Flying to Afghanistan with a group of fellow mixed martial artists, Carlos Condit had visions of meeting American troops and showing strength and support for his fellow Americans overseas.
So why did he knock out a member of the Armed Forces?
Even during exhibitions, Condit apparently doesn’t know his own strength, but the rest of the MMA world is beginning to catch up to the rather-thin New Mexican who defends his World Extreme Cagefighting welterweight title against Japan’s Hiromitsu Miura (9-4) on Sunday at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
The title bout is just one of three championship matches on the card that will be televised by Versus.
Miura, who regularly fought as a 185-pound middleweight until his last fight, drops down to 170 pounds once again to determine if the lighter weight division can propel him to greater heights.
“He’s a very tough guy. Lots of the Japanese fighters are just real tough,” said the 24-year-old Condit (22-4). “He’s got powerful hands, he’s a great striker, and I’m going to have to be on my toes with my stand up. He’s also got good judo throws. I have to make sure I don’t get tossed on my head.”
The Japanese strongman broke Jason “Mayhem” Miller’s arm during their back-and-forth match a year ago, though he lost a close decision.
Though only 170 pounds soaking wet, the WEC welterweight champion has exhibited an astounding ability to capture wins by a variety of means, whether it’s kicks, punches or his rubberband assortment of jiu-jitsu submissions.
One thing about Condit: he doesn’t fool himself into thinking he’s king of the mountain though he’s the owner of the WEC title. He knows there is bigger game out there and he’s willing to inch his way up the MMA ladder.
The thin-framed titleholder doesn’t want to make rash assumptions that he deserves a date against the elite just now.
“I’d like to fight a Nick Diaz, Josh Koscheck or Karo Parisyan, they’re tough opponents. I got a lot of respect for these guys,” he said. “I’d think they would be good fights for me and they’re gatekeepers to the upper echelon of the welterweight division. I could have said GSP (George St. Pierre) and Jon Fitch, but I have to pay my dues before that.”
The Albuquerque, New Mexico fighter has become a big favorite in his home state, let alone his home city. When he showed up at a recent boxing match, fans roared their approval when he was announced.
“I’ve been working really hard on this for a long time. I definitely paid my dues by taking a lot of tough fights, taking beatings and I’ve definitely gone through the paces,” said Condit, who has two successful title defenses thus far. “To see it pay off and get notoriety and visit troops in Afghanistan, it’s very cool.”
Among those on the flight to Afghanistan were MMA stars B.J. Penn, Michael Bisping, Urijah Faber and Condit. Does that mean anything for Condit’s future?
“I’m a younger guy so I got a bit of advice from Urijah and B.J. Penn,” he says. “He’s (Penn) got tons of experience and been around the game for awhile. I look up to him and admire him quite a bit.”
Those that follow WEC fight cards have come to admire the thin man with the long arms and spiky hair because they know he’s something special. He also realizes those Americans and Allies in Afghanistan are special too.
“There is an ongoing war and we don’t hear anything about it on the news,” said Condit about the troops in that country. “Our men and women are risking their lives. It is dangerous.”
Other title fights on WEC card
Brian Stann defends his newly won WEC light heavyweight title against Steve Cantwell. Stann captured the title against Doug “The Rhino” Marshall last March at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Now he returns in a rematch against Cantwell, who he beat in March 2007. It’s the second time around and it should take more than the 41 seconds it took to end the fight in their first match.
In another championship bout, WEC lightweight titleholder Jamie Varner makes his first defense against undefeated Marcus Hicks. Varner captured the title with a knockout over former champion Rob McCullough last February. In that standup battle, Varner showed that he’s pretty good with his boxing skills. He needed all his tools to beat McCullough, who makes a living punching out guys.
Season 2 TapouT
On Wednesday, the second season of TapouT begins on Versus television at 10 p.m. eastern.
The series centers on the team’s search for the next MMA superstar. The team travels across the country looking for the next incredible fighter.
“There are unbelievable fighters with incredible stories,” says Mask, the founder of TapouT.
Marc Fein, executive vice president of Programming for Versus, said the show attracted more than 40 million viewers total last year.
Fights coming up
Thurs. July 31 – Fight Card Entertainment: Sacrifice at Genesis Center Plaza in Gary, Indiana. (773) 745-1112.
Fri. Aug. 1 – Rage in the Cage 113 at Santa Ana Star Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (505) 891-7300.
Fri. Aug. 1 – Total Combat 30 at Starlight Bowl in San Diego, California. (619) 544-7827.
Fri. Aug. 1 – Icon Sport: Hard Times at Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii. (808) 591-2211.
Video: MMA from NBC Sports
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