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UFC 219: Condit energized by time off

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Carlos Condit had seen better times, that much was painfully clear.

He’d lost three of his last four fights. In the midst of that span, he’d had to come back from a torn ACL.

One of those three losses was particularly devastating, coming by disputed split decision against Robbie Lawler for the UFC welterweight title that Condit long had sought.

Then, after a crushing loss to Demian Maia by first-round submission in August 2016, Albuquerque’s “Natural Born Killer” walked away from MMA.

Now, 16 months later, he’s running, not walking, back into the fray. He’ll face Denver’s Neil Magny (19-6) on Saturday, with almost more desire than he knows what to do with.

“Honestly, I’m champing at the bit to fight,” Condit (30-10) said on Thursday during a media “scrum” at T-Mobile Arena, the site of Saturday’s UFC 219.

“I’ve got a lot of energy right now. I’m really motivated. The time off, I think, has reinvigorated me, and I’m ready to go in there and have some fun.”

Condit’s comeback effort against Magny is a featured fight on a card headlined by Albuquerque’s Holly Holm, Condit’s Jackson-Wink MMA teammate, in her challenge for the UFC women’s featherweight title belt against champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino of Brazil.

After the Maia loss, Condit expressed doubt as to whether he, at age 32, still could compete at the highest level of MMA.

Now, at 33, he said he has no doubt that he can.

When he resumed training in the spring, he was asked, how long did it take him to realize all the skills were still there?

“You know, as soon as I got back in there,” he said. “I never lost it. I had a (bad) fight the last go-round, obviously. I went out there and fell on my face. But I don’t know any fighter that hasn’t (had that happen).

“It’s still there. I’ve still got it.”

Condit has a worthy adversary in Magny, whose résumé includes victories over former UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks (who defeated Condit by unanimous decision in 2013) and New Mexican Tim Means.

Magny is 10-1 in fights that have gone to the scorecards. Condit is 2-5 in such fights. It stands to reason, then, that Condit would prefer not to have the judges involved in the outcome.

“Obviously, I like to finish,” he said. “Everybody likes to finish; that’s kind of like, duh.

“But, yeah, I think my style and my skill set lends itself to finishing fights, and this is gonna be another classic, for sure.”

Condit said he’s focused on Magny and isn’t thinking about whether to continue beyond Saturday. But, he said, his talent is a gift he doesn’t want to waste.

“Honestly, I don’t know,” he said. “I feel like that, in this time that I’ve got, my skills are still here. I’m still young.

“I’ve still got it, and I’m gonna use this time while I’ve got it. That’s really just kind of how I’m looking at it.”

THE GREATEST: UFC President Dana White says he believes Holm can stake a legitimate claim to being the greatest female combat sports athlete of all time if she can defeat Cyborg on Saturday.

“If Holly Holm can pull off this win, I think she’s a 4-to-1 underdog just like she was against Ronda Rousey, she wins this fight, greatest female fighter of all time,” White said on Thursday in an interview on Fox Sports 1. “She’s been fighting her whole life.

“She’s a 13-time boxing world champion, a multiple-time kickboxing champion, she beat the unbeatable Ronda Rousey in spectacular fashion, and if she goes out and beats Cyborg — everybody thinks that Cyborg is unbeatable — she beats the unbeatable, how can you deny she’s the greatest female fighter of all time?”

Holm, speaking last week on a UFC teleconference, said that’s a matter to be determined — if at all — after she’s done fighting, something that’s not yet in her plans.

“… Each fight is not the defining fight,” she said. ‘It’s the whole career and every opponent that’s gotten me to here and just the whole journey along the way.”

THE SHOW: Holm turned her obligatory open workout on Thursday into an aerobics class — inviting several spectators onto the stage for a workout as several hundred people watched and took photos and video in the T-Mobile Arena lobby.

“Do you know what you’re signing up for?” she asked her volunteers before they took the stage for what turned out to be some fairly impactful stuff.

Some did, it appeared, and some didn’t. But they, and the crowd, all seemed to enjoy it.


UFC 219

Holly Holm vs. Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, several other fights. TV: Prelims, FS1, 6 p.m. Main card, PPV, 8 p.m.