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UFC 143 Striking Breakdown: Nick Diaz vs. Carlos Condit

Nick Diaz Carlos Condit UFC 143 poster
(Props: Olieng)

By Jack Slack

The upcoming welterweight tilt between Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit at UFC 143 (February 4th, Las Vegas) is an exciting prospect for casual viewers and passionate fans alike. The match-up will answer no questions about Diaz or Condit’s ability to deal with the great wrestlers of the division — Diaz in fact hasn’t fought a real takedown artist in half a decade — but it promises to be a damn good tear-up. With Georges St. Pierre out of the fight game for a while and an interim title on the line it also provides just what UFC brass has likely been seeking: We will finally see an exciting striker at the top of the welterweight division.

The match is expected to stay on the feet and it is hoped the two men will “bang it out” until one is left standing. Assuming that neither fighter will come out with the plan of exposing the other’s takedown defense, this article examines the assets and deficits in each man’s bag of tricks from the standing position.

Nick Diaz’s Boxing

Much has been made of Nick Diaz’s pugilistic talent, and rightly so. His excellence while boxing against pure strikers over recent years almost excuses the lack of skilled wrestlers on his record in that time. Nick has taken on the likes of Paul Daley, Evangelista ‘Cyborg’ Santos, KJ Noons, BJ Penn, and Marius Zaromskis in striking contests and got the better of all of them through his ferocity, grit and unique style.

Diaz is a prolific volume puncher, having been known to crash the Compustrike computer by throwing over a hundred punches a round. His form is not attractive in that it rarely provides one-punch knockouts, but his straights are uncompromisingly straight, his hooks loop in behind his opponents guard and when he sets his feet he rips terrific punches to his opponents’ torso; unquestionably he is the poster boy for body-punching in the sport.

Nick often attacks almost side-on in an old fashioned boxing stance with his lead foot turned in, allowing him to turn his lead shoulder further towards his opponent and gain a couple more inches on his already considerable reach (a stylistic feature he shares with his younger brother Nate). Often taking a few substantial punches in the opening exchanges, the Diaz brothers seem near impossible to knock unconscious, yet every opponent they face seems to labor under the illusion that they will be the first to do so.

In addition to his brilliant jab and body work, Diaz also draws punches better than any fighter in the sport — sticking his chin out and raising his hands in the taunting posture that has become iconic in MMA fight photography. As soon as his opponents attempt to punch his head he slips or parries and counters with a salvo of his own blows. Factor in Nick’s habit of throwing multiple punches with the same hand consecutively (“doubling up” or “lever punching”), his ability to launch double-digit punch combinations, his range, and his aptitude for changing rapidly from offense to counter-punching, and Diaz’s boxing begins to look more and more like a minefield for Carlos Condit.

What may interest some fans of fight strategy is the question mark over Nick’s ability to take a body shot. The last man to beat him was the lightweight KJ Noons, who had Diaz breathing hard and attempting to fight from the “butt scoot” position through the use of body punches in the opening stanza of their first meeting. Unfortunately this fight was called off due to the cuts which had opened on Nick’s face at the end of the first round and Noons largely neglected body work when they fought for a second time at welterweight, so the question mark over Diaz’s abdomen remains.

Carlos Condit’s Muay Thai

Condit for his part lacks the boxing prowess of Diaz — often allowing his elbows to flare out when on guard or punching, exposing his body — which could be costly against Diaz, but he has crisp combinations and power to his shots. Being a long, lanky fighter, Condit throws his punches in what are best described as “looping straights,” similar to the way Tommy Hearns threw his right hand in an arc to use momentum.

Condit is also the owner of a solid left hook as he demonstrated against Dan Hardy, though it was his attacking of Hardy’s front knee, taking away Hardy’s stance and making him reluctant to be the aggressor which meant Condit could step into punching range and land his power. If Condit has used that win over Hardy to convince himself that his hands are world-class he may run into problems as he finds out just the same way Donald Cerrone did a few weeks back against Nate Diaz that good punching does not equate to good boxing.

Where Condit does excel however is in combining kicks and punches and in throwing his opponents off of their game with his unusual arsenal of techniques. Great grapplers such as Dong Hyun Kim have had trouble with Condit because of his ability to keep them at range and punish them when they step in. His reach is substantial to begin with but he often uses front kicks to establish an even greater distance between himself and his opponent — such as the one he threw at Kim before finishing him with a spectacular flying knee strike.

One of the interesting points coming into this fight is the weakness against low kicks that both the Diaz brothers have show in the past. Evangelista Santos, Hayato Sakurai and Paul Daley use kicks far less commonly than Condit and found great success against Nick Diaz with low kicks before mysteriously abandoning them to swing for Diaz’s head when he taunted them. Several weeks ago, Donald Cerrone, after being beaten savagely in the first round attempting to box with Nate Diaz, showed how effective kicks could be against the Diaz brothers, but also demonstrated the need to commit to them early when he gassed — just as Santos did against Nick Diaz.

The front-foot-turned-in stances that the brothers present mean that they are particularly vulnerable to kicks to the outside of the leg, rather than the inside. As southpaws, kicking the outside of their lead leg requires the opponent to use his lead leg, just as Fedor Emelianenko did to break Jeff Monson’s leg in November, and this would be a good strategy for Condit to follow. His push kick to the knee may also buckle Nick’s leg inward while preventing Nick from entering punching range, and it would be sensible for Condit to commit to this from the beginning in an attempt to slow Diaz down and limit engagements. When he does find himself in punching range it is in his interest to immediately attempt a Thai Plum or neck clinch in order to prevent Diaz’s combination punching and enable himself to land the clinch knees that have changed the course of so many of his matches.

The Bottom Line:

Carlos Condit is not going to be able to knock Nick Diaz out with pure punching any more than Paul Daley, Cyborg Santos, or Scott Smith could. However, if he combines his biting kicks (particularly his push kick to the knee) with punching combinations, and never attempts to engage Diaz in prolonged exchanges, instead choosing to tie him up or circle out, he may be able to strike his way to a decision or even stop Nick with a high kick or knees.

For Nick Diaz the game plan is clear — get close enough to volume punch against a taller opponent with an identical reach, a challenge he has never faced before. He must convince Condit to meet him in punching range (and his gamesmanship has proven to be up to the task before) or push Condit backwards to prevent him from kicking. Donald Cerrone had so much trouble kicking in the second and third rounds against Nate Diaz even though it was having an effect simply because it is impossible to kick with power while backing up, and eating any amount of punches is detrimental to a fighter’s discipline and wind. If Diaz can begin to back up Carlos Condit by the end of round one, we are unlikely to see Condit reverse the momentum of the fight in the second or third round.

Jack Slack is an author for and blogs at where he breaks down striking technique in boxing, kickboxing and MMA.

Cagepotato Comments

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lenkani- January 31, 2012 at 11:05 pm
I really want to watch this fight. I just know a few sites where the event will be shown. I think Ustream has a ppv version. Justin has some channels. has a good feed.
niki- January 22, 2012 at 6:53 pm
Nick Diaz should be able to win based on his cardio and continuous punch output. Condit is no slouch and his kicks scare me. If he can keep Diaz off of him and get in a few good leg kicks to the head to rock Diaz, he's got a chance. The problem is Diaz has a great chin. Maybe the best path would be for Condit to try to chop out Nicks wheels so he can't throw as many or as hard with his volume punching. If Nick gets too brave, too early, and tries to walk through the Condit power and take the attitude two to give one, he may get caught. For that strategy to work, he has to get Carlos tired first. On the ground, Diaz wins all day!!! Diaz in the 4th, TKO, or wins a decision based on cardio and sheer number of punches.
niki- January 22, 2012 at 6:40 pm
In response to the post by "WARBONG" on 1/17, shown below. Are you 12 years old or what? Are you inbetween bong hits or just frustrated with life? How about to try to discuss a topic as an adult and add your thoughts without acting like a 4th grader that just learned his first new swear words!!! (SEE WARBONG'S POST BELOW)!!!


Tue, 01/17/12 - 08:15

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah…WAR FUKIN DIAZ!

but yeah, Carlos is a bad mother fuker too…this is gonna be a MOTHER FUKIN WAR…like fight of the mother fukin year WAR…YYYEAHHHHH!!!

towelie- January 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm
you ever fought in the UFC...ON WEEEEED!?
ronburgundy- January 18, 2012 at 12:30 am
fuck this xeno motherfucker knows nothing about nothing, go away
Get Off Me- January 17, 2012 at 8:34 pm
Check out the gambling addiction enabler. I've been giving away money for quite some time now with picks.
eatthecage- January 17, 2012 at 6:13 pm
Even with the error, Jack Slack knows his stuff. Its dudes like that that crush parlay cards. Gamble if you don't already... feel free to share insight when you do haha
XENOPHON- January 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm
@ Jack Slack - go take a smoke break. I did think you meant "elbows to flare out when on guard"
You really don't know what a deck is? In the military the ground (floor) is often refereed to as the deck. Such as the deck of a ship.
Your best bit of critical analysis was this:
If Condit has used that win over Hardy to convince himself that his hands are world-class he may run into problems as he finds out just the same way Donald Cerrone did a few weeks back against Nate Diaz that "...good punching does not equate to good boxing."

@ MoJO - your my hero. I owe you one "free pass."
Jack Slack- January 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm
Apologies folks, I did realise this was a 5 round fight, I just wrote 2nd and 3rd from habit.

So to correct; if Condit backs up in the first I doubt he'll recapture momentum in any of the subsequent rounds.
frenger- January 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm
cheers for the article, nice work
elburrogrande- January 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm
"If Diaz can begin to back up Carlos Condit by the end of round one, we are unlikely to see Condit reverse the momentum of the fight in the second or third round."

good read except the author ended it thinking it was a 3 round fight. He needs to reevaluate his analysis for a 5 round fight.
Mofo- January 17, 2012 at 2:44 pm
Jack for me the most interesting comments in the article were about the lead foot being sideways. Hadn't really thought about that before, though as soon as you said it I was like "yeh THAT'S what's so weird about their stance".
Jack Slack- January 17, 2012 at 1:52 pm
Ah sorry folks! Coulda made that clearer I suppose...
Mofo- January 17, 2012 at 1:49 pm
Xeno he's talking about when a striker lets their elbows flare out while standing, instead of keeping a "number eleven". He's not talking about throwing bows on the ground.
Jack Slack- January 17, 2012 at 1:48 pm
Yeah I searched the article for references to elbows... what on earth does "what about when they get intertwined on the deck and start rolling aroun
Is Condit a threat to Diaz, or is it the opposite way around?
You mentioned elbows, but that was it?" mean? Condit could try to land some standing elbows I suppose... but I still fail to see what you're getting at.

Jack Slack
XENOPHON- January 17, 2012 at 1:41 pm
@Jack Slack Says:
"...often allowing his elbows to flare out when on guard or punching, exposing his body..."
Please reread - Carlos Condit’s Muay Thai, first couple sentences.
That one gets a "D-" bro...
Mofo- January 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm
Xeno - I withrdaw my ball-busting. Any time you want to give crap to someone who does nothing but complain about CP I'm in agreement.
BryanF- January 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm
then placed an attack on his crack, like THAT!
rophelius- January 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm
This article is well written and was fun to read.

Thank you, Author!
RSparrow- January 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm
Jumping jack slack mounted xenos back...
Jack Slack- January 17, 2012 at 12:15 pm
Cheers folks,

Xenophon, I don't think I mentioned anything about elbows. The reason I didn't mention what would happen on the ground is because this is a stand up analysis.

It could well turn into a stalling contest or a Jiu Jitsu war, but I know far less about those elements.

Jack Slack
XENOPHON- January 17, 2012 at 11:55 am
Id tell you if there was one.
What conspiracy is this?
My boy "dude Says" hates every post, now suddenly he is giving out "A+" on Jack Flashes first assignment.
Its not like him....I can see that, can't you?
Mofo- January 17, 2012 at 11:30 am
What gives? It's another conspiracy Xeno!
RwilsonR- January 17, 2012 at 11:26 am
I do think it needs to be pointed out that Diaz was basically outstruck by a lot of hose opponents you mention, in both power and technique, but overcame it due to cardio and just a solid chin. You addressed his chin, but not that Noons (first time, in shape), BJ, and even Daley were certainly getting the better of Diaz before cut stoppage, lazy cardio, or stupid game planning lost out for each of them. While Diaz is good at finding his mark, he does leave himself a pretty open target.
XENOPHON- January 17, 2012 at 11:08 am
Dude your a push over.
You never like anyone's articles and complain all the time...not your soft for Jumping Jack Flash - what gives?