Carlos Condit had it all. “The Natural Born Killer” was a dominant champion in the WEC’s welterweight division, the star pupil at FIT NHB gym in his native Albuquerque, New Mexico, and one of the faces of Zuffa’s lighter weight organization.
But in a matter of four months, all of that vanished. On January 24th, one day before WEC 38: Varner vs. Cerrone was about to take place, company officials had to break some disturbing news to Condit.
“They let me know they were gonna scrap the division,” the 25-year-old recalls. “I had mixed feelings on it, for sure. I had been extremely proud to be the WEC’s champ, and it was a great opportunity for me to fight some top quality opponents and make a name for myself. So I felt a little bit down about it, but on the other hand going to the UFC – that’s a big step. The fights are bigger, the pay is bigger and it’s just bigger on a whole other scale.”
Although Condit was a consensus top ten fighter and the 170-pound titleholder of the UFC’s little brother of an organization, the “Natural Born Killer” would have to prove himself before getting a crack at division kingpin Georges St. Pierre.
But none of that deterred the Albuquerque resident. “If anything, it added some motivation. You know, some fire under my ass to get moving again and have something to shoot for,” he says. “Training to maintain the title is one thing. Training to climb the ladder is something else. That’s just how life goes. You get to one place and think you’re good, and you know, things change. You gotta adapt.”
Perhaps the biggest change for Condit was his gym affiliation. A long time devotee of FIT NHB, dating back to the days when the facility was still associated with Jackson’s Submission Fighting, the 170-pound juggernaut never pictured leaving his home surroundings.
But the ‘Killer finally outgrew his local gym environment. “There were a lot of different reasons for me [leaving]. Probably the biggest thing was … over there, I was one of the only fighters who was really competing on my level. A lot of the other guys were just starting out. There were a lot of amateurs,” he confesses. “It was a great school and I learned a lot from Tom and Arlene Vaughn, but I felt it was time in my career to move on. Along with the professional reasons for leaving, I just wanted to strike out on my own, go live somewhere else for once and I’ve been in Albuquerque most of my life. I just wanted to go check out something new and check out a new scene.”
That new scene is located in Phoenix at Arizona Combat Sports Club where he trains with high caliber fighters like WEC Lightweight Champ Jamie Varner, TUF Champ Ryan Bader, C.B. Dollaway and Aaron Simpson.
With a fresh training camp and a plethora of new sparring partners, Condit was well-prepared for his big UFC debut in the headlining bout of Ultimate Fight Night this past April when he took on Martin “Hitman” Kampmann.
For the first two rounds, it was a back-and-forth striking battle that could have gone either way. In the third stanza, however, the Dane scored more takedowns and was able to control Condit enough to earn a split decision victory.
“I’m not gonna say that I felt I won the night,” he says. “Based on the judging criteria, I can see how they gave the fight to him. But as far as pure damage and who did more as far as a street fight, then I think I did win.”
In the months to follow, he visited family in Albuquerque, returned to Phoenix to tighten up his technique and entered baby-making mode. That’s right: Condit and his lady are expecting their first child in March.
Condit (22-5) is also expecting a war next week at Ultimate Fight Night. The “Natural Born Killer” was originally slated to duel Chris Lytle, a competitor once rumored to challenge Condit for the WEC strap over a year ago, but was sidelined with a knee injury. Jake Ellenberger (21-4) will step in for Lytle in his octagon debut.
While Condit expects to trade strikes and fend off his opponent’s takedown attempts, he isn’t planning to make this a close contest. Actually, he’s looking to smash Ellenberger by any means necessary.
“I’m looking to make a big statement,” he says. “I wanna get in and get back on the wining track, and I need to get a W in the UFC. I’m 0-1 so far and that doesn’t sit well with me. I think my upcoming opponent is very tough, and is nobody to look past at all, but I’m well prepared and I’m looking to make a statement.”