UFC 143 Rewind

Published on Feb. 7 at 1:02 p.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

Carlos ‘The Natural Born Killer’ Condit captured the UFC’s interim welterweight title Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, beating Nick Diaz by unanimous decision as a plus-185 underdog in the main event at UFC 143.

BrianEdwardsSports.com scored the fight 48-47 in favor of Condit, giving the new champion Rounds 3, 4 and 5. Two judges had it 49-46 for Condit and the other had it 48-47.

Condit utilized a strategy based on constant movement to avoid prolonged exchanges against the cage with the always-pressing Diaz, who was getting the better of the striking in the first two rounds. In Round 2, a cut opened up under Condit’s right eye.

But in the third stanza, Condit began to find his rhythm. He kept Diaz at bay with an array of kicks and began to land combinations. Diaz remained the aggressor, but he was unable to keep Condit cornered to fire away with strikes.

By the fourth round, it became increasingly evident that Condit’s confidence was growing and his effectiveness was showing with marks on Diaz’s face. To be clear, Condit never had Diaz badly hurt (or vice versa), but Condit’s strikes were accumulating and Diaz obviously wasn’t able to take the fight where he wanted.

Going into the final round, Nick’s brother Nate told him he was ahead 3-1 on the scorecards. However, Nate was wrong about that.

The first 3 ½ minutes of Round 5 appeared to be Condit’s thanks to a greater volume of strikes, but Diaz scored his first takedown of the night with a little more than a minute left. He took Condit’s back and threatened with several submission attempts.

But Condit was able to avoid the choke and escaped the position with about 10 seconds remaining. Condit landed a couple of shots before the bell and then the fighters embraced.

In the aftermath, a frustrated Diaz threatened to retire because of his distaste for the decision. His trainer Cesar Gracie took to the Internet to voice similar complaints. The basic stance of the Diaz camp was that Condit ran for the entire fight.

In Rounds 1 and 2, I’d agree with that assessment. But not the rest of the way when Diaz was mostly frustrated and Condit was in a nice groove of striking, escaping and repeating that same pattern while landing more blows than his counterpart.

In the co-main event, Fabricio Werdum returned to the Octagon for the first time since 2008 and put on an outstanding performance in a unanimous-decision victory over Roy ‘Big Country’ Nelson. Werdum hooked up his backers as a minus-160 ‘chalk.’

Werdum bloodied Nelson in the first round with a series of vicious knees, opening a grotesque cut on Nelson’s forehead that spilled blood on the Octagon for more than 10 minutes. Werdum continued to batter Nelson will knees to the body and face throughout the bout.

The Brazilian won by a 30-27 score on all three judges’ cards.

However, just as he did in his loss to Junior dos Santos, Nelson earned respect galore by once again demonstrating his iron will and granite chin. Nelson took a ridiculous amount of punishment, yet he kept pressing forward and was still throwing big punches to the finish.

Josh Koscheck didn’t get the knockout he was looking for and, in fact, barely escaped with a victory in his split-decision win over Mike Pierce as a minus-260 favorite. The judge had it 29-28 for ‘Kos’ twice, while one judge gave it to Pierce, 29-28.

If Diaz reverses his tune on retirement as expected, Koscheck will most likely be his next opponent unless Dana White decides to give Diaz a rematch with Condit before Georges ‘Rush’ St. Pierre returns from ACL surgery.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

–Nick Diaz was awarded the biggest paycheck at UFC 143, bringing home $200,000. Josh Koscheck got $146,000 thanks to a $73,000 win bonus. Condit earned $110,000 with a $55,000 win bonus. I was a tad surprised to see that Roy Nelson only got $20,000.

–Following his KO loss to Lavar Johnson on the undercard of UFC on Fox 2, heavyweight Joey Cultran was cut by the promotion.

–Bookmaker.com is listing GSP as a minus-350 favorite vs. Condit, who is a plus-270 underdog (risk $100 to win $270).

–Nelson and Werdum won Fight of the Night honors and the accompanying $65,000 bonuses.

–The UFC 143 opener featured the Octagon debut of Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, who won KO of the Night thanks to a gorgeous head kick that finished Daniel Stittgen.

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