In the upper ranks of the welterweight division, Carlos Condit is a different type of animal.
The former interim champion's fluid, rangy striking style is a unique look in a realm dominated by wrestle-heavy power punchers. That said, "The Natural Born Killer" has absolutely lived up to his nickname over the past seven years as he's built one of the highest finishing rates for a fighter competing in the 170-pound weight class.
In basic terms: The Albuquerque, N.M. native doesn't step into the cage to win on style points or the judges' scorecards; he's coming in there to get the job done in whatever fashion is available. Since he started competing under the Zuffa banner with the WEC in 2007, then later transitioning to the UFC once the "little blue cage" closed up shop for good, Condit has found victory in 11 of his 14 showings and put away his opponent on nine occasions.
That level of success earned him the WEC welterweight title in addition to the UFC welterweight division's interim title when defeated Nick Diaz via unanimous decision at UFC 143 in February 2012. While the Jackson/Winkeljon MMA-trained fighter has blazed an impressive path through the divisional rankings at 170 pounds, it is not a journey that has come free of obstacles.
The 29-year-old dropped back-to-back decision losses long-reigning champion Georges St-Pierre and title challenger Johny Hendricks, respectively, which threatened to push him to the back of the line in the hunt for the welterweight crown.
With the pressure on, Condit stepped up to the plate in a big way in his next outing by knocking out fellow contender Martin Kampmann in their rematch at Fight Night 27 last August.
Not only did his victory over "The Hitman" serve as payback for a loss he suffered to the Danish fighter in his UFC debut back in 2009, but it put the brakes on an uncharacteristic skid and kept him in position to be a major player in the title picture in the welterweight division. And that is precisely where he's looking to be in 2014.
While he was originally slated to end his 2013 campaign by throwing down with a surging Matt Brown at UFC on Fox 9, an injury suffered by "The Immortal" put a wrench in those works. The UFC decided to pull the former title challenger from the card entirely and wait for the right opponent to emerge to fit Condit's placement in the division.
The promotion ended up tapping former Strikeforce title contender Tyron Woodley for his next task, and there will be plenty on the line when the two men square off next month at UFC 171 in Dallas.
Their bout will serve as the co-main event on a card where the heavy-handed Hendricks will slug it out with American Top Team powerhouse Robbie Lawler to determine who will lay claim to the title left open when "GSP" stepped away from the sport at the end of last year.
In facing the former Missouri University wrestling standout, Condit will once again encounter a familiar style inside the cage. Where Woodley has an ever-evolving skill set, thus far in his career he's used his wrestling as a base to launch the power he possesses in his hands. While Condit has experience facing opponents who have relied on similar tools, he's not discounting the man he will face on March 15.
"Woodley is a great wrestler," Condit told Bleacher Report. "He’s a very accomplished amateur wrestler and he’s transitioning into a great mixed martial artist. He has a lot of depth with his wrestling skills. He’s very good at a few things, but he’s still fairly green to this sport. Those things he does well are still extremely dangerous."
The stakes will be high for Condit at UFC 171, and he recognizes the opportunity quickly appearing in his path. A win over Woodley will in all likelihood produce another shot at the welterweight crown, which is the ultimate goal where Condit is concerned.
He's determined to get his hands back on UFC gold and is prepared to go through the challenge that will be standing in his way.
“Obviously first thing is first and I have to take care of this business with Woodley," Condit said. "But I’m absolutely trying to get another title shot. I’m trying to get the belt around my waist. The opportunities are short-lived sometimes and Woodley is standing between me and getting the title back. He’s standing between me and some of those big-money fights. He’s standing between me and some of my goals and dreams."
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.