Carlos Condit doesn't usually have a problem with focus or motivation. Even so, when he enters the Octagon in Indianapolis on Wednesday night for the main event on Fox Sports 1 and sees Martin Kampmann across from him for a second time, he'll have every reason to raise his typical intensity up another notch.
That's because Condit (28-7, 5-3 in the UFC) finds himself in an unusual position, having lost two consecutive fights for just the second time in his pro career. While there's no shame in either of those defeats—decision losses to UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre and current top contender Johny Hendricks, both of which earned Fight of the Night nods—he's suddenly in danger of falling out of the title picture.
There's a personal aspect as well, since Kampmann (20-6, 11-5 UFC) gave Condit a rude welcome to the UFC back in April 2009. In a close fight decided by a single point, Condit had to hustle to escape multiple submission attempts, and he was ultimately grounded and worn out in the final round to drop a split decision.
Aside from their evenly fought first meeting, both men are true dual threats who are equally likely to win by KO or submission. Condit has height and reach advantages and an edge in the crispness of his striking, but he wasn't able to make any of those work for him last time. He also has experience going five rounds, while Kampmann has yet to go past the 15-minute mark.
Condit has the confidence of the Las Vegas oddsmakers, who have him pegged as a fairly sizable favorite. He'll need to control the action instead of being controlled, something that won't be easy against an opponent equally determined to stay in the hunt at 170. But he's not nicknamed the "Natural Born Killer" for nothing, and if he falters again, it won't be for a lack of fire.
Fox Sports 1 will televise five other fights on the main card from Bankers Life Fieldhouse:
Though both men are top-10 caliber lightweights, they've experienced very different fates since joining the UFC. Cerrone won his first four fights in the promotion but has gone just 3-2 since, while dos Anjos stumbled to a 4-4 mark before catching fire and ripping through four straight victories.
Fans can count on Cerrone to fight in crowd-pleasing fashion, but the "Cowboy" will have to watch out for dos Anjos' dangerous ground game. He has the advantage if he keeps the fight a striking battle, so the big question will be whether he's mentally locked in—no guarantee since the fallout from an assault charge in June has yet to come down.
Gastelum may have won the most recent American season of "The Ultimate Fighter," but his victory over Uriah Hall is looking less impressive now that Hall has struggled. He'll get a chance to show his stuff at welterweight after feeling too small at 185.
The 21-year-old Gastelum may catch a break as his Paulo Thiago was forced to drop out due to injury and was replaced by the less experienced Melancon. Then again, Thiago had lost four of his last six and Melancon looked decent enough knocking out Seth Baczynski in his UFC debut last month, so there's no guarantee he'll have an easier night.
Another former "TUF" winner, McGee made a successful move to welterweight with a decision victory over Josh Neer in February. His calling card has been his versatile submission offense, but it was his striking that won the day against Neer.
Whittaker entered the UFC through an international edition of "TUF," and he's still a work in progress at just 22 years old. Three of his last four wins have come by KO, so McGee will have to be wary of his heavy hands.
Perez's rise to possible prominence in the bantamweight division was sidetracked after an injury prevented him from competing at UFC 159. This will be his first fight in 2013, and he'll hope to carry in some momentum after winning his first three UFC bouts.
Mizugaki was incredibly consistent during both his WEC and UFC stints, alternating wins and losses from 2008 through late last year. His breakthrough finally came against Bryan Caraway in March, giving him a rare winning streak. He's been in with the likes of Urijah Faber and Brian Bowles, and while he doesn't look like an elite talent, he should give Perez a bit of a measuring stick.
According to the oddsmakers, this opener should be a mismatch, with Tavares the biggest favorite on the main card. He's considered a guy who has all the tools to keep climbing the ranks, yet he hasn't always put them all together in emphatic fashion, earning four decisions against just one stoppage in the UFC so far—and even the one KO was dubious since it came against the infamous Phil Baroni.
For McDaniel to pull off the upset, he'll have to remain calmer than he normally fights and try to get things to the ground. He has a full complement of submissions, but Tavares is no slouch in that department either, making this appear to be an uphill battle for "Bubba."
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