MMA fans are anticipating one of the best fights of the year to take place, when former WEC champion Carlos Condit takes on former Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz for the interim UFC welterweight championship, later tonight at UFC 143.
The pay-per-view event is headlined by the title fight, which will crown a new champion in the division for the first time since Matt Serra defeated St-Pierre, almost five years ago.
Condit (27-5) will enter the fight on a four-fight win streak, with wins over Dong Hyun Kim, Dan Hardy, Rory MacDonald and Jake Ellenberger. His wins over Kim and Hardy came in the very first round via knockout.
Diaz comes in with a very similar record at 26-7, including an 11-fight win streak with victories over BJ Penn, Paul Daley, Evangelista Santos and KJ Noons.
With a similar skill set in every area of mixed martial arts, this one might come down to what the judges like more if it goes the distance, which is the most likely outcome, considering both competitors' toughness and durability.
Both fighters have five rounds to try to finish the other, but neither guy is easy to finish, and it might come to who has more in the tank late. Even though this fight would have have been scheduled for five rounds anyway, it's going to be the championship rounds that are most likely to determine the winner.
Standing, it can be broken down to boxer vs. kickboxer.
Diaz, a volume puncher, relies on flurries of punches to break down his opponent throughout the course of the fight. He can utilize body punches not only to hurt his opponent, but also to set up the head shots, something that was very effective in his fight with Penn.
For Condit, he possesses better power and can finish his opponent with a single strike, whether it comes from a punch or a knee. His length is also a factor in most of his bouts, but he won't hold that advantage here against Diaz, who is only an inch shorter.
It wasn't too long ago that we saw Nick's brother, Nate, use a very similar style of boxing to get the better of Donald Cerrone, who many thought would have the advantage, due to his kickboxing skills and more well-rounded skills on the feet.
To make sure he doesn't get caught in the same trap, Condit will have to make the shots he lands count. It's unlikely he will be able to meet Diaz punch-for-punch and still have anything left late in the fight. Diaz never seems to slow down, even if his opponent is landing effective blows at the same time.
If this fight hits the mat, Diaz will hold an advantage in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but Condit may be just as good as a grappler when it comes to the wrestling, and is excellent at scrambling back to his feet. Neither fighter is afraid to be on their back, but it's better not to be in the judges' eyes, even if one is working for submissions from the bottom.
It won't be easy, but Condit matches Diaz in toughness, and will have an advantage by just being a more well-rounded striker. As long as he doesn't get caught up in the exchanges of Diaz, he can pick his shots, and hope the judges favor his blows over Diaz's. A doctor stoppage isn't out of the picture either, if he can open Diaz up with a significant strike. This is hardly a guarantee, though, and isn't something he should be looking for.