SPORTS

Condit sheds a tear then hops on a flight as he prepares for St-Pierre

09/08/2011 06:13 EDT | Updated 11/08/2011 05:12 EST
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - About the same time Nick Diaz was learning how much his missed flights would cost him Wednesday afternoon, Carlos Condit was doing everything he could to jump a plane to Las Vegas to help promote his new fight against Georges St-Pierre at UFC 137.

Unlike whatever unknown reason (Diaz posted a short YouTube clip Wednesday apologizing that he didn't make the "beauty pageant") that kept Diaz away from the biggest fight — and payday — of his life, the only reservations Condit had in quickly returning UFC president Dana White's phone call offering the bout — was he first had to wipe away some tears.

"It was a little embarrassing cause I was actually crying there in front of everyone," said Condit — who was eating at one of his favorite restaurants, the Flying Star in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after a morning training session — when he learned he would replace Diaz on the Halloween Weekend show in Las Vegas.

"I called my dad (Brian) first thing. He's been my biggest supporter in my career," continued Condit, who quickly tried to book the first flight he could to Vegas, where he arrived about 6:30 p.m. PST and went straight to UFC studios to do promotional shoots and interviews.

Much like the shock that St-Pierre (22-2 MMA record) exhibited on Tuesday and Wednesday when Diaz no-showed media conferences in both Toronto and Las Vegas, Condit (27-5) can't comprehend while the 28-year-old Stockton, Calif. fighter would pass up such an important career opportunity.

"I don't know what Nick's mindset is, and I'm not gonna sit here and pretend that I do, but it blows me away that he blew this unbelievable opportunity because he simply didn't want to talk to people," Condit said Thursday during a media gathering at the Four Seasons hotel.

"Some of the press said earlier that he could have came here, thrown his hoody over his head and gave everybody the finger and he still would have had the fight. I don't care what you do for a living. If you don't show up to do you're job, you're gonna get fired. And that's what happened."

While Diaz's loss was Condit's gain, the 27-year-old Albuquerque native in no way feels he backed into his championship opportunity.

"I earned it. No matter what happened with Diaz and that whole thing, I think that I'm legitimately the No. 1 contender, and I've earned this shot," said the former WEC champ, who has won 12-of-13 fights — including four straight wins and impressive finishes over Dong Hyun Kim, Dan Hardy and Rory MacDonald in his last three bouts.

Condit certainly couldn't have predicted the turn of events that took place to land him his title tilt, but even before he began training for B.J. Penn for their scheduled UFC 137 bout on Oct. 29, Condit wanted to keep himself in championship-level shape.

"After my fight with Dong Hyun Kim, I told my manager, 'I'm going to get right back into the gym; something might happen, Diaz might get hurt,'" Condit said. "I just kind of said it in passing, and this is how it turned out. Sometimes you've just got to roll with it and take life as it comes.

"I'm really excited about this opportunity. I think I've been preparing for this my whole life."

And he knows that he's preparing for one of the most dominant champions in UFC history with the 30-year-old St-Pierre, who has won nine straight fights in the Octagon dating back to April 2007.

"It's a tough puzzle to solve honestly," Condit said, of trying to game plan for GSP. "He's got great striking, his explosiveness, his ability to close distance not only with strikes, but to use his takedowns to impose his wrestling.

"I don't know. Honestly I'm going to have to sit down and talk to my trainer's and figure out how we're going to pull this off."

But Condit's trainer - the famed Greg Jackson - who also is St-Pierre's main man, publicly stated Thursday that he won't corner either fighter.

"Since I've been at Jackson's, he (St-Pierre) hasn't been there a whole lot, and when he has, we've kind of stayed to our respective sides of the gym. I think that we saw this on the horizon. I definitely did," said Condit, who will train with Mike Winkeljohn and Chris Luttrell.

"There will be some adjustments, but I've trained with Chris Luttrell for years and years and years — since I was a teenager. I feel like I'm in great hands. We're going to do what we need to do to be prepared for this fight."

St-Pierre promised the same on Wednesday, despite the shortened seven-week training camp, and said he believes Condit's diverse style offers a stiffer test than a fight with Diaz would.

"I do believe Carlos Condit is more dangerous than Nick Diaz," St. Pierre said. "If they fought, I would put my money on Carlos Condit, so for me it's a bigger challenge.

"Condit has more power, way more diversity of attack than Nick Diaz has. I think he's going to be a way more dangerous opponent than Nick Diaz."

Condit promised as much Thursday, saying while he has the utmost respect for the 170-pound champ, he can be beaten.

"He's a man. He's a human. He's not invincible. He's not this machine that is untouchable," said Condit of St-Pierre, whose last loss came when he relinquished his welterweight title to Matt Serra at UFC 69 in April of 2007.

"Georges is the biggest star in MMA, and it's an honour to fight him. It's an honor to even be mentioned in the same sentence as Georges, honestly. But I'm trying to cement a legacy. I want to be known as one of the greatest fighters in the world when I'm done with this. This is another step in that direction."

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