MMA Power Rankings -- Welterweight

Updated: February 1, 2012, 2:28 PM ET
By ESPN.com staff | ESPN.com
Wednesday, Feb. 1
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There's so much at stake with UFC 143's main event between Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz which doesn't involve placeholder gold. Neither guy is overly concerned with being the quick fix champion, but both are heavily vested in what that distinction means -- a date with the actual welterweight champion, Georges St. Pierre.

It looks like St. Pierre is ahead of schedule with his ACL rehab, and could be ready to fight again by summer. That timetable would coincide with a showdown between the winner of Condit/Diaz, which probably should have been labeled a title eliminator instead of an interim title fight. In other words, nobody could have predicted St. Pierre would heal as fast as he appears to be healing. St. Pierre defies odds both in and out of the cage.

But there's also something else in play that extends to both Condit and Diaz, and that's legacy. Diaz is the long-embattled former Strikeforce champion who, among other things, has gotten under St. Pierre's skin. Condit is a no-nonsense warrior, a scrapper who defended the WEC 170-pound belt three times before the merger went down with the UFC. Neither champion lost their belts; they just quietly tucked them away in their past. Now both are set to try and conquer the king of the hill in a weight class that they ruled elsewhere. For all the contrasts in their personalities, Condit and Diaz have had very similar trajectories, and an even more common goal -- to become recognized as the best 170-pounder in the world.

This should be a technical battle that finds its way past game plans and into an out-and-out war. In other words, fireworks.