takedowns in 23 attempts. In his 18 UFC fights, St. Pierre has a takedown accuracy of 77.3, the highest in UFC history.


Stand up to the takedown


Condit's takedown defense will be severely tested by St. Pierre, just as it was against other wrestling-based fighters such as Jake Ellenberger and Rory MacDonald. In Condit's first three Octagon appearances, he stopped only 23.5 percent of takedowns (4 of 17). Since then, opponents are one for four in takedown attempts against Condit.

Condit is known for his striking, and in five of his six career UFC fights, the Natural Born Killer has out-struck his opponent. Condit is 4-1 in those fights, including his past four where the striking differential was plus-113 (257 to 144).

While Condit will look to batter St. Pierre on the feet, the interim champ will have his hands full in doing so. In 18 UFC fights, St. Pierre has a significant strike defense percentage of 75.6, good enough for second all-time. According to FightMetric, strike defense refers to the percentage of opponents’ attempts that do not land. Condit’s game plan in standing with St. Pierre should be to attack the legs of St. Pierre. With Rush’s excellent takedown offense, leg kicks could neutralize the Canadian’s wrestling and keep the fight standing. In his fight against Diaz, Condit landed 68 leg kicks over five rounds, setting a new UFC record. Condit landed 42 leg kicks in the first three rounds of his fight against Diaz, only seven behind the record for a three-round UFC fight.

For St. Pierre to get the victory and secure a potential superfight with Anderson Silva, he might need to worry less about knocking out Condit and more about remaining the grappler who won him the title he hasn’t lost in almost five years.

Statistical support for this post provided by FightMetric.

Five reasons Condit can upset St. Pierre

November, 14, 2012
11/14/12
1:51
PM ET
Gross By Josh Gross
ESPN.com
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Georges St. Pierre ranks among mixed martial arts' most dominant champions for several reasons. His record, both in terms of winning percentage and victories against the best available opposition, is as good as anyone's. And over his reign, which includes nine straight wins, six in defense of the UFC 170-pound title, the 31-year-old pride of Montreal has rarely been in a close fight.

This Saturday, for the first time since April 2011, St. Pierre (22-2) steps into the cage with his belt on the line. And this Saturday, for the first time since the last weekend in 2007, there's a decent chance he won't be champion anymore -- at least, that's how I see St. Pierre's contest unfolding with UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit.

I'm picking the 28-year-old Condit (28-5) to win, and feeling pretty confident about it, too.

So why does he pull off the upset?

Condit has never been better



If not for a split decision loss to Martin Kampmann in his UFC debut (one of the best fights of 2009, by the way), Condit would roll into this fight having won 14 straight over the past six years.

He's fully matured as an athlete, and is well suited for the moment. Championship fights provide their own difficulties, and while this is far and away the most important belt he could win, Condit's experience in title contests is rich and undoubtedly valuable.

Condit won't step into the cage in St. Pierre's hometown and get spooked. I can't imagine that happening, anyway. And so long as Condit is there mentally Saturday, the rest should just happen. Make no mistake about it, Condit needs the best effort of his life.

Everything I've seen from him over the years, especially the past couple, says he's come up the right way, put in his time, won titles and understands championship pressure.

Bottom line, Condit won't be shy against St. Pierre, which is fairly important because he can't afford to be.

Pressure



Not talking about the between-the-ears kind here.

Pressure (noun): the continuous physical force exerted on or against an object by something in contact with it.

Pressure (verb): attempt to persuade or coerce someone into doing something.

Condit will attempt to persuade or coerce St. Pierre into losing by continually exerting physical force on the French-Canadian champion.

Other than the curveball against Nick Diaz, Condit is a notorious pressure fighter. He moves forward, presses the action, and looks to finish -- the true goal for fighters like him. He has come through 26 times in 28 wins.

Condit, therefore, appears naturally inclined to go after it this way, and against St. Pierre's cautious tendencies, it's also the smart thing to do. The challenger needs to pressure St. Pierre into exchanging, into discomfort, into thinking and doubt. Over a 25-minute fight, this attitude would make an enormous difference for him.

All-out attack



Condit's arsenal is deep. He's not just a boxer. He can do much more than kick. He's solid off his back and will catch submissions from anywhere.

There's never a moment in a fight against Carlos Condit when his opponent can feel safe. Never a moment. His Muay Thai is more than threatening. He's technical and wild, throwing anything from standing elbows to jumping knees, all from the same stance, all in a split second.

He hurts people. This isn't a pitter-patter fighter. Condit can crack, and while I'm not suggesting St. Pierre suffers from a questionable chin, I will say that Condit can put down anyone.

If he's forced to his back, which is almost a sure thing against St. Pierre, Condit's jiu-jitsu mirrors his striking. He goes for submissions, and can boast of finishing 13 of them.

Defensive dividends



Styles make fights. St. Pierre's grappling and takedowns are so off-the-charts dominant that it's a given he’s going to assert himself. Even Condit's camp concedes this point. The question is, will the challenger force St. Pierre to work for his gains?

Condit has a bad habit of keeping his head in target range. He'll have to keep moving to throw off St. Pierre's targeting, because once the champion is locked in, he'll pick apart anyone. But other than that, his movement is good, he'll check a kick, and can counter if the mood calls for it.

Mostly I'm thinking of the times when Condit is on the floor. His long legs, eager guard, and slick (re)positioning lead me to believe that St. Pierre won’t have a lot of luck landing significant strikes.

St. Pierre is a grinder. He'll go after the same weakness until it cracks or exposes something more enticing. I don’t think he'll manage to do something similar against Condit.

Curious, Georges



The wild cards.

Is St. Pierre fully recovered from the ACL tear? (He seems to be, but if he’s a hair off, a half-step slower, less dynamic, that sets up as a huge factor.)

Is there a shred of doubt in his mind about performing at his peak? (St. Pierre admitted to mental weakness in the past, leaving open the possibility of it creeping back into the picture.)

Without Greg Jackson in his camp for planning and support, how will St. Pierre be affected on fight night? (He's a thinker, and that can betray the man. A routine that's worked so well for so long has been disrupted, that could be a big deal in the end.)

I don't know about any of these things. No one will until fight night. But let’s say none of them come to fruition, that St. Pierre is 100 percent ready to fight, prepared in every possible way. I still believe, at a minimum, that Condit will provide the best test the champion has faced in years.

'Spider' is more than a simple middleman

November, 13, 2012
11/13/12
3:51
PM ET
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
ESPN.com
Archive
Anderson Silva recently told Brazilian site Tatame that he thinks his next fight will come in late 2013.

This, of course, could be posturing. Silva is a smart businessman, and he has a way of playing with dramatics better than we give him credit for. (Remember in 2008 when he was flirting with retirement? Safe to say he didn't follow through on that.)

Then again, the 37-year-old pound-for-pound GOAT could really be taking himself out of action voluntarily, which is dramatic in itself. All those big-dollar superfight scenarios with Georges St. Pierre and/or Jon Jones have one thing in common -- they hold Silva precariously as the centerpiece. In that way, his timing is awful. In the midst of UFC president Dana White’s seeding and all the heightened expectations, here comes Silva presenting us with the one thing we’ve never cared for -- his oblivion.

What gives?

We’ll know more Saturday, when the outcome of St. Pierre’s title defense against Carlos Condit plays itself out, but one thing seems certain -- if St. Pierre beats Condit at UFC 154, Silva won’t likely run into the Octagon to throw the gauntlet down. For starters, the Portuguese-speaking Silva won’t be a big hit in French-speaking Montreal. Il n’est pas bon. Plus, it’s out of Silva’s character. He likes to shrug his shoulders and make funny faces when people come at him with direct challenges. He certainly doesn’t like unnecessary confrontation. He leaves that to the people trying to take what’s his.

Is GSP trying to get what’s his? No. At least, not publicly.

But let’s take Silva at face value here and assume he’s taking a sabbatical until late 2013. What happens if that’s the reality? Will there be yet another interim belt at large? And if so, which fight do you make for that latest bit of delusion? The Chris Weidman-Tim Boetsch fight in December, or the Vitor Belfort-Michael Bisping fight in February? Or does it become a tournament for the placeholder belt? That seems like a long way to go for a mirage.

It’s difficult to know who is fighting for what at this point, which extends to the welterweights. Middleweights Silva out of action until late 2013 might come as happy news to Johny Hendricks and Martin Kampmann, the two 170-pounders who were originally fighting for a title shot, and then just fighting to stay within earshot of a title shot. Nick Diaz, too, could be let loose on St. Pierre without so many entanglements if Silva’s out of the way. He’s due back in February.

In fact, all the top 170-pounders -- perhaps even GSP himself -- should be happy to hear that Silva is considering the time away.

Then again, if he’s really telling the truth, it also means we can (most likely) cross off a St. Pierre-Silva bout from ever happening. And maybe Jones-Silva, too. The 185-pound landscape will be different by the end of 2013. There will be definitive contenders waiting anxiously for his return. Any divisional superfights at that point would seem cruel to the weight class.

But all that aside, think about how disastrous this makes UFC 153 in retrospect. Not only was the card hindered by injuries to the point that it was nearly unrecognizable when it finally came to pass, but now we see the consequences in full. Stephan Bonnar went from company pioneer to blackguard for testing positive (again) for steroids. That’s bad. Worse, the guy who “rescued” the card in a fight nobody wanted to see, feels like that was enough, that he can be afforded this privilege based on his recent generosity.

So, in a sense, Silva's beating a semiretired fighter who was never in the top 10 of his division just replaced everything from superfights to sensible title defenses. In other words, UFC 153 could have just done away with a UFC at Cowboys Stadium.

That should drop UFC 153 just behind UFC 151 as the most calamitous cards ever assembled.

And then again, you know, Silva could be posturing. He must be, right? Just a little leveraging? We’d better hope so; because if not, the UFC in 2013 picks up right where the UFC in 2012 left off -- that is, with a series of unwanted complications.

Hendricks confident best is yet to come

November, 13, 2012
11/13/12
10:54
AM ET
McNeil By Franklin McNeil
ESPN.com
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Johny HendricksDave Mandel/Sherdog.com

When it comes to mixed martial artists, one would be hard-pressed to find a fighter more at peace before a high-profile bout than Johny Hendricks.

The former Oklahoma State University wrestling All-American isn’t one to get involved in verbal tit-for-tats with upcoming opponents. But heading into his Saturday night bout against Martin Kampmann, a UFC welterweight title eliminator, Hendricks is revealing a little hostility.

Hendricks’ hard feelings stem from Kampmann's vowing to knock him out and their days training together at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas. Hendricks says that time became a source of his confidence.

“I’ve worked hard and I’ve beaten some tough dudes to get my title shot, and right now Johny Hendricks is in my way -- and I’m going to knock his a-- out to get it,” Kampmann said in a UFC 154 promotional clip.

“Hendricks punches with a lot of power and his punches come from different angles, but his biggest strength is his wrestling. I used to train with him in Vegas. I still feel I’m a lot slicker than him. My wrestling has come a long way, so I reckon I can beat his a-- and defend the takedown.”

Hendricks doesn’t hesitate to admit that Kampmann often got the better of him in sparring when they trained together at Xtreme Couture from 2007 until 2008. But that’s when Hendricks was a very raw fighter, an infant in MMA.

Hendricks' peaceful nature dissipates when he reflects on his experience training with Kampmann.

“I trained with him for about a year and a half,” Hendricks told ESPN.com. “The thing is that about the last half of the year he didn’t want to train with me anymore. That’s why I transferred over to Striking Unlimited.

“Once I got to a point where I could somewhat compete with these guys, they didn’t want to train with me anymore. They wanted to learn from me, learn my wrestling, but once I got to where I could learn from them, to strike with them, they didn’t give back like I thought they would.

“They stopped working out with me, and that’s when I went to Striking Unlimited, which was a blessing in disguise.”

When Hendricks entered MMA, striking was a glaring hole in his game. He took his share of lumps from more seasoned strikers -- Phil Baroni once knocked him out during a sparring session.

I trained with him for about a year and a half. The thing is that about the last half of the year he didn't want to train with me anymore. That's why I transferred over to Striking Unlimited.

-- Johny Hendricks, on training in the past with Martin Kampmann

But at the new gym, Hendricks never felt anyone was out to take advantage of him. He’d dispense his wrestling knowledge while learning valuable stand-up techniques from teammates.

And Hendricks proved to be a quick learner. He absorbed everything -- from always being in the proper stance, to moving his head side to side and keeping his hands high, to accurately moving his feet.

These days Hendricks is as dangerous a fighter standing as he is wrestling. His ability to sit on his punches has made him one of the most feared strikers in the 170-pound division.

“When I started in MMA, I knew that I had to get people scared of me, scared of my hands,” Hendricks said. “I really needed to work on my stand-up; that way, people would start really fearing my hands. That would make the takedowns much easier.

“Now my stand-up has gotten to the point where I can choose which way I want to go -- standing or taking a fight to the ground. That’s a huge confidence builder.”

Hendricks will take a ton of confidence into his fight with Kampmann. And like his opponent, a large chunk of that confidence can be attributed to their days at Xtreme Couture.
[+] EnlargeHendricks/Funch
Ed Mulholland for ESPN.comWell-grounded: Johny Hendricks has taken strides to develop his grappling game.

Kampmann is a solid fighter, and Hendricks is aware of it. He has experienced Kampmann’s skills firsthand. But it’s that experience with Kampmann in the gym -- while observing his progress over the past few years -- that has Hendricks salivating when thoughts of their fight at Bell Centre in Montreal enter his mind.

“Kampmann’s at his peak,” Hendricks said. “When we trained together, he already knew everything about striking; he was already in the UFC fighting at 185. He’s added a few things, but not much. Once you hit your peak, it’s hard to add new stuff. But he is durable and he is tough.

“I was there with him when he started cutting down to 170; I’ve known this guy for a while. For him to sit there and say that I haven’t developed is just nonsense. I’m not the fighter I was two years ago or a year ago; I’m so much more advanced.”

Hendricks wants it known that his growth as a mixed martial artist isn’t limited to wrestling and striking. He is very confident in his submission game and would be overjoyed if he gets to show it off Saturday night, if the opportunity presents itself.

“I go to New York City and train with [Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt] Marcelo Garcia after every fight, and sometimes during training camp,” Hendricks said. “My jiu-jitsu is actually better than my stand-up. It’s just that so far I haven’t had the opportunity to show it.

“I want to show more of my [grappling] game, so that people know that I’m more than just a wrestler. I have a strong ground game and feel more comfortable with it. I’m improving constantly. I’m constantly learning all aspects. I haven’t hit my peak yet.”

Maguire called for Riddle fight at UFC 154

November, 4, 2012
11/04/12
1:35
PM ET
By Ben Blackmore
ESPN.com
Archive
John Maguire has shed interesting insight into his hastily arranged welterweight bout with Matt Riddle at UFC 154, revealing he called the UFC to ask for the fight. More »

Superfight possibility is discounting Condit

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
5:50
AM ET
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
ESPN.com
Archive
ConditRod Mar for ESPN.comDon't book your ticket to Dallas so long as Carlos Condit still has a say in things.
Talks of a superfight are revving up because of something Dana White said. But get this -- this "something" he said came in a conversation where he also swore off speaking about things prematurely.

As far as paradoxes go, this one went from zero-to-60 in under 30 minutes.

In an interview with "UFC Tonight," White alluded to the idea that Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva could be headed for the 100,000-seat Cowboys Stadium. These are long-standing, seemingly invulnerable champions finally converging on one another. This is a stadium that left the hole in the roof so God could continue watching his Cowboys.

Now He might get to see the fights. Or "The Superfight," as it were. That is, if those famous Dallas stars align just right.

The hitch? Carlos Condit. Condit is scheduled to fight a freshly rehabilitated St. Pierre at UFC 154 in Montreal in November. Condit is no pushover. St. Pierre is not guaranteed to be the same St. Pierre.

Yet here we go making presumptions on one while looking right past the other. It’s fun to contemplate St. Pierre and Silva, but it’s dangerous to take for granted anything that Condit has a say in. After all, this is a guy who always brings heat. The erstwhile WEC champ is mean and direct and versatile. He ran from Nick Diaz? Condit runs toward St. Pierre. It’s why Condit exposed the interim title as nothing more than fool’s gold.

There are other factors, even if they border on clichés. Condit is familiar with St. Pierre, and knows that St. Pierre is a master at exploiting weakness. There are very few weaknesses with Condit, but where they can be found, he knows St. Pierre is zeroing in. St. Pierre knows Condit knows this. Where it stops, nobody knows.

It’s a lot of familiarity that could get obliterated with one well-timed left hand. It could also be thwarted by a series of deeper circumstances. Things like St. Pierre showing up extra rusty, or Condit showing up extra hungry. Or it could be something more unfathomable, like the possibility that Condit is better. That’s why they fight. To find stuff like that out.

Not likely? People didn’t think Frankie Edgar was better than B.J. Penn or that Junior dos Santos was better than Cain Velasquez.

All arguments get settled on fight night. Minds get changed. New invincibles enter our fantasy space.
[+] EnlargeGeorge St. Pierre
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireWho's to say come November, Georges St. Pierre returns as his old self and not an old version of himself?


But when we talk about things like a conditional superfight -- even casually, even when we’re tiptoeing around the big "ifs" so as not to jinx anything -- the fight finds a way of never happening. Particularly at Cowboys Stadium, which was built on fantastic notions. Remember the last big presumption going on with Jerry Jones’ $650 million Arlington mecca? Back in 2010, when the talk was all about the Cowboys going to the Super Bowl and playing right there in their own backyard? They sputtered. They finished 6-10.

On the show, White confessed he spoke too soon about Lyoto Machida fighting Jon Jones at UFC 152, and he checked himself for speaking prematurely. That didn’t stop him from forecasting the superfight moments later, and setting off rockets that this thing is out there looming big and turning shades of gold on the horizon.

Realistically, White was just answering a question about the possibility of a superfight that everybody knows is being talked about. Both Silva's and St. Pierre’s camps have warmed to the idea of the timing of the catchweight fight. It’s finally a real possibility, and in a hype game it’s fun to plant the seeds. People like buildups. If X gets through Y, we are looking at Z. Z has been a hot topic on message boards for years. Z is champion versus champion, where one man will emerge -- hyperbolically speaking -- as the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet.

With the crazier notion still that one of them, either Anderson Silva or Georges St. Pierre, will actually lose. That part’s the kicker.

But this whole house of cards comes crashing down if Condit turns the trick of beating St. Pierre first. Condit is not amused by our indulgent fun. And, ultimately, he’s got a bigger say in a superfight going down than any of us.
UFC president Dana White just may have guaranteed Georges St. Pierre a few extra fans at UFC 154 after revealing victory will likely lead to a showdown with Anderson Silva. More »

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