MMA Today: Carlos Condit ready for fight with Nick Diaz

Feb 2 2012 - 7:57pm

For Carlos Condit, the waiting is finally over.

Condit saw his opportunity to fight for a title in the Ultimate Fighting Championship change several times over the past six months, due primarily to the antics of Nick Diaz and the health of Georges St. Pierre.

The posturing comes to an end, however, on Saturday night when Condit fights Diaz for the interim UFC welterweight championship in the main event of "UFC 143," which will be held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas and air live on pay-per-view at 10 p.m. EST.

"The fight with Nick Diaz is a great fight," said Condit, a 27-year-old native of Albuquerque, N.M. "It's for the interim belt. It's a huge opportunity. On the other hand, I was a little bit skeptical. After everything that had happened, I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop."

Condit, a former World Extreme Cagefighting welterweight champion, was initially slated to fight former champion B.J. Penn in October. After Diaz failed to live up to his media responsibilities, Condit replaced him in the main event of "UFC 137" against St. Pierre. A knee injury sidelined St. Pierre, and Condit did not fight on the card and was promised the next fight.

The plans were altered when Diaz publicly insulted St. Pierre, who lobbied for a change in opponents. Diaz and St. Pierre were set to meet Saturday, but St. Pierre's knee injury worsened, which finally gave Condit his chance.

"It has been pretty crazy, man," said Condit, 12-1 in his last 13 fights and 27-5 overall. "It has been a lot of excitement, some letdowns. But, I'd say for the most part, I've done a good job staying focused on what I need to do, which is be prepared for whoever I ended up fighting."

Diaz, a 28-year-old California native, enters on an 11-fight winning streak and with a record of 26-7 with a no-contest. He is regarded as one of the top boxers in MMA.

"He definitely has really good hands," Condit said. "I think he puts himself in danger a lot. In some of his recent fights, he's paying for it. ... He's probably the best boxer in the welterweight division. I feel like I have some pretty good striking, and I will at least be able to match his skills."

"UFC 143" will also feature heavyweights Roy Nelson and Fabricio Werdum; welterweights Josh Koscheck and Mike Pierce; bantamweights Renan Barao and Scott Jorgensen; and middleweights Ed Herman and Clifford Starks.

The preliminaries, which air live on FX at 8 p.m., include: featherweights Dustin Poirier and Max Holloway; welterweights Matthew Riddle and Jorge Lopez; bantamweights Alex Caceres and Edwin Figueroa; and welterweights Matt Brown and Chris Cope. Two additional preliminary fights -- welterweights Dan Stittgen and Stephen Thompson; and middleweights Rafael Natal and Michael Kuiper -- will air at www.facebook/UFC/ at 7 p.m.

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Bellator Fighting Championships announced the cards for its first two shows of its sixth season.

The season opens March 9, a week later than originally announced, at The Venue at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind. The opening card will feature Joe Warren's featherweight-title defense against 2011 summer-series winner Pat Curran and this season's featherweight quarterfinals.

On March 16 at the Horseshoe Casino Riverdome in Bossier City, La., heavyweights Eric Prindle and Thiago Santos will fight to determine the season-five tournament victor. The duo fought to a no-contest in November after Santos kicked Prindle in the groin. Season six's middleweight quarterfinals will also be on the card.

Rashad Evans and Chael Sonnen each won their respective fights Saturday night to secure future title fights. Evans, who defeated Phil Davis via a unanimous decision, will challenge UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones on April 21 in Atlanta. Sonnen, who earned a unanimous decision over Michael Bisping, is slated to face UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva later this year.

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All potential new additions to the UFC and Strikeforce rosters will now be subject to a mandatory pre-contract screening for performance-enhancing drugs. The policy went into effect Jan. 1.

Athletes on the organizations' rosters will continue to be screened for performance-enhancing drugs before competition and be subject to random screenings. Participants on "The Ultimate Fighter" are screened before their appearance on the show.

"We're committed to the health and safety of our athletes and we take it very seriously," UFC Chairman-CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said. "We already work closely with athletic commissions to protect our athletes, and now we're taking it one step further. We're going to test any potential UFC or Strikeforce fighter before finalizing their contract. This shows that we don't want performance-enhancing drugs in our sport."

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