Carlos Condit has announced that he intends to return to the UFC after a lengthy absence, but who exactly should he face upon his return?
Tyron Woodley, the UFC’s welterweight champ, has recently declared that he intends to take some time off to let his body heal after what was a busy year or so at the top, but also to allow the somewhat crowded title picture at 170lb to settle.
It’s pretty hard to argue against the fact that he sits atop the UFC’s most competitive division, but even though you could easily name off about six or seven worthy challengers to the Chosen One’s throne, one of the most electric fighters to ever compete in the weight-class may well fight for the belt again, before all is said and done.
On Tuesday evening, virtually out of nowhere, the former interim-welterweight champion Carlos Condit reached out to the UFC’s matchmaker Sean Shelby in the hope of fighting once again this winter, almost a year-and-a-half since he was swiftly submitted by Demian Maia in what was his last outing.
We have yet to hear anything concrete about who Condit will be taking on but since we’re in the business of speculation, the time seems perfect to have a look at four fighters who could give Carlos the welcoming party he deserves if he is indeed serious about calling a halt to his self-imposed hiatus.
4. Rafael dos Anjos
RDA’s move to welterweight and the less strenuous weight-cut that it offers has seen him go 2-0 in his first pair of match-ups but despite his impressive win against Tarec Saffiedine in his debut, it was his first round destruction of Neil Magny at UFC 215 that really elevated the status of his name at 170lb.
We all know what Dos Anjos brings to the table at this stage. He’s fast, powerful and his conditioning allows him to employ a truly smothering pressure-fighting style, a style that has seen him run through the likes of Anthony Pettis, Benson Henderson and Donald Cerrone in the past.
A fight with Condit would not only be a suitable comeback for the Natural Born Killer and a gauge of where the Brazilian stands in the division, but it would also be an unmissable event in itself, one that fans would undoubtedly be as happy to see as any that could possibly be booked featuring either of these guys.
3. Gunnar Nelson
Gunni’s ascent towards cementing his top-10 status suffered yet another setback as he dropped his last fight in stunning fashion against Santiago Ponzinibbio a few weeks ago. Of course, some fairly obvious foul-play was a major factor in this defeat but the UFC have made it clear that they do not intend on overturning the decision, despite the fact that Ponzinibbio’s fingers were shown to have poked the Icelandic fighter in the eye several times over the course of the fight’s very short runtime.
Nelson, simply put, needs to crack on while he’s in his prime. We all know what he can do at this stage but even though he has picked up impressive wins over Albert Tumenov and Alan Jouban in the last year, he has yet to take out a real marquee name in the division, something that would make a showdown with Condit a real doozy.
For Condit, there would be more than enough fan demand for a match-up with the SBG Ireland/Mjolnir product to warrant a five-round main-event slot as a headliner and with both men currently sitting on the fringes of the title picture, a win for either could prove huge in the grand scheme of their respective careers.
2. Robbie Lawler
Without showing too much favouritism this time around, I think I can speak for everyone when I say that this is the fight to make for Carlos Condit. Sure, any of these match-ups would be fun as hell but UFC 195’s headliner between Lawler and Condit was among the most entertaining fights we have had the pleasure of seeing in recent years.
Fights just don’t come any closer than this one did, and though Robbie came away from it with his title-reign still intact, many felt that Carlos did enough to warrant his hand being raised after the twenty-five minutes were up.
The fifth round of their first enthralling contest was possibly the most electric round in welterweight history and though Lawler’s name is a bit further up the rankings than Condit’s right now, I doubt he’ll pass on the opportunity to run back one of the most iconic fights of his already-legendary career.
1. Mike Perry
‘Platinum’ Mike Perry has single-handedly forced his way into our headlines of late with his truly vicious style inside the octagon and his unapologetically brash personality out of it.
His last two fights have seen him earn himself Knockout of the Night honours at each time of asking and now, with his record inside the UFC at 4-1 with a finish in every win, he will feel like he has done enough to warrant a step up in competition.
Long story short, if the UFC book Condit to take on Mike Perry the resulting fight will be a guaranteed barnburner. Sometimes you can just smell a potential knockout on the horizon and though there are some bigger names occupying this list, Condit-Perry has the potential to be as good as, if not better, than each and every one of them.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena