5 Options for Carlos Condit’s Return to the Octagon

Earlier this week, something amazing happened.

Carlos Condit, a fighter whose future has recently been shrouded in mystery, took to Twitter to tell UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby that he’s ready to fight again – perhaps as soon as December or January.

Condit, as any fight fan knows, is one of the most exciting fighters in the game. On the feet, he is an erratic storm of elbows, knees, punches and kicks—so much so that his opponents might consider sparring with a helicopter blade to prepare for him. He is an incredibly crafty grappler, just as dangerous off his back as he is on top. He backs up his offence with extreme durability and immeasurable grit, as evidenced by the fact that he has never been knocked out in 40 pro fights. Yes, Carlos Condit is an absolute thriller in the cage, and now, after briefly floating the idea of retirement, he’s ready to get back in there.

This begs the question: who does Carlos Condit fight in his return? Well, here are five of the most compelling options.

5: “Platinum” Mike Perry

Photo: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Perry is one of the fastest rising welterweights in the UFC today, having usurped the the number-15 spot in the divisional rankings after just five fights in the organization. He’s also incredibly exciting, having produced all four of his Octagon wins with thunderous knockouts (over game foes in Hyun Gyu Lim, Danny Roberts, Jake Ellenberger, and most recently, Alex Reyes).

The appeal of a fight between Perry and Condit is pretty simple: the likelihood of these two destroyers producing an unforgettable firefight is incredibly high. The arguments against this fight, meanwhile, are also pretty simple. While Perry is just entering the welterweight rankings, Condit has been a part of them for what seems like forever, and has also captured interim gold. So, Perry might not be on his level just yet.

4. Santiago Ponzinibbio

Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Santiago Ponzinibbio recently burst into the welterweight top-10 with a thunderous first-round knockout of the ever-dangerous Gunnar Nelson. While the inadvertent eye-pokes Ponzinibbio landed on Nelson in this fight make his win mildly controversial, it was a very impressive display all the same, and now, he’s ready for a step up. As the division’s seventh-ranked fighter, Condit would be just that.

Furthermore, these two stand out as two of the most venomous strikers in the division, so their combination would certainly be a volatile one. And last but not least, this a fight Ponzinibbio actually asked for after knockout out Nelson, calling out both Condit and Neil Magny.

3. Rafael dos Anjos

After back-to-back lightweight losses to Eddie Alvarez and Tony Ferguson, former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos opted to leave the division behind in search of greener pastures at welterweight. When he announced this plan, fans seemed to be divided on how he’d perform. Now that he’s 2-0 in the division, having recently outpointed Tarec Saffiedine and blown through Neil Magny, there’s no longer any debate. He is one of the best welterweights on earth. As such, he’s now a very compelling matchup for the returning Condit.

As two of the most well-rounded fighters in the division, dos Anjos and Condit could well-produce an unforgettable, back-and-forth war. As two fighters that possess a proven propensity for emphatic first-round finishes, this one could also end quickly. Either way, the fans get the bloodshed they crave.

2. Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Like dos Anjos, Masvidal came to the welterweight division from the lightweight division. And like dos Anjos, he rapidly established himself as a definite fighter to watch at welterweight. Today, he stands out as one of the top fighters in the division, and one that’s likely just a win or two away from a shot at gold.

At present, Masvidal is booked for a UFC 217 scrap with former title challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. A win over Thompson might just launch him into a welterweight title fight with Tyron Woodley. Given that Woodley is inclined to take some time off, however, Masvidal might be forced to take another fight after beating Thompson. Condit would be a fantastic option in that regard.

In fact, Masvidal would remain a fantastic option for Condit even if he loses to Thompson at UFC 217. Really, this is just one of those fights that seems to make sense no matter what the circumstances are.

1. “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler

Photo: Laron Zaugg

What happens when a helicopter blade collides with a wrecking ball? Well, we got a pretty good sense when Carlos Condit and Robbie Lawler battled for the UFC welterweight title in January of 2016. For five, frenzied rounds, the two all-action welterweights went tit-for-tat, bloodying and bludgeoning one another, forcing momentum swing after momentum swing, in one of the greatest fights of all time.

Given how close Lawler and Condit’s title fight was, we probably should have gotten an immediate rematch. For some absolutely baffling reason, however, the UFC elected to deprive fans of this treat. Luckily, the stars are aligning for a Condit-Lawler do-over in 2017.

Lawler recently rebounded from a crushing knockout loss to Tyron Woodley, which marked the end of his title reign, with a close decision defeat of Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. He’s now on the hunt for another win or two with which to reassert himself as the division’s top contender. Condit, meanwhile, is ready to return from a long hiatus, and remind the world of his status as one of the division’s best players.

When Carlos Condit and Robbie Lawler are locked in a steel cage together, the results are unforgettable. We know this because we’ve seen it before. Why not lock them in there together again, and let them duke it out to prove who really belongs at the top of the welterweight rankings?

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