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Forget retirement, Condit focused on UFC title run

He knows his place in the sport is secure.

A belt would be nice, but from those who matter most – his family, his team and his most revered peers in the fight game – respect was earned long ago for Albuquerque’s Carlos Condit.

That is why after his Jan. 2 war with then-welterweight champion Robbie Lawler at UFC 195 – a debatable split decision loss that still doesn’t sit well with some in his camp at Jackson-Wink MMA – Condit seriously considered calling it a career.

“I bounced back and forth between whether I was going to continue or whether I was going to move on,” admits the 32-year-old Condit. “Retirement is in the near future. … We all have a shelf life. We all have an expiration date. At some point, I’ve got to figure out something else to do with my life. But not quite yet. I’ve still got something in me.”

That something will be put back on display Saturday in Vancouver, British Columbia, as the fighter dubbed “the Natural Born Killer” will be back in his natural habitat – the UFC’s octagon. He headlines the nationally televised UFC Fight Night card on Fox against Brazillian jiu jitsu master Demian Maia (23-6), who is riding a five-fight win streak.

Condit (30-9) said his focus on the fight has been as sharp as ever, despite the Lawler loss forcing him to contemplate his future.

“I fight,” he said. “Simple as that. I’m not quite ready to hang the gloves up, yet. … I’m not trying to prove anything to anybody. I’m fighting because I enjoy it. This is my job. This is how I make my living. This is how I put food on the table. I feel like it’s a good place to be. I’m doing this thing for the right reasons.”

While a championship belt may not specifically be the reason Condit is coming back, he isn’t back to waste his time with meaningless fights, either. He and the Jackson-Wink team – cornering him Saturday night will be Mike Winkeljohn, Greg Jackson and Ricky Lundell – insist the winner of this fight between two of the top four welterweights in the UFC’s rankings should be in line for a title shot with champion Tyron Woodley.

“A big win over Demian Maia puts me right back in the title picture and gives me a legitimate claim to the title shot,” said Condit, whose last two losses have been to Lawler and Woodley.

When he lost to Woodley in 2014, Condit suffered a knee injury that kept him out of competition for more than a year. He isn’t afraid to say he wants to run that one back.

“Without a doubt, I want to avenge all my losses as a competitor,” Condit said. “With Woodley as a champion now, that’s just a bonus.”

WHAT A RUN: In Condit’s past 10 fights, he’s earned a performance bonus in seven (five for fight of the night, two for knockout of the night) and won the UFC’s interim welterweight title over Nick Diaz in 2012 in another. Two of those fights – his 2012 loss to UFC legend Georges St Pierre and the Lawler loss – were considered by many among the fights of their respective years.

A BAD OMEN? Saturday’s event is the 21st by UFC airing on the main Fox network, not one of its cable networks, as part of a broadcast deal that runs through 2018. Jackson-Wink fighters are 0-4 headlining on Fox: John Dodson lost to Demetrious Johnson on Jan. 25, 2013, in Chicago; Travis Browne to Fabricio Werdum on April 19, 2014, in Orlando, Fla.; Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone to Rafael dos Anjos on Dec. 19 in Orlando, Fla.; and Holly Holm to Valentina Shevchenko on July 23 in Chicago.

ON UFC 202: Condit/Maia was originally scheduled for last week’s UFC 202, before being booked as the headliner for Vancouver.

Condit still watched with great interest as two fellow Albuquerque-trained fighters – teammate Cerrone and FIT-NHB’s Tim Means – had impressive second-round TKOs in welterweight bouts.

“They both looked awesome,” Condit said. “The dude Tim fought, it was his first fight in the UFC, but he was definitely tough. He’s a guy out of a good camp at ATT (American Top Team). Tim looked great.

“And Cowboy looked awesome. I’ve always been a fan of Rick Story (the fighter Cerrone beat). He’s a hell of a fighter, but Cowboy just dismantled him. … When Cowboy is on and he’s in his zone, he’s a killer.”

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