Nobody in the world thought going into Saturday night that, skill for skill, Carlos Condit was better than Georges St-Pierre.
His potential success hinged on things like scrappiness and willingness to make it ugly, or on the fact that St-Pierre was out for a year and a half and might very well have been returning on one good leg.
But you know what? Thanks to one crafty strike and some narrow misses in the follow-up exchange that could have gone either way, Carlos Condit could very well be somewhere in the world right now looking at his brand new world title.
The fact is that, in every measurable way and in some ways that can’t be measured, Condit did everything he could against St-Pierre.
He brought the fight to him.
He defended takedowns as well as he could have hoped.
He drove GSP crazy with his furious, active guard.
He never once, not one time, gave any thought to going away.
Sometimes that’s not enough though, and it wasn’t for Condit at UFC 154.
He, like many, is now left to wonder what he could have done differently. The answer? Not much.
He fought a Carlos Condit fight—that is to say, he was smartly aggressive, ruthless when he had his opportunities and quirky enough in all facets to give the true champion fits. Sometimes you’re just not better than the other guy. In this case, that’s very much true.
About the only things that The Natural Born Killer could have done differently against St-Pierre would have been to target his repaired knee more intently with strikes—something that was likely avoided out of fear of the takedown—and land a few more of those shots when he had GSP hurt, something that, given Condit’s 93 percent career finishing rate, probably speaks more to St-Pierre’s defense than to Condit’s lack of killer instinct.
Again, sometimes it’s just not about you, not about what you did or didn’t do. Sometimes you’re the second-best guy in the cage that night. When the first-best is one of the greatest fighters to ever live, that’s not so bad.
And so it’s back to the drawing board for Condit. He’ll be back, particularly because he’s so young and is coming off giving GSP the best fight he’s had in years. He’s a nasty guy, someone who isn’t likely to fall out of the welterweight top five for the next five years or more, and he knows what it takes to be the champion now.
Things might very well be different the next time.