The headline match of tonight’s UFC 143 festivities will be a welterweight showdown between Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz. At stake is the interim belt for the championship vacated by injured Georges St. Pierre, not to mention a shot at the Quebecois star once his knee is finally healed.
The match is likely to be an exceptionally close contest, and not just because the opponents bring very similar records to the table (Diaz is 26-7, Condit 27-5) and come in on extended winning streaks. These combatants are versatile fighters with few weaknesses in their games.
Diaz’s striking favors straight-up boxing (albeit with a southpaw twist), whereas Condit is more of a kickboxer, but both can hold their own if the fight doesn’t make it to the mat. On the ground, Diaz has earned a reputation as a submission specialist, but Condit’s jiu-jitsu skills are a match for that challenge.
The biggest difference between the two men is that Condit has specialized in knockouts while Diaz is more likely to wear an opponent down. That strategy suits Diaz because his conditioning is extraordinary even by MMA standards—the Californian is also a triathlete.
Diaz’s endurance also extends to his ability to take a punch. Condit is still more than capable of knocking out any opponent, but Diaz will make it much tougher for him than most, even if Condit can get a few good shots in.
With that distinction in mind, Diaz—an aggressive fighter under any circumstances—is likely to force a particularly fast pace in this match. The more shots he can land in the early going, the less likely it will be that Condit will have enough left to retaliate later in the match.
Condit’s ground defense is good enough that he probably won’t be submitted here, so look for the fight to go the distance and end with Diaz taking the belt by unanimous decision.