Fight Ink: Carlos Condit roars about his lion inspired tattoo

The king of the UFC jungle 

Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

"A lion still has claws, and mine are long and sharp, my lord – as long and sharp as yours"

~ "The Rains of Castamere" A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

UFC 171’s Carlos Condit has been a big fan of tattoos since he was a teenager, but fighting constantly without much of a break never yields much time to sit down in a chair for multiple hours on end and then allow a newly inked tattoo the proper time to heal.  Still, Condit has managed find time to get a few pieces completed including the sprawling lion tattoo he has on the right side of his body, encasing his rib cage from top to bottom.

Time spent in the chair:

"I think they were so far, and I think I’m probably going to do a little bit more work on it, but so far I think I’ve sat two six-hour plus sessions," Condit said.

Inspiration for the artwork:

"The lion just kind of represents magnanimity and the dominance over his realm," Condit said.  "The cliche ‘heart of a lion’, all of those things that are accredited to a lion.  I really like the picture itself is from a sculpture from the 16th or 17th century, I think the sculpture is in the Vatican.

"Basically we found the picture, we wanted a statuesque picture, like a statue of a lion and then we turned it into a tattoo."

A little bit of research shows that the sculpture Condit is referencing is the lion statue sitting at St. Peter’s Basilica in a monument tomb for Pope Clement XIII.  The piece was done by Antonio Canova, who worked on the piece from 1783-1792. 

Condit’s lion 

The Lawsuit:

For those unaware, Condit’s lion tattoo actually ended up as part of a lawsuit filed by the artist who did the work for him after the finished product was featured in the THQ game UFC Undisputed.  Christopher Escebedo filed a lawsuit in 2012 and continues to fight in appeals court today trying to get a judge to side with him over copyright laws.  The suit alleges that the artwork used in the video game is intellectual property of the artist and he should be compensated for his work being displayed.

A judge originally ordered that Escobedo be paid $22,500, which is the same amount that Condit was paid for his part in the game.  Escobedo is continuing with the lawsuit in bankruptcy court after THQ went belly up recently, but needless to say all of this is happening without Condit’s consent.

"I was pretty upset and disappointed. Him and I had these agreements, and he just kind of came out of left field with that (lawsuit)," Condit said.  "I guess he saw some dollar signs.  Initially he had been really excited that his tattoo was in the video game, he was kind of using that for publicity for himself, which was kind of the idea, which is cool, right on.  Get more buzz around your art and tattoo business.

"I guess when he figured ‘hey maybe I could go make some money another way off of it’ he went for it."

Condit plans on having more work done on the lion at some point down the road, but he guarantees the tattoo gun applying the ink won’t be held by Escobedo.

"Yeah, without a doubt (I’ll be going to a different artist)," Condit said.

Next piece:

Condit would love to get more work done on his body, but it’s always a matter of timing.  A fresh tattoo needs constant care and upkeep to ensure the integrity of the piece holds up, while also realizing that it needs plenty of time to heal.  Considering Condit is always sparring or grappling and he would need to stop that for at least a week or two while the tattoo heals, it’s not a time he’s willing to sacrifice unless he’s already on vacation from the fight game.

"I imagine I would have more if I wasn’t in the sport that I’m in," Condit said.  "It’s hard to get a tattoo and give it the time that it needs to heal in between trying to get ready for fights and train.  I would probably have more if I wasn’t having to roll around and train all the time."