Like a lot of people, I was disappointed when the proposed fight between Carlos Condit and Matt Brown was canceled. That fight was almost guaranteed fireworks between fighters who love to stand and strike. Now Condit is set to fight Tyron Woodley, and while fireworks aren’t nearly guaranteed in this one, it’s an interesting fight because it has Condit taking on an opponent who can really focus in on Condit’s glaring, giant weakness.
That weakness, of course, is Condit’s takedown defense. I harp on this anytime Condit fights, but he has among the worst takedown defense in the UFC. He’s defended takedowns at a 41 percent rate overall, he’s been taken down 51 times in 15 UFC/WEC fights, and he’s been taken down 25 times in his last three fights. If Condit faces a strong wrestler, then he’s going to get taken down. There’s no way around it.
And while Condit isn’t facing the likes of Johny Hendricks or Georges St-Pierre in this one, he is facing another strong wrestler in Woodley. Overall, Woodley’s takedown numbers are more “good” than “great”: he’s landed 2.2 takedowns per 15 minutes at 42 percent accuracy. He’s not as dominating as some of the opponents Condit has faced before… but his takedowns should still be good enough to control that aspect of the fight.
Normally, a fighter with Condit’s level of takedown defense wouldn’t succeed in the UFC – and most of them don’t. Nobody sees Edwin Figueroa or Tom Watson as top contenders to win the title in their respective divisions. What makes Condit successful despite his horrid takedown defense is his ability to fight off his back. When Condit is taken down, he immediately attacks with submission attempts or sweeps. Even if these techniques aren’t successful, they often create openings for Condit to get back to his feet.
There’s a reason Hendricks had to land 12 takedowns in three rounds, and there’s a reason Martin Kampmann landed four takedowns in the first round against Condit – he kept getting back to his feet. And not only did Condit get back to his feet, he did so without taking much damage on the ground at all.
That’s why I believe Condit is going to win this fight against Woodley. It’s true that Woodley should be able to take Condit to the ground, but if anything, Woodley is less of an attacker on the ground than either Hendricks or Kampmann. Before entering the UFC, Woodley had developed a reputation of being something of a “lay and pray” fighter. It’s possible that he’s developed a better ground and pound attack with experience, but either way, I don’t see him doing much damage to Condit.
And if Condit is able to keep getting back to his feet, he should be able to really exhaust Woodley. Kampmann was gassed out in the second round due to all the times he tried taking Condit down – and Kampmann has never been associated with poor conditioning. Woodley, on the other hand, is a very muscular human being who has a history of getting fatigued later in fights. If he gets too fatigued to take Condit down, then the fight’s over. There’s a reason Condit lobbied for this to be a five-round fight.
As much as I expect Woodley to attack Condit with takedowns, he may decide to keep the fight standing if he’s let knockout victories over Josh Koscheck and Jay Hieron go to his head. If that happens then I expect Condit to methodically pick Woodley apart. One way to know if a fighter is an excellent striker is if he has a positive significant strike differential despite being taken down frequently. That describes Condit perfectly – he has a +1.01 significant strike differential per minute despite all the times his opponents have taken him down. Woodley is the opposite – a -0.08 differential despite normally controlling the takedown game.
With all of that said, it’s still a very tough fight for Condit. The fact of the matter is that judges typically score rounds for the fighter who lands more takedowns. All Woodley likely needs to do in this fight is take Condit down for two rounds and just hold on in the third round. As long as Woodley stays active enough with strikes, that should be enough to win by decision. I think Condit’s overall skill is just enough to overcome Woodley’s wrestling, but it’s very close.
Pick: Carlos Condit by TKO
DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER
I favor Condit but I see this as a 55-45 type of fight. With that in mind, Condit is currently the favorite at -165 with Woodley the underdog at +145. I placed a small bet on Woodley at +155, risking $1.00 to win $1.55 on it. If the price was any worse than that, I probably wouldn’t have put a bet down.