ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As a measure of how much acceptance mixed-martial arts has gained in Albuquerque, and how much Carlos Condit has contributed in that regard, Mayor Richard Berry on Wednesday issued an official proclamation praising the achievements of an athlete nicknamed “Natural Born Killer.”
Condit, who comes honestly by the nickname in the cage but is polite and well-spoken outside the octagon, said he was deeply appreciative of that acceptance.
“It’s been a long road to this point,” said Condit, 27, who on Feb. 4 defeated Nick Diaz for the UFC interim welterweight title. “… I’m supremely thankful and honored.”
While several of his Jackson-Winkeljohn Mixed Martial Arts teammates have held UFC titles — the very top rung of MMA — Condit is the first Albuquerque native to do so, interim or otherwise.
“We’re here to celebrate excellence,” Berry said before a brief ceremony declaring it Carlos Condit Day at the new Jackson’s martial arts academy on Eubank NE. “Mixed-martial arts has really caught fire in America. It excites people; it’s about exceptionalism.”
Condit fell in love with MMA as a kid, when most of the sporting public was either unaware or disdainful of the sport. He has watched it grow — and contributed to its growth.
“I was always puzzled as to why it wasn’t more popular (at first),” he said. “I think a lot of it was misconceptions as to what the sport was, who the fighters were.
“I think now that people have had an opportunity to gain an understanding of the sport and see the fighters for the athletes that they are, I think that’s a big part of the growth in popularity.”
Two more thresholds crossed: Condit recently was featured in ESPN the Magazine, and Wednesday was introduced to a cheering Pit crowd at halftime of the Lobos-Air Force men’s basketball game.
Condit (28-5) is scheduled to face UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, a sometime Jackson-Winkeljohn teammate, when St-Pierre is recovered from a torn ACL — an injury that prompted the Condit-Diaz fight. Condit said it’s possible but unlikely, depending on St-Pierre’s rehab, that the Albuquerquean might fight someone else first.
The possibility of a rematch with Diaz, who complained bitterly about the decision in the interim title bout, was snuffed when the Stockton, Calif., fighter tested positive for marijuana. Condit had been eager for the rematch because of fan backlash critical of both the outcome and of the Albuquerquean’s tactical approach in defeating Diaz.
That’s one threshold, Condit said — appreciation of strategy, as opposed to pure mayhem — that many MMA converts have yet to cross.
“Everybody’s gonna have a different opinion, and different people are looking for different things in a fight,” he said.
“It was one fight, one fight in my career. If you didn’t like the way that I fought wait till the next one. Just because I fought that fight the way I did, it doesn’t mean the next one or the one after that is gonna be the same. I’m constantly trying to evolve as a fighter.”
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal