After an absolutely brutal heavyweight fight between Fabricio Werdum and Roy Nelson that saw Werdum winning by unanimous decision, 30-27, it was finally time for the UFC 143 main event in Las Vegas.
Stockton's own Nick Diaz faced off against Carlos Condit in a five-round main event fight for the interim Welterweight Championship. Definite big fight atmosphere right off the bat as Diaz came out with his game face on and then some. Georges St. Pierre was in attendance and was shown in the crowd.
The first round was very evenly matched and a sort of stand-and-bang feeling-out round. Condit seemed focused on hitting leg kicks and attempted several spinning strikes, none of which landed. Diaz landed several leg kicks of his own and a couple of big body blows. While Condit seemed intensely focused and working at keeping his defense up, Diaz -- as usual -- talked trash, let his hands hang down at his sides and tried to get Condit to force the issue. In the first round at least, Condit didn't bite.
The trash-talking kept up in the opening minutes of the second round, as Diaz dared Condit to hit him and slapped Condit in the face to try to get him to press. Condit still didn't bite, keeping his distance. Diaz again landed a couple of nice combinations and body shots, but Condit responded in kind. Diaz tried to tie up Condit against the cage in the final 0:30 of the round but Condit didn't want any part of it and got away quickly. Another extremely close round, although Diaz seemed much more comfortable in the cage, working slowly, methodically and with an uncanny sense of ease.
Round 3 was more of the same, with the fighters working their stand-up game and the fight ranging all over the confines of the cage. Diaz kept backing Condit against the cage with combinations, but Condit never stopped moving and never stayed in danger for long, always managing to land a strike or two of his own. In the second half of this round, the pace picked up considerably, with both fighters scoring heaps of big strikes, notably a big left hand to Condit's jaw as part of a combination. Due to continued leg kicks, this was the first round that could have been argued as being definitively in favor of Condit.
The fourth round was more of the same, as the same tactics were employed by both fighters. Diaz tried for a couple of single-leg takedowns but was unable to make anything of either attempt. Condit looked to land much more strikes in this round than did Diaz. Heading into the fifth round, it seemed that Diaz would have to finish or put together a big round to avoid losing by decision.
In Round 5, Nick tried for a barrage of kicks but few connected. Condit looked to again control the pace through much of the round, but in the final minute, Diaz scored the first takedown of the fight and took Condit's back. Diaz sunk in a deep body triangle but was unable to cinch in a choke or arm submission and Condit escaped during a transition by Diaz as time expired.
The fight went to the judges at that point. The judges scored the contest 48-47, 49-46 and 49-46 to give Condit the unanimous win by decision and the interim Welterweight Championship.
It was an extremely close fight and there was the sense that if Condit had not been able to evade Diaz so consistently, it would have been a much, much different result.
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