The UFC officially announced that two of the sport’s top welterweight contenders will vie for the interim 170-pound title. Nick Diaz, a fiery and unpredictable southpaw riding an 11-fight win streak, will battle the division’s most fearsome knockout artist, Carlos Condit, when the UFC returns to the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Saturday, Feb. 4.
“With GSP out for 10 months, we are going to have Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit fight to crown an interim welterweight champion,” UFC President Dana White said. “I’ve had my differences with Nick, but he is a fighter through and through. The one thing I can guarantee is that come fight night, he is going to throw down. We all saw that in his last performance against BJ Penn. Carlos Condit is no different. He’s knocked out his last three opponents and believes he is the best fighter in the division. I get goose bumps just thinking about this fight!”
During his reign as STRIKEFORCE welterweight champion, Nick Diaz defeated archrival KJ Noons and finished both Evangelista Santos and Paul Daley en route to becoming the organization’s best 170-pound fighter. Returning to the UFC with his destruction of Penn last October, Diaz – whose brother Nate is also a UFC competitor – looks to knock off Condit and secure his first UFC world title.
Nicknamed “The Natural Born Killer,” Carlos Condit is a 27-year-old former WEC champion with four straight wins, three of which came by way of knockout. A pupil of renowned trainer Greg Jackson, Condit (27-5) now has the chance to fulfill a lifelong goal of winning the UFC welterweight title. He’s also motivated by the chance to fight one of the sport’s top pound-for-pound best.
Additional fights scheduled for this event include: welterweight bad boy Josh Koscheck vs. powerful wrestler Mike Pierce, as well as a pivotal featherweight bout pitting Erik “New Breed” Koch vs. Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier.
An elite competitor who has fought some of the division’s toughest names, Josh Koscheck is fresh off a knockout victory over UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes in September. A member of the renowned American Kickboxing Academy and a former NCAA Division I national champion wrestler, “Kos” now turns his attention to ending the rise of Mike Pierce (fighting out of Vancouver, Wash.). Having won four of his last five fights, Pierce (13-4) is a hard-charging wrestler known for his ferocious ground and pound. He looks for the biggest win of his career when he meets Koscheck (18-5) on February 4.
A pupil of renowned striking coach Duke Roufus, Erik Koch has made an immediate impact since joining the UFC earlier this year, knocking out Raphael Assuncao in March and besting The Ultimate Fighter season 12 winner Jonathan Brookins in September. To earn a crack at the featherweight title, the 23-year-old Koch (13-1) must defeat another surging prospect in 22-year-old Dustin Poirier.
With a perfect 3-0 mark since dropping to featherweight at the start of 2011, the gritty Poirier (11-1) has impressed many thanks to decision victories over Josh Grispi and Jason Young, as well as a dynamic submission win over Pablo Garza in November at UFC on FOX. Eyeing his own shot at the 145-pound crown, Poirier is gearing up for what should be an incredible bout with Koch at Mandalay Bay.
Tickets for UFC 143: Diaz vs. Condit go on sale today at all Las Vegas Ticketmaster locations (select Smith’s Food and Drug Centers and Ritmo Latino). Tickets also are available for purchase at www.mandalaybay.com or www.ticketmaster.com.