One of the most entertaining fighters in the history of the 170-pound division, the decline of Carlos Condit has been somewhat saddening to watch, especially considering that he should’ve won the UFC Welterweight Championship but for a bad decision from the judges in his fight against Robbie Lawler.
Since that excellent showing, Condit has lost three times in succession with a long layoff in between. Getting finished by Demian Maia and Alex Oliveira is no big demerit, but the loss to gatekeeper Neil Magny was evidence that he is no longer among the elite. He now welcomes to the weight class Michael Chiesa, off two losses at lightweight and missing weight. Chiesa looks to gain some momentum at a new weight class at the expense of a legendary scrapper.
On a four-fight skid including the Lawler bout, it’s very easy to dismiss the skills of Condit, but the decline hasn’t really been as precipitous as it has seemed. Off a solid volume kicking performance against Lawler, Condit lost to Maia in a quick submission that showed a lot of his usual flaws (mostly takedown defense). Maia’s crafty single-leg was enough to get Condit on his back, and where Condit has usually shown an active guard, it wasn’t much use against a top-three all-time grappler in MMA. He returned over a year later to get outclinched by Neil Magny in an uninspired performance, and followed up in Glendale to look solid for most of the fight but also got his head snapped sideways by an upkick and got choked out by Alex Oliveira. Condit has always had issues with wrestling, primarily shown against Johny Hendricks, but the one thing that had carried him through the wars of his career was legendary resiliency that didn’t seem there against Oliveira.
Michael Chiesa isn’t the one to test the weaknesses of Condit, looking at his past fights. Chiesa isn’t an especially consistent takedown artist, and Condit has struggled mostly with those that can get in on his hips as he blitzes forward with his striking. Chiesa doesn’t do anything to dissuade these rushes, his striking is fairly underdeveloped, and he can’t really be trusted to counter Condit as he walks forward. In most situations, Chiesa isn’t a particularly special grappler, and three of his four losses are via submission; there isn’t much reason to trust him to neutralize the tricky guard of Condit the way a grappler like Maia did. Pretty much all of Chiesa’s worthwhile actions are undertaken when he’s already on his opponent’s back, but he doesn’t really have a reliable way of getting there, and he isn’t enough of a hitter on the feet to rely on cracking Condit hard enough to stun him (the man that stunned Condit in his last outing may be top five in raw power in the division).
In a lot of ways, the sentiment around this fight seems similar to the narrative around Chiesa’s last fight against Anthony Pettis; while Pettis had declined and taken bad losses, there wasn’t anything specific that made Chiesa challenging for Pettis without bringing momentum into play. Both Chiesa and Condit have negative momentum and while Chiesa hasn’t skidded as far, he still isn’t a particularly difficult fight for Condit on paper.
Prediction: Condit via second-round knockout. This writer caps it: -130 Condit.