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Condit will be fighting for his UFC life

Michael Chiesa, left, and Carlos Condit fight during the second round of a welterweight mixed martial arts bout at UFC 232, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

Carlos Condit won’t pretend this is just the next fight. He knows it could be his last, at least as far as the UFC is concerned.

Even so, he says, Saturday’s fight against Matt Brown is – at its core – no different from his 44 MMA fights that preceded it.

“I have all the motivation I need,” Condit said in a phone interview from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, “knowing there’s a guy who’s gonna come across the Octagon and try to end me and do me great bodily harm on live television. … Everything else is just details.”

Condit (31-13), of Albuquerque, and Brown (22-17), of Cincinnati, are both greatly admired veterans of the UFC’s welterweight division. After two previous scheduled fights between the two fell through because of injuries to Brown, they’ll finally step into the cage Saturday in a featured bout at the UFC’s “Fight Island.”

Yet, as respected as they are, both fighters, with a loss on Saturday, might face the possibility of being cut from the UFC’s voluminous roster.

UFC President Dana White had talked of releasing some 60 fighters before the end of 2020. That didn’t happen but still could.

Condit, 36, won’t run and hide from that prospect, anymore than he intends to run and hide from Brown.

“I think a lot of guys are fighting for their jobs, or their spot in the UFC,” he said. “This is the last fight on my contract, so, yeah, there’s a lot of different reasons that this is a big fight for me.”

Condit has had a superb MMA career, one that began in 2002 and earned him victories over Jake Ellenberger, Rory MacDonald, Dan Hardy, Nick Diaz and Martin Kampmann. Among his losses, he gave MMA legend Georges St-Pierre one of his toughest fights and controversially came up short on the scorecards in a UFC welterweight title fight against Robbie Lawler.

But, over a span of two years, Condit lost five consecutive fights. He snapped that streak with a victory by unanimous decision in Abu Dhabi over Court McGee on Oct. 3, but believes he might need not just a victory but a decisive one Saturday to secure a continued spot in the UFC ranks.

He’s confident he can achieve exactly that. Easily accomplished? No. Condit doesn’t even want it to be easy – just violent.

“Matt is ultra aggressive, comes forward, hits hard. He’s got a well-rounded skill set,” he said. “He’s beatable, though. He’s a strong, well-conditioned athlete, but he’s got holes in his game and, technically, I think I’m gonna be able pick him apart.

“I know I’m gonna be able to pick him apart.”

Brown, of course, has his own views on the subject.

“Of course, I respect Carlos,” Brown said during a UFC WebEx interview. “I’ve always been a big fan of his. He’s one of my favorite fighters. I love watching him fight; I always cheer for him when he’s fighting.

“Unfortunately for him, he’s got to deal with me this weekend. After I beat him up, I’m probably gonna be sad … that I beat him up so bad. But I’m OK with that.”

Brown, who turned 40 on Sunday, and Condit were to have met in December 2013, but a back injury to Brown scuttled the fight. It was rescheduled for April 2018, but Brown tore an ACL.

Barring something bizarre between now and fight time, this long-anticipated fight between two relentless strikers will finally happen.

The UFC never gave up on the matchup, Condit believes, for precisely that reason.

“We’re both aggressive fighters, both very skilled strikers,” he said. “Everyone wants to see that striking battle.

“We’re well-rounded guys; we’re mixed martial artists. But people always want to see a striking battle between a couple of guys who like to get after it.”

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