Nine months is a very, very long time, and it has been about that long since Carlos Condit beat Nick Diaz to become the UFC's interim welterweight champion.
Nine months ago, you probably had no idea who Gotye was, never even mind being completely tired of his so-popular-that-everyone-hates-it “Somebody That I Used to Know”. Nine months ago, Newt Gingrich was making a strong run for the Republican presidential nomination. Nine months ago, Peyton Manning was still an Indianapolis Colt.
The MMA landscape has similarly changed in the time since Carlos Condit first had a belt strapped around him by UFC President Dana White back at UFC 143. Frankie Edgar, at the time, was still the lightweight champion. Alistair Overeem was fast-tracked to a title bout after beating Brock Lesnar a month earlier. The welterweight division looked totally different than how it does now.
When news originally broke that Carlos Condit (more or less) was planning to wait out most of 2012 in anticipation of a fight with Georges St-Pierre, there was some unrest. People put forward the poorly-thought-out idea that Georges St-Pierre should be stripped of his belt so Condit could instantly begin taking on challengers (which was silly for a variety of reasons). Others supported him and were excited by the prospect of a Condit vs. GSP title unification match.
Once again, though. This was all in February. Nine months ago. Nine months is a very long time.
Time passed as it usually does and, outside a short-lived plan for a rematch with Nick Diaz, Condit stuck to his guns and waited for GSP. Now, at long last, the long-anticipated bout is finally near. With that in mind, the question must be asked...
Was all this worth it?
The answer, no matter which way you cut it, is yes...assuming, of course, the fight actually happens.
Carlos Condit is by far the biggest beneficiary of how this has gone down. He is set to headline a UFC 154 card with GSP that will almost certainly pack more than 20,000 fans into Montreal's Bell Centre and draw 700,000 buys. Naturally, if he beats St-Pierre to become the undisputed welterweight champion, he instantly becomes a top draw for the UFC.
Georges St-Pierre is in a slightly less-comfortable position, but still a strong one. Winning in convincing fashion is the norm for GSP, who has not lost a fight since being upset by Matt Serra in 2007. The combination of his opponent's pure skill, the knee injury and the 18 months between fights, however, has made this fight no gimme for him. Win or lose, however, there is nothing but good things in line for GSP.
If he wins, there is a compelling top contender matchup in the UFC 154 co-main event between Martin Kampmann and Johnny Hendricks. If he loses, he is instantly lined up for a huge, exciting grudge match with Nick Diaz in February or March. There is also the exciting superfight potential with Anderson Silva.
Financially, for both Condit and GSP, there is simply no denying that this is by far the highest-yield bout possible in the welterweight division (save, of course, a GSP vs. Diaz championship bout). Whether it is Jake Ellenberger, Johnny Hendricks, Josh Koscheck or Martin Kampmann, the excitement (and therefore, revenue potential) simply would not be as high for any other fight.
The one caveat is, of course, what if one of them gets injured?
Well, then the entire tone of this article changes. GSP could have a setback with his knee and the response would instantly become “stupid Condit! He should have seen this coming!” On the flip side, if Condit gets injured, it is entirely possible we could see either Hendricks or Kampmann bumped up to fight GSP in the main event and this entire endeavor ends up being a long, long wait for Condit with absolutely no payoff.
Still, barring another all-too-possible injury debacle, this should work out to be one of the best career moves by a fighter in a long time. Watch out for Condit vs. GSP this November. Cross your fingers nobody gets hurt until that point. It's been nine months in the making.
That's a very long time.
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