Carlos Condit, left, and Robbie Lawler, right, salute the crowd together after their bout. (Photo: @danawhite/twitter)
Written by Faiz Khan
UFC 195 went down Saturday night January 2nd in Las Vegas, marking the first fights of 2016. If you haven’t watched, then stop reading and go watch it now. For those who have, here are my thoughts on an incredible Main Event.
UFC 195’s Main Event just set the bar high for 2016. While the card was packed with some fantastic finishes and some great fights, this piece is about the headlining bout that saw “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler vs. Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit, in a welterweight title fight that had fight of the year written all over it.
Let me first start by saying in this fight, my heart was with Carlos Condit. Condit has been one of my favorite fighters for a long time and, so, Carlos was my pick to win. However, when I analyzed these two fighters, it was clear how unclear who the winner was going to be. All I knew was these were two guys who were going to bring it no matter what and, boy, did they ever deliver.
Robbie Lawler was the Robbie we have grown to love, relying on pure will and any opportunity to unload a heavy shot to end the fight. Carlos Condit was in his finest form, relying on technique and picking his shots economically with high volume. The fight had everything a fight fan wanted; momentum shifts back and forth, both scored a knockdown, but both were always in the fight. Condit was fluid with a masterful display of combinations, peppering Lawler all fight with high volume. Lawler stayed patient and countered with heavy shots, seemingly with more power, usually regaining momentum with flurries pressing Condit against the cage. Condit seemed to be the much more busier fighter, but when Lawler was landing, they looked damaging. Even through 2 on my scorecard, the 3rd Round is the round everybody has been talking about.
The 3rd Round was the most even of the fight. As I watched, I gave the nod to Carlos by volume of strikes as his output was clearly much higher. Some gave the nod to Lawler based on damage, but in my opinion, the way Condit absorbed Lawler’s punches had an effect as well. Lawler absorbs strikes like no one I have ever seen, walking through fire unfazed. He walked through a flying knee to the chin like it didn’t happen. Though Condit may have have had higher output overall, his strikes didn’t seem to have the same effect Lawler’s punches seemed to have on him. Lawler can eat punches and keep moving, while Condit absorbing shots from Lawler stopped him in his tracks. However, it is easy to see how people can see Lawler stealing that 3rd round by power and accuracy, it’s also easy to see Condit winning that round by accuracy and volume. Either way, the fight goes on.
The 4th Round we saw a Carlos Condit clinic, picking Robbie apart for the entirety of the round. Robbie clearly took an economic approach to round 4, but paid for it as Condit was nearing a finish as the round ended. He had the champ rocked after a seamless three punch combination, then unloaded a barrage combinations on the champion in the final minute to end the round.
The 5th round, better yet the “Round that Robbie Built”, saw vintage “Ruthless” turn on the gas, while Condit used his footwork to counter the pressuring Lawler. Condit was still throwing with high volume and looked like he may be on his way to securing a victory, but time was going awfully slow. Ninety seconds left, Lawler started landing big shots that look to wobble Carlos, but “The Natural Born Killer” fired back, staying inside the pocket and not backing down. A flurry back and forth, Lawler threw the kitchen sink at Condit who would not go down. Then, emerged two fighters who could barely lift their arms for the last 30 seconds of the fight. Still, they willed themselves to keep punching no matter what because it is who they are in their most raw and gifted light, fighters. They both left everything they had inside the octagon, ending the fight with an iconic side by side image of the two in pure exhaustion after the final bell. They most likely delivered the best 5th round of all time. While Carlos landed 198 of 504 strikes to Lawler’s 78 of 177, it was Robbie Lawler who squeaked out a split decision win at the end of it all landing at a higher percentage, most likely paired with power getting the nod for two of the three judges.
While many have expressed their dismay with the decision, myself included, the fight was razor thin. However, as I started to think more about the sheer exhilaration the fight gave me, I shifted my focus on what really mattered. It was not about the judges or who won or who lost. Judges are human like everyone else and I am certainly no judge. While on paper it may say Robbie beat Carlos, that doesn’t mean Carlos did not win. He did win. As much as it must hurt for him to fall short. He won. Same goes for Robbie. He won. He went in there and gave it everything he had. What else could I have wanted? It was about two fighters that stayed true to their craft and relied on what got them both there, their love for what they do and their hunger to be the best. Robbie was humble in victory. Carlos was gracious in defeat. The epitome of class and professionalism. There were no losers in that fight.
“There were two winners tonight; and still [Champion], but let’s do it again.” -Robbie Lawler