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it’s a dream come true. I started watching the UFC since I was nine and now I’m on these big cards and making a name for myself with the UFC brand, and they know who I am and they love to see me fight. And it’s a fight that Chuck (Liddell) is headlining. So it’s all just awesome.”
It is 1993. The big dream machine, that is Hollywood, has moved its huge production to a tiny, one-story town outside Albuquerque, New Mexico to shoot a gory scene for an upcoming Oliver Stone film. The producers set the action inside a pharmacy where the two villains are in desperate search for some anti-venom to a deadly snake bite. Outside the drug store, yellow tape surrounds the area to keep the looky-loos at bay.
Inside the store, a gun-toting and bloodthirsty Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis are ripping the store apart and they gun a man down. It is the first of many murders for Mickey and Mallory, to whom an on-looking tabloid nation comes to call the Natural Born Killers - and it just so happens to go down in New Mexico.
Outside the tape is a nosey 10-year-old boy who lives down the block and wants to see what the fuss is all about. The drama, the blood, the suspense, the cheers and all the scattered left behind. He is young Carlos Condit. He eventually sees the movie and, on the spot, decides the film’s title has a nice-enough ring to it that it might look good on the back of his robe one day when he reaches his dream to be a professional MMA fighter.
Cut to the current day, still in Albuquerque New Mexico - but now a father to a two-month-old baby boy - Condit is the former (and last) WEC welterweight champion and a UFC welterweight-to-watch as he squares off against Rory “The Water Boy” MacDonald this week in Vancouver at UFC 115.
“I swear I remember that day like it was yesterday,” Condit tells me. “They were shooting at a pharmacy called the Drug Zone which was right next to where I used to go for my after-school program. Now it’s a Hobby Lobby, sort of like an arts & crafts store. A lot has changed.”
What hasn’t changed is Condit’s desire to always fight for a living. Sure there were stints as a bar bouncer and water-park lifeguard and such, but the fight game was always on his mind since he started training at nine-years-old.
“I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some sort of a different feeling in my body when I train now,” Condit says. “I can still take punishment, I can still dole out punishment and I still have no quit in me, but - let’s face it - this is the main stage now. This is the Octagon, man.”
Not to mention that Condit’s fight with the upstart (10-0) MacDonald - who was born a few miles from Vancouver - will be the first on the PPV card. And it’s not just any card. UFC 115 happens to be the fastest-selling fight in the history of the organization.
“Yeah, it’s a dream come true. I started watching the UFC since I was nine and now I’m on these big cards and making a name for myself with the UFC brand, and they know who I am and they love to see me fight. And it’s a fight that Chuck (Liddell) is headlining. So it’s all just awesome.”
Interestingly enough, Condit - whose father, Brian, is the Chief of Staff to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson - isn’t at all fazed about fighting in front of MacDonald’s home fans. A nation - as all UFC fans know - which seems just as rabid about the sport as we are down here in the lower 48.
“I think all the pressure is on him,” Condit calmly says. “Whenever I’ve fought in my hometown before it’s a whole lot of added stress. We’ll see how MacDonald handles it. No matter what, I’m going to get in the Octagon and perform and do what I’m best at. Geography doesn’t enter into it. But a nice knee to the jaw ought to quiet them down.”
Just for good measure, it should be added here that MacDonald - who is the youngest fighter in the UFC and counts Georges St-Pierre as his good friend and idol - has also shouted into Joe Rogan’s post-fight mic that he wants to be “the best fighter in the world.” You have to wonder if that might make the level-headed Condit a bit ticked off that the youngster is basically declaring this fight as a mere stepping stone to the heights he wants to scale in the UFC.
“No. I’m cool with that,” Condit is quick to say. “Everyone has ambitions. It’s a dog eat dog world and to make a name for yourself sometimes you gotta step on somebody’s head. Sometimes literally. But we’ll see how successful he is at that.”
Both Condit and MacDonald are known for their superiority in the submission game, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Condit has any hesitations at grappling from the get go. “I’m not going to tip my cards too much, but we’re both pretty well-rounded fighters,” Condit says. “He’s got good stand-up also. So on paper it’s a great style matchup. I feel like I have the edge on my feet. And even if it goes to the ground, I’m not afraid at all to go to the ground at all. Bring it.”
Either way, Condit might be entering this fight with a bit more to prove. He’ll have a bit of baggage, pardon the pun, once he puts down all his stuff from the carousel at the Vancouver airport. Despite dominating the WEC’s now defunct 170-pound weight class, there are always those skeptics who might say that he might not belong within the ranks of the UFC great welterweights.
“The hardcore fans will always have their opinions and the only thing I can do to change that is to go out there and keep kicking ass,” Condit says. “The little chip you see on my shoulder is for every reporter who ever asked me the question, “How would you fare in the UFC?’ So I know I have to go out there and make more noise than the other guy and land harder than the other guy, and so far I think I have. I’ve already beaten a bunch of UFC guys in my career.”
Frank Trigg anyone?
“Listen,” Condit continues, as his baby son coos in the background. “A 170-pound man is a 170-pound man. It just comes down to who hurts the other guy first and who has the least amount of quit in them.”
For MacDonald it might also come down to the age-old question posed by the most famous rap philosophers of them all, the eloquent and succinct Dr. Dre and Ice Cube: Are you iller than a Natural Born Killer?