Lawler vs. Condit
As I get back into the full swing of things here in the MMA department of InsideSTL for 2016, the UFC has already delivered in a big way with UFC 195. The first and so far most talked about card of the new year finally allowed the paths of men named “Ruthless” and “The Natural Born Killer” to collide for the Welterweight championship.
Having tasted glory in the past as an interim champion, Carlos Condit entered the Octagon like a man possessed. After losing to Georges “Rush” St. Pierre in their battle to be call undisputed, Condit then fell short to another former 170-pound champ in Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks in a title-eliminator (both via unanimous decision.) Condit looked to gather back some momentum with a TKO victory against Martin “The Hitman” Campan. BOOM! As quickly as a flash of lightning, an ACL tear put him on the shelf. Not to be forgotten, the next times fans saw him in the cage over a year later, Condit put down a “Pitbull” in Thiago Alves by way of doctor stoppage. This increased his list of triumphs to 30. 50 percent of those involved his fists being used as a place for his opponents to rest their heads once the lights went out. On the night of UFC 195 earlier this month, Condit could be defined by one simple phrase: I’m still here. With his challenger lying in wait, Lawler stalked his way to the the ultimate proving ground. Standing in an arena filled with thousands of people, Lawler looked like he was in a room all by himself. Smiling but focused, this clearly is not a place where you say work was “just another day at the office.” The tale of the tape flashes on TV screens and ring announcer Bruce Buffer does his thing. Amongst all the noise, the only man these combatants hear is referee “Big John” McCarthy and his signature line: “Let’s get it on!” Round 1 In the first 90 seconds Lawler is the picture-perfect definition of cage control, starting out with feints before working his way into Condit’s personal space to pepper him with jabs. They may not win you the fight, but the key is to let them add up early. Condit starts low with kicks. Lawler looks to make his next move and does so by moving offensively with his left hand. Condit sees a the opening that the movement left and capitalizes. The knuckles of Condit’s right hand make contact and may have made for good TV, but Lawler pops up to his feet from the canvas almost instantaneously. He grins--maybe he’s unfazed, maybe it’s a facade--the action rolls on. A knee in the clinch lands for Condit. He then goes right-side-high with a kick that Lawler works through. The pair center-up in the middle of the Octagon, their shadows dancing as they hover over the familiar Monster Energy logo. Condit launches a flurry in close, a buffet of technique: hands, kicks, and (in Muay Thai fashion) elbows , keeping the defending champion on his toes. The first frame is down. Personal Scoring: 10-9 Condit Round 2 With another five minutes now ticking away on the clock, Lawlers tree stump of a shin hits paydirt with Condit's midsection. Condit tries to touch the toes of his right foot to Lawler’s jaw but the attempt is blocked. Lawler suffers another left hook thanks to the classic boxing “stick and move” modus operandi.”Ruthless” then whiffs on a front kick that would be “through the uprights” in football. As if Condit had based his plan of attack around the “legs feed the wolf” scene in the film “Miracle”, he connects low again. Lawler counters with a pair of hooks and a thundering uppercut that sends Condit falling faster than the stock market in 2008. The crowd erupts as they battle in the guard of “NBK”. In an attempt to give himself some time to breathe, Condit aims to stifle Lawler through upper body control, but “Big John” puts them vertical again. The last two minutes disappear with Condit still throwing kicks, most low ones are checked and up top nothing seems to find its way through on Lawler. As noted by commentator Mike Goldberg, Condit leads 3-1 in strikes however. Personal Scoring: 10-9 Lawler Round 3 Clearly paying homage to 1999’s “WWF Attitude” videogame, it appeared that by the third stanza of this bout that kicking was Condit’s sole path to a win. Predictability helped Lawler as he fed his adversary an elbow shortly thereafter. Joe Rogan said during the broadcast, “...these aren’t 100 percent full power kicks, it’s almost like he’s creating distance with them.” While Condit may have continued to pump out kicks like they were going out of style, he did keep Lawler backstepping as well as finding success with knees in tight. Still, Lawler appear to get the better of his opponent when they flashed hands in this round, but that wasn’t often enough. A successful front kick by Condit brings us to the last ten minutes. Personal Scoring: 10-9 Condit Round 4 Lawler has been taking punishment all night and with little time remaining is lowered to a knee. He shifts into another gear, forging on, going southpaw on Condit. Condit slingshots himself off of the cage wall and lands a follow-up right. A slip on a kick attempt from the titleholder opens him up to a knee. Another exchange starts to show just how battered the American Top Team member is as blood starts to fall. Only sheer desire is keeping Lawler up as this fight just got a whole lot more fun (a la Griffin vs. Bonnar.) Knee, fist, knee, fist, it’s a whirlwind! A spin-kick (a la “Power Rangers”) finds its mark for Condit. What looked like a 6-4 combination takes us to another blow of the horn. Personal Scoring: 10-9 Condit Round 5 By this point both fighters have to know this career-shortening classic is a tough call and they’re both using whatever they have left in their gas tanks. Lawler appears to go back to what he had success with in the first, sectioning off the Octagon, charging through everything like a bull in a china shop (only more precise.) The pair impact again low. Lawler score with a left just before sending an arcing overhand right crashing down on Condit. In a series of moves that could make the nickname “Cyclone” a viable option for Condit, elbows are flying everywhere. A kick to the abdomen backs Lawler up, creating enough of a gap for Condit to unleash a spinning backfist. They meet in the middle again with the crowd roaring in deep appreciation. Condit’s successful with a 5-4 combo. A short while later, a total strikes stat crosses the screen: 43/106 for Lawler vs. 140/394 for Condit . The clock dips two minutes as Lawler blocks a head kick, but Condit lands leather at will. In a desperate attempt to stop the challenger’s momentum, Lawler heaves a brick of a left hand and scores. It’s a race to the finish now as all fight science goes out the window. To quote BJ Penn, they “just scrap!”
A knee from Condit is met with a right that staggers him. What happens in the last minute and a half is the stuff of brutal beauty in MMA but is also the kind of activity that will keep Advil flying off of store shelves. It’s all rights and lefts until the horn brings this showcase to an end and the crowd to the feet. Personal Scoring: 10-9 Lawler/ Winner: Condit Actual Cumulative Scoring: 48-47 Condit, 48-47 Lawler, 48-47 Lawler After the bout Condit admitted that while a rematch “excites” him, he is considering retirement.