Let’s start by acknowledging that Lawler – Condit lived up to all expectations and then some. It was a wild and spectacular contest, capped off an awesome UFC event to take us into 2016 and instantly became one of my favourite fights of all time.
Having said that, the immediate calls for an instant rematch are reactionary and foolish. Here’s why:
Robbie Lawler / Carlos Condit
This was the most ‘Robbie Lawler’ Robbie Lawler fight I’ve ever seen, paralleled perhaps by the MacDonald fight at UFC 189. Even when Lawler was getting dominated in rounds 1&4, part of you just knew that he was holding something back, and holding something back he was.
Living up to his initial label as the ‘Mike Tyson of the UFC’ he went full blitzkrieg on Condit in the final round, who showed the strength of some kind of mountain lion / terminator crossbreed and refused to go down.
The consensus appeared to be (at least on my Twitter feed) that Condit had done enough in rounds 1,3 and 4 to win the fight, I also had Condit winning but, unfortunately for Carlos, two of the three judges disagreed.
Many fans / commentators are calling for an immediate rematch due to the controversial outcome and demand for a repeat of what tongue-in-cheek spectators are calling the ‘fight of the year’. While I have some patience for this case and would never suggest that Condit doesn’t deserve to get something for his efforts, in regards to an immediate rematch I wholeheartedly disagree.
Perhaps this would fly in, say, the Flyweight division; in which Demetrius Johnson is lacking serious challengers to his long-held throne. But in the arguably the most competitive of all divisions, with at least five challengers who would provide a great contest for the belt, it doesn’t make sense from a business perspective and neither would it be justice for the fighters that have rightly earned their shot.
After last night it seems pretty clear to me that whichever elite fighter Lawler the UFC puts in front of Lawler will make a thrilling fight. His brutal KO power and near inhuman resilience more than made up for his technical disadvantages in the striking department against both MacDonald and Condit. Furthermore, with the utmost respect, both Woodley and Hendricks had probably done more to deserve the shot ahead of Condit before this fight. Compile this with the up-and-comers like ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, Neil Magny and Kelvin Gastelum and waiting a probably six months to book this fight doesn’t really make sense to me.
The judging decision sucks for Condit. While admittedly contentious, very few would have complained had he got the decision. That being said, it was no Ross Pearson – Diego Sanchez. Both men seemed ready to die in the cage for the Championship, pride and our entertainment. There were no losers in this event. Condit took his loss with admirable reticence and class and personally I feel many of his fans should follow his lead.
Since the fight was called, analysts and statisticians have hotly debated the definition of ‘effective striking’. This is part of the sport, and debating judging decisions is one of the factors that makes it so enjoyable to watch. Having no proverbial ‘dog’ in this fight, being proved wrong in a decision victory for Lawler was just another twist in adrenaline pumped roller coaster that was this entire event. It gave one last ‘bloody hell!’ moment in even after I thought I was bloody well maxed out of excitement.
It has set an impossibly high precedent for 2016 and for that we are indebted to Carlos Condit. The only real shame for fight fans will be if he decides to retire, a possibility he announced post-fight. If he truly feels this way, a rematch in some ways makes less sense. If he is considering his future at this point, the many wars that would follow his potential championship winning fight would not be conducive to a successful post fighting career. While the fairy-tale ending of achieving everything in the sport before retirement may well be out of his reach, he will have at least had the best possible exit from the sport.