By Jaime C. Feal
Carlos Condit used a surprisingly conservative strategy, opting to back up and counter strike for the duration of his interim title bout with Nick Diaz. The strategy proved effective as the judges awarded Condit a controversial unanimous decision. With the win, Condit is now in line for a UFC Welterweight Title Unification bout with Georges St. Pierre later in 2012. On the undercard, Fabricio Werdum made a successful return to the Octagon by unanimously defeating Roy Nelson, and Josh Koscheck escaped with a razor-thin split decision victory over Mike Pierce.
Middleweight Division (185 lbs.):
Ed “Short Fuse” Herman (19-8, 6-5 UFC) vs. Clifford Starks (8-0, 1-0 UFC)
The fighters furiously trade jabs and go to work right away. Herman misses with a right uppercut and gets tagged by a counter straight right from Starks. Herman tries four more right uppercuts but cannot find the mark. Starks clinches Herman and puts his back on the cage. A couple good right hands in the clinch from Starks, utilizing dirty boxing. The fighters separate and trade single jabs, then Starks lands another straight right. Good uppercut, left hook, and knee on the cage from Herman backing Starks up. The fighters again clinch on the cage and are jockeying for position. Two good knees and a right uppercut from “Short Fuse.” Herman working nice strikes in the clinch. Powerful right hand by Starks, which noticeably bothers Herman. The left eye of Herman is beginning to swell up and he shoots for a takedown and gets it. Working in half-guard, Herman is landing light strikes. Starks reverses, and gets on top, beginning to throw ground and pound of his own. Very close fight. 10-9 Round for Starks.
Herman presses forward and gets popped with another straight right for his efforts. Herman throws a right leg kick, and slips and falls onto his back. Starks lets him back up. Herman clinches with Starks and employs a beautiful trip takedown into side control. Herman immediately transitions into full mount. As Starks tries to reverse Herman deftly takes his back and locks in a body triangle. After a brief struggle for wrist control, Herman slips in a rear naked choke and forces Starks to tap.
Ed “Short Fuse” Herman wins by Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) at 1:43 of Round 2.
Bantamweight Division (135 lbs.):
Renan Barao (27-1, 2-0 UFC) vs. Scott “Young Guns” Jorgensen (13-4, 2-0 UFC)
The bantamweights touch gloves and begin bobbing on their feet looking to strike. Nice right head kick to star by Barao. Good outside leg kick by Barao. Spinning back kick to the body pushes Jorgensen back to the cage. The fighters clinch but separate. Good, stiff jab by Barao stops “Young Guns” in his tracks. Barao, the training partner of Jose Aldo, looking like a 135 pound version of Aldo right now. Another right outside leg kick by Renan Barao. Jorgensen tries to push forward but looks tentative, and eats another leg kick. Nice jab by Jorgensen but gets countered by a left hook. Snapping right leg kick by Barao. Jorgensen clinches Barao to the cage but quickly gets spun. Beautiful spinning back kick to the face by Barao. Didn’t land with full impact but great technique. Nice right and left hand by Barao. 10-9 Round for Barao.
Barao again attacking with a kicking arsenal, using his legs to keep good distance. Another stiff jab by Barao pops Jorgensen’s head back. Good leg kick from Barao.Nice left hook by Jorgensen. Barao pressing forward dictating the pace, lands a good right hand and spinning back kick to the body. Jorgensen shoots for a takedown and gets stuffed, winding up on his back. Barao in half guard. Jorgensen regains full guard and eventually is able to stand and escape. The pace has slowed after the ground battle. Another spinning back kick to the body by Barao. 10-9 Round for Barao.
Jorgensen looking to amp up the energy to start the round but cannot find Barao. Jorgensen with a good right hand, but then eats a one-two from Barao. Jorgensen still pressing forward, lands a straight right. Good counter left hook from Barao. Flying knee attempt from Barao. The fighters pawing at each other with punches as the pace slows again. Outside leg kick from Barao. Another outside leg kick takes a toll on Jorgensen’s lead leg. Thirty seconds to go in the fight. Good double jab from Jorgensen. Barao misses a spinning back kick. 10-9 Round for Barao.
The judges scores the fight 30-27, 30-27, and 30-27 for the winner by unanimous decision, Renan Barao.
Welterweight Division (170 lbs.):
Josh “Kos” Koscheck (16-5, 14-5 UFC) vs. Mike Pierce (13-4, 6-2 UFC)
Pierce extends his arm to touch gloves but Koscheck refuses. Pierce shoots for a single but bails after Kos whizzers him. The welterweights are now clinching on the cage grappling for position. Good uppercut and right hand from Pierce on the break. Koscheck pawing with the jab looking to load up on the right hand. Kosheck presses Pierce on the cage but does nothing with the position. Koscheck steps in with a one-two that is blocked by Pierce, then countered nicely with a right hand. Good jab by Pierce pops Koscheck’s head back. Kos takes a look at the clock which shows just over a minute remaining. Pierce shoots for a single but Koscheck defends. 10-9 Round for Pierce.
Nice straight right hand by Pierce. Josh Koscheck seems surprised at Pierce’s stand up skills. Pierce shoots for a single but Koscheck again shows good takedown defense and balance. Stiff jab from Pierce. Another good jab from Pierce, who is now cut on the side of his hairline. Pierce is starting to gush blood from the cut, presumably from a clash of heads. The cut is in a safe spot, however, and it is not obstructing Pierce’s view. Pierce shoots for a takedown but Kos defends. Koscheck is warned for poking as he is not closing his left fist, and Pierce takes a finger to the eye. After the fight resumes Kos shoots for a double and lands it, bringing Pierce down on the cage. Koscheck holds him down for about half a minute and then Pierce stands. After the bell Koscheck is again warned by referee Herb Dean that he is sticking his fingers out. 10-9 Round for Koscheck.
The fighters trade right hands with Kos getting the better of it. Koscheck steps in with a good jab and Pierce responds with the same. Good trip takedown by Pierce who is in Koscheck’s guard. Kos shrimps to the fence and uses it to wall walk back to his feet. Nice elbow by Koscheck as the fighters disengage from the clinch. Koscheck shoots for a single but Pierce defends it. Referee Herb Dean breaks the clinch for inactivity. Koscheck again pokes Pierce in the eye with an open left hand, and the fight pauses as Herb Dean gives Pierce time to recover. Dean gives Koscheck a “last warning” not to poke, but does no deduct a point. Good jab by Pierce. Koscheck with a nice left hook to the body. Kos shoots for a double and lands it at the end of the round. Critical takedown to close the fight. 10-9 Round for Koscheck.
The judges score the fight 28-29, 29-28, and 29-28 for the winner by split decision, Josh Koscheck.
Heavyweight Division (265 lbs.):
Roy “Big Country” Nelson (16-6, 3-2 UFC) vs. Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum (14-5-1, 2-2 UFC)
The fighters touch gloves in a mutual display of respect to begin the contest. Werdum misses a couple kicks early, then grazes Nelson with a knee to the head. Good kick to the body by Werdum. “Vai Cavalo” kicks out the leg of Nelson, then expertly jumps on his back. Werdum immediately body triangles Nelson, and is looking for a submission. Nelson defends and gets up to his feet, showing his prowess on the ground. Werdum Thai clinches Nelson and lands two big knees, one to the head, then one to the body. Nelson trying to battle with uppercuts but is in the Thai Plum right now. Werdum showing nasty Muay Thai right now, landing hard knees to Nelson. Drastically improved stand up from Werdum. Completely controlling Nelson with the Thai clinch, and Nelson is beginning to bleed from the nose. The fight is stopped to check on the cut, and Nelson is deemed able to continue. Good outside leg kick from Werdum. Werdum tries the same kick and “Big Country” counters nicely with a straight right that puts Werdum on his back. “Vai Cavalo” is smiling, inviting his foe into his lethal guard, and Nelson obliges. Werdum looks for a triangle and then an armbar but Nelson defends both. Nelson lets Werdum up and takes more punishment in the form of a kick to the body and another knee to the head. Fabricio misses a spinning wheel kick to close the round, but the mere fact he is attempting such extravagant strikes shows the leaps and bounds he has made in his stand up game. 10-9 Round for Werdum.
Good outside leg kick from Werdum, and a nasty knee staggers Roy Nelson. Good leg kick by Nelson. Nice counter left hook from “Big Country.” Hard leg kick by Werdum. Werdum again looking for the clinch with knees, and lands a couple more. Both fighters take a glance at the clock: 2:23 remaining in the round. Good one-two from Werdum. Nelson looks gassed. Decent body shot by Werdum. Both fighters looking tired. Good right body kick by “Vai Cavalo.” Nelson steps in and lands his biggest punches of the fight, a right-left-right hook combo which has Werdum backing up. Nelson presses but Werdum slips to the side and lands a one-two. 10-9 Round for Werdum.
The heavyweights touch gloves to start the final frame. Werdum paws with the jab. Werdum shoots but is stuffed and Nelson is looking for a standing guillotine. Nelson cranks but abandons the technique. Werdum presses forward nicely with a one-two and a Thai clinch knee. Werdum looks like a completely different fighter standing up. Nice left hand by Werdum. Big right hand and a knee by “Vai Cavalo.” Nelson has taken an enormous amount of punishment and is displaying his legendary chin. Nice front kick by Werdum. Good uppercut from Werdum, completely dominating the fight. Nelson coming forward with a lazy jab. Nice combo to the head from Fabricio. Nice right body shot by Werdum to end the fight. 10-9 Round for Wedum.
The judges score the fight 30-27, 30-27, and 30-27 for the winner by unanimous decision, Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum.
UFC Interim Welterweight Championship (170 lbs.):
Nick Diaz (26-7, 7-4 UFC) vs. Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit (27-5, 4-1 UFC)
Condit starts on his bike and lands a light leg kick. Condit lands another light leg kick but a decent outside leg kick. Diaz coming forward, lands a few punches. Condit back to the light kicks, Diaz tags him with a left. Good one-two by Diaz and then he digs to the body. Diaz walking Condit down, but “The Natural Born Killer” keeps circling away. More leg kicks from Condit while backing and circling away. Nice inside leg kick and right jab from Diaz coming forward, being the aggressor. Diaz now with his hands down eating light leg kicks, and talking smack to his opponent. Condit misses a spinning back fist and Diaz clinches him. A few left hands to the body by Diaz and then a nice one to the head on the break. Big right body shot by Diaz, the crowd reacting to the impact of the shot. Condit lands some more light strikes as Diaz talks some more to close the round. 10-9 Round for Diaz.
The pattern of Condit circling away and landing leg kicks continues. Condit is not coming forward but simply trying to counter Diaz. Condit grazes Diaz with a spinning back fist, but Diaz clinches him and lands a few shots to the body. Diaz has his hands completely down and at the side now, talking loudly and defiantly to Condit. Diaz cocks his head to the side and then comes forward and lands a nice one-two. Condit nods his head and goes back to the leg kicks. Diaz with a counter right hook. Good right kick to the body by Condit. Diaz relentlessly pressing forward. Good right jab by Diaz, then a left to the body and right to the head. Diaz stalking Condit, lands a nice left hook to the body and right to the head. Condit landing some push kicks to keep Diaz away. Right hook to the body by Diaz. Solid right straight digs to the body by Condit, Diaz smiles and taunts him in response. Diaz comes forward, walking Condit down, and lands several hooks in succession to Condit’s ribs. Diaz pressing forward with a right jab, and Condit throwing kicks still. Diaz attempts to clinch but Condit darts away. 10-9 Round for Diaz.
Condit avoids Diaz for the first minute of the round, countering nicely with kicks and punches. Diaz gets Condit against the cage and lands a series of punches, snapping Condit’s head back with a punch. Condit continues to move well, even coming forward now and slightly backing Diaz up. Condit able to avoid Diaz cornering him for the most part. Good body shot by Diaz. Nice leg kick by Condit. And another. Diaz looking frustrated Condit won’t play his game. Diaz talking more to Condit, eats a leg kick and then a combo. Diaz beginning to swell over his right eye, but lands a nice combo to Condit’s head. Good body shot then elbow to the head by “The Natural Born Killer.” Diaz trying to jab to close the round, not really connecting. 10-9 Round for Condit.
Condit continuously on his bike countering. Diaz clinches and tries for a single but Condit defends. Diaz still pressing forward but cannot find Condit this round. Diaz is taunting, trying to get Condit to change his game plan but Condit is having none of it. Condit is peppering Diaz’s legs with kicks. Diaz will not stop moving forward, but he is just eating leg kick after leg kick. Good jab, outside leg kick, and high kick by Condit, all in succession. Diaz again tries for a single but Condit hops out. Condit back to work countering. Good jab by Condit, who may be turning the tide of this fight. 10-9 Round for Condit.
Condit still on his bicycle looking fresh as a daisy, landing kicks. Diaz with a body kick. Diaz on the offensive but missing a lot of punches. Hard to tell what the judges looking for. Diaz presses forward and throws several light left kicks to the body and head, possibly looking to score cheap points. Decent one-two by Diaz. Left straight to the body by Diaz, then misses with some kicks. Very nice leg kick by Condit. Solid combo to the head by Condit, followed by a head kick. Diaz eats a counter left walking in, then clinches with Condit and gets double unders. Condit pushes away and the fighters are back in the center of the cage. Diaz lands a right hook and Condit counters with a knee. With a little over a minute remaining, Diaz takes Condit’s back standing and trips him to the ground. Now in full back control, Diaz body triangles Condit and is looking for the submission. Diaz alternating between armlock attempts and a rear-naked choke. Condit is defending and Diaz switches to an armbar from his back with seconds left but can’t finish him. However, the submission attempts and ground dominance earn Diaz the round. 10-9 Round for Diaz.
The judges score the fight 48-47, 49-46, and 49-46 for the winner by unanimous decision, and the new interim UFC Welterweight Champion, Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit.