On this cool evening at FIT NHB, a well-established training facility located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Condit just fi nished hitting the bags and is cooling down in the gym’s offi ce. The 23-year-old has been concentrating on his technique because he is slated to defend his title against Carlo Prater – the fi rst man to ever defeat him – in a grudge match at WEC 29.
Though he will be fi ghting only a few minutes down the road at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, the 170-pound wrecking ball is planning to put on a clinic. “More so than redeeming the loss, it’s a chance to show how far I’ve come from then to now,” he states. “I’m going to go in there and do my thing. My fi ghting, my skills, and my aggression speak for themselves. I don’t have to prove myself to anybody.”
The juggernaut might not have to prove himself to anyone, but it seems like he has to defend World Extreme Cagefi ghting from constant scrutiny. When Zuffa purchased the organization in 2006, it became regarded as a second tier fi ght promotion.
That doesn’t sit well in the eyes of Condit. “The PR guy in the WEC says perception is reality, and if these guys perceive the WEC to be the second tier organization, then that’s their reality. But that’s not necessarily the truth,” he states. “In the UFC, there is a lot of pressure to win and I think, sometimes, guys don’t perform as well as they could. They don’t really let it all hang out because a win could either shoot them up or drop them so far down the ladder. WEC is a little different. If you fi ght your ass off and have a good show, win or lose, you’re going to do well.”
Despite his age, that’s exactly what Condit has been doing for years – fi ghting his ass off.
Carlos Condit is a product of Albuquerque’s working class environment. His father was a union electrician, and eventually became a labor leader under future Governor Brian Richardson. His mother was a certifi ed nurse. Surrounded by positive infl uences, the young Carlos never really steered off track.
But, like most adolescent children, he was easily bored. The only thing that temporarily quenched his boredom was retreating with friends to the desert to build forts, ride dirt bikes, and set off fi reworks. “You gotta fi nd your own things to do and sometimes, that involves getting in trouble and running around like a bunch of wild kids,” he explains. “Well, more mischief than trouble. I never got into any serious trouble, but maybe if I got caught doing the things I was doing…”
When Condit was nine years old, he found something to occupy his time. “I told my dad I wanted to go to the Tae Kwon Do school down the street and he told me, ‘No, you’re not going there,’” he recalls. “But he took me down to the junior wrestling program and I started wrestling.”
After wrestling in his freshmen year of high school, the young Natural Born Killer needed a stronger outlet for his energy. That’s when he started attending a Jackson’s Submissions affi liate training facility (which would later be renamed FIT NHB) on the west side of Albuquerque. Under the tutelage of Tom and Arlene Vaughn, he learned boxing, Jiu-Jitsu, and Muay Thai.
In 2002, Condit made his MMA debut against Nick Roscoria. Despite having a few butterfl ies, he turned into a maniac and submitted his opponent with a rear naked choke in the fi rst round. Then, he went on a tear (save the submission loss to Carlo Prater in 2004).
But the welterweight bulldozer didn’t really take his career seriously until 2005. “I had quite a few fi ghts before then – just training and fi ghting on local circuits – but I wasn’t super focused until three years ago,” he admits. “I wasn’t going to school, and this was the only thing I was doing. I fi gured if this is the only thing I’m putting my energy into, I better be good at it. I better be successful at it and I better try my damndest to be successful at it.”
That’s when everything changed. In the beginning of a breakout 2006, he defeated seasoned veterans Renato Verissmo and Frank Trigg before dropping a close decision to Jake Shields. Then, he went to Pancrase and decimated the competition. That led to a two-fi ght deal with the World Fighting Alliance, but before he could debut, Zuffa bought (and disbanded) the fi ght promotion. Though Condit was given the choice to fi ght in either the UFC or the WEC, he realized the latter provided the best opportunities.
The decision certainly pleased Scott Adams, the company’s offi cial matchmaker, who was looking to sign the Albuquerque native for quite some time. “Not a lot of fi ghters have that killer instinct. They try to win a decision and be conservative,” Adams explains. “But when Carlos fi ghts, you can feel that persona and that killer instinct he has in the cage. He is not there to win a decision. He wants to go out there and fi nish fi ghts, and I think that makes him an exciting fi ghter because he can submit you and knock you out in any situation.”
Condit has lived up to those words. He choked out Kyle Jensen in his WEC debut, and in his next bout, he submitted a game John Alessio in the second round to capture the Welterweight belt. That win has been the pinnacle of his young career. “It was amazing,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time and in the fi ght game, there are a lot of ups and downs. When I beat John, it made all those hard times and struggle worth it.”
Since earning the belt, Condit has been ranked as a top ten welterweight in a list dominated mostly by UFC fi ghters. While Condit stands alone as the WEC’s kingpin, he is open to cross-promotional matches. “I wanna fi ght the best in the world, but I’m not sure how the relationship between the WEC and the UFC is going to work out. I’m not sure if they’ve exactly fi gured it all out,” Condit admits. “But my job is to fi ght my ass off and I’ll smash anybody they put in front of me.”
For the moment, that would be Carlo Prater.
At the offi ces of FIT NHB, Condit is still cooling down after an intense training session with some of his coaches. He has been preparing diligently for his match against Carlo Prater, and the champ is the most focused he has ever been. In fact, it’s like he’s hypnotized. “I eat, breathe, and sleep MMA,” he admits. “I wake up in the morning and, ya know, I think about smashing Carlo Prater.”
On February 13, he did just that. Condit submitted his foe with a guillotine choke minutes into the fi rst round and improved his record to 22-4. The sold-out crowd at the Santa Ana Star Center went bananas, and even Brian Richardson, Governor of New Mexico, clapped vigorously for the hometown hero.
But as soon as the cage doors opened, it was Richardson’s deputy chief of staff and the champion’s father, Brian Condit, who jumped towards his son and gave him a hug. “My Dad was supportive from day one,” he explains. “When I was a teenager and didn’t have a car, he’d take me to practice every day. And he kinda raised me as a fi ghter since I was real young. He showed me how to box, he showed me how to wrestle, he was real supportive…and he still is. He’s my biggest fan.”
Aside the support of his family, the 170-pound wrecking ball has the backing of nearly every fan of the sport and with good reason. “People identify with a guy like Carlos Condit. You look at this guy in the street and you don’t think this guy could be a world champion as a fi ghter. But when he comes in with his hair shaved off, he has this unblinking stare where he gazes at his op
ponents, and that killer instinct in the way he fi ghts. People really identify with him.” Adams offers. “I think they really like watching this guy fi ght. We got a win-win situation with Carlos holding our belt. As he says, he is representing the WEC.”
And Condit also represents the average guy.