"I won't be surprised if the fight ends early" - Exclusive interview with UFC's Carlos Condit
UFC’s first PPV of the year will see two of the most exciting fighters on the planet go head to head for the UFC welterweight title.
Robbie Lawler has drastically improved over the past few years, and what was once his weakness – fighting outside the pocket is now one of his main strengths, as seen during his fight with Rory MacDonald.
While in a recent interview, Lawler told us that he won’t be giving up the title any time soon, his opponent for Saturday has different plans.
Carlos Condit, much like Lawler is known for his explosive style and aggression inside the Octagon. The former WEC welterweight champion is one of the most dangerous fighters in the division, as is well rounded inside the cage.
While Condit is known for his ability to get within range and then outwork his opponent, he will be fighting Lawler, who has a very similar style to Condit’s.
However, before we get to UFC 195, my colleague Ratish and I caught up with the former UFC interim welterweight champion to get his thoughts on the upcoming fight, in an exclusive interview.
Your comeback fight against a very dangerous Thiago Alves was an eye opener for the ones who had overlooked you given your absence. One of the distinguishing features of that fight was your effective use of elbows when in short range. How much of a game plan do you think you would be looking to execute against Robbie, who has a similar style as you?
I feel like utilizing my reach and my ability to push the pace is definitely a big key to winning this fight. I think the fans can expect to see that.
One of the major differences since your fight with Woodley last year has been your focus on movement training. You’ve been working with Le Corre, which showed tremendous results during your fight with Alves. Can you tell us how the movement training has helped you in becoming a better fighter?
I feel that in Mixed Martial Arts, sometimes we overlook maybe the finer points of techniques or movements or positions, and look for intensity or chain moves or techniques together.
You can go pretty far and be successful doing that, but what I did with movement training is really, take a step back and look also at my movement and my position, and really try and fix these things that I might have overlooked in the past, which were very small but quite possibly were costing me fights, or costing me positions or takedowns, or different things like that.
There was quite a stir when you were announced as Robbie's opponent late this year, given where you stand in the rankings. How much attention do you pay to the UFC rankings and do you think this match is mostly happening due to fans' demand rather than due to conventional matchmaking?
I don’t pay too much attention to rankings, and yeah, I do think that this fight was put together because of the style matchup between Robbie Lawler and myself. This makes for a very exciting fight, and this is the fight that the fans want to see.
So, that’s a big part of why this match has been made.
As one of the longest-tenured fighters at the Jackson - Winklejohn camp, how do you feel when you look at the rapid rise in profile of the world-class gym that began as just two passionate combat sports guys coming together to build a small team?
It was actually more than two – maybe a handful of guys. To see the rise has been amazing, but it’s not surprising. We have a formula for success that has been proved time and time again, and in recent years – especially very recently, it’s a lot of all that effort and work has come into fruition.
The knee injury you sustained early last year kept you out of action for a long time. Is there anything you have been advised to refrain from doing in your arsenal, which could prove detrimental to the knee?
Nothing at all. My knee is 100%, I feel like it is better and stronger and more stable than it was before. When they (doctors) went in there, they cleaned up a lot of old scar tissue, and it’s strong and ready to go. I feel really good.
It was surprising to see Jon Jones featured in the UFC video covering the fight week. Has he been involved in prepping you for this fight at all? If yes, what have been the things he has been able to help you with?
Me and Jon, we worked together sporadically in the past couple of months. He obviously has a very different body style than my opponent, so we didn’t have him as one of my primary sparring partners.
Plus he’s quite a bit bigger than me; so he didn’t help me so much in training, but just talking, having conversation about fight night psychology and the preparedness and the mental game, we talked a lot about.
We shared very similar processes come fight week and fight night, and it’s cool taking his grain and talking about a lot of that.
A large number of MMA fans were pleasantly surprised when you pushed GSP to his limits few years ago, when everyone thought he was unbeatable. How do you think your career has changed since that fight? Do you think it made you not just a better fighter, but a smarter fighter too?
I know that experience has shaped me as a fighter and improved me in a lot of different ways. Yeah, I was able to grow from that fight, and I was able to learn from that fight. Coming into this title fight on Saturday, I feel more poised, I feel confident and I’ve been there and I’ve done that. I fought in several UFC title fights, and this is my time.
You also talked about the now-famous head kick that dropped GSP in your fight, which you said you had practiced during your camp. Is there any such specific area you envisioned and practiced extensively during your camp for this fight?
Um, no. We practice a ton of different things; in game plan, a lot of times you get into the Octagon, and the game plan or your tactics aren’t quite working, so you have to switch it up. So you have to have a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C… you need to have a depth of techniques and strategies that you can employ if one thing is not working.
So there’s definitely things that can work, and if they don’t, you have other things you can fall back on.
It was refreshing to see you bringing your son, Owen to the gym while you trained in the embedded series leading up to 195. Is that something you do often?
Yeah, fairly often. Jackson’s gym is a very family friendly environment, and that’s where I spend a good chunk of my time. So, if I want to spend a little bit of extra time with Owen, my son, I bring him with me, and it’s good exercise for him. He has fun, he enjoys it. So he associates gym with fun, with good times.
In our chat with Robbie, he mentioned he is looking to finish you before the championship rounds. Any prediction from you on a decisive finish?
I wouldn’t be surprised if this fight ends early. I’m ready for whatever – I’m prepared to go five rounds at a hard pace, but knowing Robbie’s style and knowing my style, I think this fight will definitely end before the final bell.
Finally, do you have any message for your fans in India, who will be tuning in to watch UFC 195?
I’m excited to go in there and put on an incredible show. I’ve trained hard, and now I’m prepared to get out there and entertain like I always do.
You can catch UFC 195 live and exclusively on Sony SIX, Sony SIX HD and Sony KIX this Sunday at 7:30 AM IST, as Condit and Lawler square off in a match for the ages. Also, “The Pitbull” Andrei Arlovski will take on Stipe Miocic in what is essentially a title eliminator, as two of the most dominant heavyweights look to cement their place as the new number one contender for the title.