Before Nick Diaz fought B.J. Penn, I had Diaz as one of the most overrated fighters in MMA. In SILVA 1.0, Diaz was given mediocre ratings, based on his lack of great opponents. There was some validity in that analysis – Diaz was winning all his fights, but facing opponents like Muhsin Corbbrey, Katsuya Inoue, Scott Smith, and Evangelista Santos. It seemed like a simple equation to me. If Diaz was losing to good fighters like Diego Sanchez and Sean Sherk before, and then beating lower-level opponents in Strikeforce, how did that prove that Diaz could compete against top welterweights in MMA?
Then Diaz shut me up big time by turning B.J. Penn’s face into hamburger. Now, Penn has clearly faded, but nobody has ever out-struck him like Diaz did. I also moved on to SILVA 1.1, which has Diaz as a top five welterweight in MMA. It’s time to give Diaz the respect he deserves as one of the premier welterweights in the sport.
The one question that hasn’t been answered yet is one of how Diaz would perform against a strong wrestler. All of Diaz’s losses in the UFC were to good wrestlers – Sanchez, Sherk, Joe Riggs, and Karo Parisyan. Since leaving the UFC, Diaz has yet to face a wrestler as good as any of those fighters (or judoka in the case of Parisyan). Unfortunately, that question won’t be answered by Carlos Condit.
In 11 fights tracked by Fight Metric, Condit has landed a total of seven takedowns. In MMA terms, he is definitively not a wrestler. Instead, Condit likes to stand and strike with his opponents, and he’s very good at it. Condit has three KO/TKO wins in a row coming in, over previously undefeated Dong Hyun Kim, Dan Hardy, and Rory MacDonald. In addition to the finishing power, Condit is good at striking volume as well, with a margin of +0.95 significant strikes per minute over his opponents.
The problem is that there are few fighters who do striking volume quite like Nick Diaz. Diaz has faced opponents with similar striking margins, and has been able to out-strike every single one of them. Diaz eats a lot of strikes (3.19 per minute), but dishes out far more (6.22). So that’s a margin of +3.03 significant strikes per minute, to be compared with Condit’s +0.95.
Making matters worse for Condit is that Diaz seems to be one of these fighters who doesn’t get knocked out easily at all. There have been a few fighters who are legendary for their ability to take a punch. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mark Hunt, and Wanderlei Silva come to mind. The problem is that, eventually, all of those fighters took enough punishment over time to weaken their resistance to being knocked out. Nogueira and Silva are no longer known for having iron chins, and Hunt was infamously knocked out in 10 seconds by Melvin Manhoef.
Eventually, Diaz will no longer be able to take punches so well, and when that happens, his career is in trouble because the number of strikes he absorbs. But it’s hard to know when that will happen, and if it doesn’t happen against Carlos Condit, then Diaz is the fighter most likely to win by decision or TKO.
SILVA PREDICTION: NICK DIAZ (84.79) OVER CARLOS CONDIT (77.13)
If Carlos Condit wants to win this fight, his best bet is to take Nick Diaz to the ground, and try to win by ground and pound. This is risky, since three of Condit’s five losses are by submission, and Diaz is a very tricky fighter to deal with on the ground. It still seems like a better bet than standing with Diaz, who moves forward and strikes mercilessly until his opponent goes down. History has shown that there’s a certain kind of fighter who can beat Nick Diaz – a strong wrestler. Carlos Condit is a very good fighter, but unless he produces the first-ever KO of Diaz, this is Diaz’s fight to lose.