Today it was announced that Josh Koscheck and Carlos Condit will officially be facing off at UFC 143 on Super Bowl weekend, making you really wish that the UFC at least sent Condit and his family a fruit basket or some fancy gift cards. It’s not that Condit can’t defeat Koscheck – because he certainly can – it’s just that the 27-year-old has repeatedly gotten the short end of the stick.
The supremely talented Albuquerque resident was scheduled to face former UFC lightweight and welterweight champ BJ Penn in the co-main event of UFC 137 last month in a high-stakes fight with title contention implications. The two were buttressing a main event between UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre and salty challenger Nick Diaz, but that fight was cancelled when Diaz flaked on his media obligations and drew the ire of UFC president Dana White. Condit was then called up to face St-Pierre, while Diaz was pitted against Penn. Having kept his head down and worked tirelessly for this opportunity, Condit was ecstatic, ready for his time at the top to come.
Unfortunately for The Natural Born Killer, St-Pierre injured his leg the week before the fight and their main event was postponed, penciled in for Super Bowl weekend. Even before Diaz battered Penn to a unanimous decision and angrily called out the champion, Condit’s title shot already seemed somehow fleeting. Diaz’s post-fight disrespect toward GSP was enough to warrant an uncharacteristically aggressive reaction from the French-Canadian welterweight kingpin: he wanted to beat Diaz so badly that he asked for Dana White to put him back in as the number one contender.
The line from the UFC boss was that Condit had “stepped aside” for Diaz (with the help of monetary compensation, no doubt), though Condit’s manager made it seem much more like they were left without an option. Condit kept his spot on the Super Bowl weekend card, but it looked like things just might get worse for him as rumors spread that he would take on Jake Ellenberger at the event. Condit and Ellenberger faced off early in their respective UFC careers and Condit eked out a very narrow split decision over the now surging Ellenberger; the fight would be a risky one for Condit to take, as it very clearly put his status as next in line in jeopardy.
However, it still seems like the better choice than Condit-Koscheck. In Koscheck, Condit faces a highly-ranked, seasoned welterweight with a potent wrestling game that could very well give him fits. Condit’s at risk either way, but, as it is often said, he wants to get to the top and to do so, he’ll have to fight and beat guys like Koscheck and Ellenberger anyway. Against Ellenberger, there would at least be a clear-cut contender produced from the match to set up for the winner of GSP vs. Diaz; Koscheck has already faced GSP twice, losing both times, and recently fought him for the title, making him an unlikely contender for the belt anytime in the near future, regardless of who’s at the top.
Condit is a tough and talented enough fighter to get past Koscheck and stay in the front of the line of contenders, but it’s hard not to feel like he’s being punished. At the end of the day, business is business and GSP vs. Diaz is the fight the fans want most, you just hope it doesn’t stall or stop what was a steady climb to the top for Condit.