GLENDALE — Carlos Condit didn’t look like himself when he fought Neil Magny at UFC 219. He didn’t feel like himself either.
Condit returned from a self-imposed 16-month layoff last December and met Magny in a bout that was more akin to a sparring match than the sort of murderous contest “The Natural Born Killer” built his reputation upon. Over the course of three sluggish rounds, Condit was ultimately never able to get out of first gear, connecting with only 37 significant strikes en route to a decision loss. Afterward, he admitted that he felt ring rust in the fight.
It’s part the reason why Condit accepted an immediate turnaround against a tenacious brawler like Matt Brown for UFC on FOX 29 — to wash the bad taste out of his mouth after a performance that Condit says “kinda sucked.” And although Brown ended up dropping out with a knee injury, Condit’s replacement opponent Alex Oliveira is no different. Condit fully expects Oliveira to ignite his old fire in ways Magny didn’t.
“In the [Magny] fight, it was odd,” Condit said Wednesday at UFC on FOX 29 open workouts. “I felt super lazy and lackadaisical, and I didn’t realize it until I was kind of in the midst of the fight, that I was like, I just kinda didn’t have — I don’t know. I don’t know what it was.
“Obviously it wasn’t a great fight for me, and I don’t feel like I was myself, and I’m really looking forward to this fight, getting out there and being myself again.
“Proximity to danger definitely brings out the best in me,” Condit added. “If it’s somebody who’s, like, threatening my safety and well-being, it definitely I think brings the tiger out. And Matt was that fight, and I think the fight with ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira will be that as well.”
Condit, 33, actually would have fought again sooner if it were up to him. He said he wasn’t injured or even really damaged after the Magny fight, but Brown wanted the April 14 date, so Condit went along with it. Now that UFC on FOX 29 is here, though, Condit said he feels like a different man compared to individual who couldn’t get started at UFC 219.
Back then, “The Natural Born Killer” was almost caught in limbo. His 16-month layoff effectively served as a semi-retirement. For a stretch, it was unclear if he would ever fight again. But once the disappointment of his Magny performance buried its claws deep within him, Condit hit his most recent camp at JacksonWink with a fervor he couldn’t reach for UFC 219. Now he feels ready to turn back the clock at Glendale’s Gila River Arena.
“A lot of it was in the preparation,” Condit said. “I put in a legit serious camp and I feel like I’m all-in. I was all-in in training camp. Like, I really, really pushed hard. In the past I’ve had really big fights, put in really, really hard training camps. And this last one [against Magny], I trained hard, but I don’t think that I — I don’t know, I wasn’t all-in.
“In training, in my preparation, in my mindset, I’ve been all-in for this fight since the beginning, so I think that’s part of it.”
While it’s rare to hear a fighter admit that they approached an event with one foot out the door, Condit thinks he knew the truth of how he felt before he ever stepped foot inside the Octagon against Magny.
“I think part of me realized it,” Condit admitted.
“Part of me knew it, I think, subconsciously maybe.”
Condit expects better from himself at UFC on FOX 29. The man who has finished an astounding 28 of his 30 professional victories wants to return to his old ways.
Even still, when it comes to his career, much remains in the air.
In December, fresh off talks of retirement, Condit refused to say whether he was back for good or if Magny would be a one-off. Today, nothing has changed.
The here and now is what’s important to Condit; not the long-view.
“It’s kinda cliché, but I’m focused on this one. Like, this is what I got in front of me right now, and I don’t know. I feel good,” Condit said. “I mean, I felt good in training camp, my body feels good, so we’ll just have to see how it goes.”