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Condit exacts revenge with win
“The Natural Born Killer” is back to doing what he does best: carving up opponents.
After two straight wrestling-heavy decision losses, Carlos Condit worked at shoring up the hole in his defense and showed off his improvements to keep the action where he prefers it: standing. The fight in his world, Condit sliced up Martin Kampmann with a wide array of punches and knees, finally finishing the tough Dane 54 seconds into the fourth round for a technical knockout.
The UFC Fight Night main event, held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, was a rematch of a 2009 bout which saw Kampmann win a close split decision. It was a loss that haunted Condit for a long time afterward, mostly because the renowned finisher felt he uncharacteristically stepped off the gas pedal in the final round, giving Kampmann an opening to sneak past him.
This time it was exactly the opposite, as Kampmann (20-7) started well but ran out of gas soon afterward. Living up to his nickname, Condit sensed his advantage and relentlessly worked towards a finish, his 27th in 29 career wins.
“Something was up,” Condit said of smelling his opponent’s vulnerability. “I did notice, to be honest, in the second, he looked tired. He did.”
Kampmann had his only opportunities in the first, when he took Condit down four times. Despite the positional advantage, he was able to land only five significant strikes over the opening five minutes.
From then on it was all Condit (29-7), who used a sharp jab and his signature left hook among many offensive weapons to keep Kampmann at distance. By the end of the second, he’d bloodied Kampmann’s nose, and by the third, he’d added another cut to Kampmann’s face above the right eyebrow.
A weary Kampmann tried one last-ditch effort, rushing Condit early in the fourth in an attempt to get him to the canvas. Condit did actually fall to the mat but quickly popped back up and poured it on, ending the night with a vicious barrage against the fence. It was a left hook that began the finishing sequence, wobbling Kampmann, who fired back. But the experienced Condit stayed away from the firefight, wisely picking his spots before finishing with ground strikes.
“He started out fast, but I kind of weathered the storm,” Condit said. “He didn’t put me really in any trouble. I guess he took my back in the first, but I got through that, and obviously I was able to turn the fight around.”
Condit, No. 2 in the most recent rankings, is now in an odd position. Having lost to champ Georges St-Pierre and top contender Johny Hendricks in his last two fights, he’s in a position with little to gain in any matchups not including either of those men, and much to lose.
Condit said that he expects St-Pierre to defeat Hendricks in their upcoming November matchup, but would be happy with a rematch with either.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s a tough question. We’ll see what happens.”
UFC president Dana White said that he, too, had no idea what might be next for Condit.
For Kampmann, there will be only regret about a strong start that went awry. He said that after the opening round, he felt his body sapped of energy, and while he tried to work through it, a second wind never came. And while in the past, he’s come back to win after being hurt, there was no miracle this time around.
“It doesn’t feel good to get tired in a fight, especially when the other guy keeps pushing forward,” he said. “Sometimes, you’ve got to dig deep and keep going and fighting. I felt I was pretty damn tired. Hat’s off to Carlos, he did a good job.”
The co-main event might have seen the rise of a new contender when Rafael dos Anjos, a longtime UFC lightweight, captured his most significant win to date, defeating Donald Cerrone in a unanimous decision. All three judges scored it 29-28.
Dos Anjos knocked down Cerrone with a right hook in the first, and for most of the rest of the bout, Cerrone seemed sluggish in firing off his offense, allowing dos Anjos to pull ahead and stay there. Cerrone did attempt to rally in the final two minutes of the bout, out-landing dos Anjos in that portion, but overall, dos Anjos out-struck him 58-43.
The win took the Brazilian’s win streak to five in a row, making him 20-6 overall. He recently cracked the UFC’s top 10 rankings and is likely to rise while Cerrone (20-6, 1 no contest), ranked No. 6 at the start of the night, is likely to tumble backwards.
“That was a big chance for me to prove to eveyone I’m a top contender,” dos Anjos said. “I’ve been working hard for that. I didn’t want to lose the chance. I have the best corners in the world and a great team. My thought was, ‘I can’t miss this opportunity. I’m going to beat this guy.”
The trend of new talent continued elsewhere on the card, recently crowned Ultimate Fighter season 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum among them. He had heard it over and over, that what he did on the show didn’t matter, that the bright lights of the big arena could change things. But he just keeps winning.
Gastelum, now a member of the main roster, hammered Brian Melancon in his first post-TUF tourney fight, knocking him down with an uppercut before finishing with a rear naked choke at 2:26 of the first round.
The 21-year-old continues to defy his age and inexperience, showing patience before finding the opening, and quickly pivoting to take Melancon’s back. He’s now 7-0 as he continues his upward climb.
“I don’t know where everybody puts me, whether they pick me as a favorite or underdog,” he said. “I just know that I come into this fight, into every fight thinking the same thing: I’m going to knock him out or submit him.”
In a bout that featured two former TUF winners, Court McGee scraped past Robert Whittaker in a split-decision, 30-27, 29-28, 27-30. The bizarre scores were the result of a bout where judges were left to determine whether McGee’s volume was worth more than Whittaker’s accuracy. McGee landed 99 total strikes to Whittaker’s 49, but Whittaker landed the more damaging strikes overall.
McGee (16-3) notched his second straight win since moving to welterweight, while Whittaker is now 11-3.
The evening also saw the eight-fight win streak of Erik Perez snapped, as he fell to Takeya Mizugaki in a split-decision, 29-28, 29-28, 28-29.
According to the final stats, Mizugaki out-landed Perez 59-49 overall, and he did the more visible damage, bloodying Perez’s nose early on. Mizugaki also had a late rear naked choke attempt that appeared to put Perez (13-5) in some jeopardy, but he was able to escape and fight to the final horn.
Mizugaki has now won three straight to improve to 18-7-2.
In the FOX Sports 1 opener, Brad Tavares outlasted Bubba McDaniel to take a 29-28, 29-28, 29-28 unanimous decision. According to FightMetric stats, Tavares (11-1) landed more than double than McDaniel in significant strikes, 30-14, but had to survive a rough third-round that saw McDaniel control him on the ground for over three minutes.
Among the night’s early highlights, UFC newcomer Brandon Thatch lent some serious credibility to the “prospect” tag he’s received, knocking out Justin Edwards in 83 seconds.
The win was the ninth consecutive first-round finish for the welterweight, who is now 10-1.
The show’s opener ended in some controversy when the bout between Roger Bowling and Abel Trujillo was ruled a no contest. The ruling came after Trujillo threw two knees against a downed Bowling, at least one of which landed to the head. Referee Rob Hinds declared the foul unintentional, but Bowling was clearly hurt, falling down after initially trying to get to his feet, and after assessing him, the cageside doctor would not allow him to continue. Both Bowling and Trujillo protested the call, but it stood. Later, Dana White said he’d watched a super slow-motion replay that showed the knee was legal, and said he would pay Trujillo his win bonus as a result.
Carlos Condit def. Martin Kampmann via TKO, Rd. 4 (0:54)
Rafael dos Anjos def. Donald Cerrone via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Kelvin Gastelum def. Brian Melancon via rear naked choke submission, Rd. 1 (2:26)
Court McGee def. Robert Whittaker via split decision (30-27, 27-30, 29-28)
Takeya Mizugaki def. Erik Perez via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
Brad Tavares def. Bubba McDaniel via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Dylan Andrews def. Papy Abedi via KO, Rd. 3 (1:32)
Brandon Thatch def. Justin Edwards via TKO, Rd. 1 (1:23)
Darren Elkins def. Hatsu Hioki via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Jason High def. James Head via mounted guillotine choke submission, Rd. 1 (1:41)
Zak Cummings def. Ben Alloway via D’arce choke submission, Rd. 1 (4:19)
Roger Bowling vs. Abel Trujillo ends in no contest due to illegal knee, Rd. 2 (4:59)
Fight of the Night: Condit vs. Kampmann
KO of the Night: Brandon Thatch
Submission of the Night: Zak Cummings