Despite a loss that some would describe as crushing, a smile is easy to find for Carlos Condit in the aftermath of UFC 195.
Last Saturday night in Las Vegas, “The Natural Born Killer” and champion Robbie Lawler stepped into the Octagon to battle for the welterweight strap, and the end result was truly a fight for the ages. For 25 intense minutes, the hard-charging challenger went toe-to-toe with the heavy-handed and resilient titleholder in an instant classic which saw the wills and physical abilities of both men pushed to their brinks.
It was a seesaw affair that went to the wire in a fifth and final round shootout that has been described as being the best round in the history of mixed martial arts. When the final horn sounded, the MMA world knew something special had just occurred. And after catching his wind, Condit walked back to his corner knowing the fight was close, but he was confident he’d done enough to take the victory.
Two of the three judges disagreed with such an assessment, yet while the fight community roared in protest across social media platforms, Condit remained calm. And he is still in that state of mind nearly a week after the final scorecards were read.
“I’m doing great,” Condit said. “I think I won the fight, but getting the belt wasn’t my primary goal that night. Don’t get me wrong, the fight was close and becoming the champion would have meant something to me, but I had some very specific things I wanted to accomplish in that fight. I wanted to go out there with another savage and put on the type of fight that people will never forget and I know we did that. I wanted to go out there and fight my ass off and leave every shred of what I had inside of that cage and I know I did that as well.
“Both Robbie and I gave everything we had and we pushed each other to the edge and, for me, there is self-discovery in that. I’ve always loved fighting, but I’ve used it as a way to find out more about myself. Pushing yourself to a level you didn’t know you were capable of is something remarkable and I did that last Saturday night. Hearing people call it one of the best fights in MMA history and the best fight in welterweight history tells me that I accomplished what I set out to do. Those are the things that cement your legacy in this sport and what stands the test of time.”
Hours after the fight had ended, the MMA world was still buzzing full throttle about what transpired in the main event at UFC 195. As debates raged online, the one thing everyone seemed to agree on was that the scrap between Condit and Lawler was of a rare variety.
More from UFC 195: Miss the fights? Order the UFC 195 replay | UFC 195 Talking Points | Dana White’s UFC 195 verdict | Final results | Post-fight bonus recap | Lawler defends title | Miocic wins quickly, Tumenov and Ortega take longer in main card | ’Mayday’ triumphant in return | Poirier, Tanaka go distance for wins | Watch Backstage interviews: Robbie Lawler, Carlos Condit: ‘I might be done’, Stipe Miocic, Albert Tumenov, Brian Ortega, Abel Trujillo, Michael McDonald | Watch Octagon interviews: Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit, Stipe Miocic, Dustin Poirier | Watch: Post-fight press conference highlights | Picture perfect: Best snaps from UFC 195
Nevertheless, shortly after the bout concluded, another element of dialogue entered the mix as Condit revealed his showing in the main event could very well be his last inside the Octagon.
At just 31 years of age, the revelation sent a shockwave across the MMA landscape, but strangely enough, it seemed to be an almost fitting end to a great career. The former WEC and UFC interim welterweight champion had marched to the beat of his own drum every step of his journey through MMA, and making his exit as the man many believed to be the uncrowned champion could possibly be just the right shade of outlaw for the New Mexico native.
“I’ve been thinking about my future for a long time,” Condit said. “Fighting has been my passion for a very long time – and I still love it – but my mind never stops and I’ve thought about my next career and my career after that. There is so much I want to do, so many possibilities that excite me, and there is a possibility it’s time to move on to the next chapter. Fighting is a tough sport where happy endings are few and far between, and I definitely want to leave the game before the game leaves me.”
Condit goes on to discuss the appeal of an immediate rematch with Lawler. Outside of that, he is still waiting to see where the road leads him.
“Fighting is such a big part of who I am and the chance to get back in there with Robbie again is something I could get excited about, but if it’s time to explore a new path, then I’ll go into it with the same passion. It’s always been about the journey for me and I guess we’ll have to wait and see how things play out.”
No matter how things shake out, there is little reason to doubt Condit will go into the future looking for more than what rests on the surface. In a sport where fighters are often judged at face value or by the throwaway headlines they generate that cycle in and out on a three-hour turn, the contrast between Condit’s intense fighting style and his laid back presentation demand a closer look.
He’s a man who once said he “revels in his duality” and the idea he could fire up for another go after the wild throwdown with Lawler in their first meeting or shift gears into another phase of his life in or out of the Octagon should come as no grand surprise. Condit has fashioned himself in a particular manner, and there are few of his kind to be found on the toughest proving ground in all of sports.
One thing is for certain though – the reality that Condit will give everything he has to reach where he wants to be. That’s the only way he knows how to operate, and that approach is how legends are created.