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Debate rages on after Carlos Condit slips past Nick Diaz at UFC 143

Now interim welterweight champion, Condit has choices to make regarding the rest of his year

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Carlos Condit poses for photos after defeating Nick Diaz for the interim welterweight championship Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Condit won a unanimous decision and will likely face Georges St. Pierre in November.

UFC 143 Condit vs. Diaz

Carlos Condit connects with a flying knee to Nick Diaz during their interim welterweight championship bout Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Condit won a unanimous decision and will likely face Georges St. Pierre in November. Launch slideshow »

UFC 143 Werdum vs. Nelson

Roy Nelson and Fabricio Werdum embrace after their heavyweight fight Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Werdum won by decision. Launch slideshow »

Carlos Condit walked to the center of the octagon after UFC 143 with no apprehension regarding the judges’ scores he was about to hear.

Condit thought he beat up Nick Diaz for 25 minutes in Saturday night’s main event and couldn’t imagine the scorecards reading any other way.

They didn’t. The three judges unanimously sided with Condit — by scores of 49-46, 49-46, 48-47 — to give him a decision victory over Diaz for the UFC interim welterweight championship.

“From my standpoint, being in the cage, I didn’t think it was all that close,” Condit said afterwards. “I felt like I dominated almost every round.”

That makes one person at the Mandalay Bay Events Center who felt that way. For almost everyone else, the seconds before cage announcer Bruce Buffer announced the victor were among the most tense ever at a UFC event.

The fight between Condit and Diaz appeared that close. The opinions of media members at the post-fight press conference were split almost dead evenly.

One of the first reporters to ask a question pitched an argument to UFC President Dana White as to why Diaz should have won. Even though White disagreed, he was far from adamant in his belief.

“I had Diaz winning the first two and Condit winning the last three,” White said. “That’s how I scored it.”

“I think this is one of those fights that people scored differently. I think because of the style Condit fought, it was a tough one to score.”

Condit landed more strikes than Diaz, but most of them were leg kicks that seemed to have no effect. Diaz pushed forward for the majority of the night while Condit backpedaled and countered his opponent’s advances.

The strategy worked to perfection in the third and fourth rounds when Diaz couldn’t close the distance. But Condit got off to a slow start in the opening 10 minutes, and Diaz turned the tide with a minute to go in the final round by taking Condit’s back.

Diaz was as confident as Condit that he had won the fight. Diaz was dumbfounded after Buffer read the scores. He said he couldn’t accept the performance as a loss and vowed to walk away from mixed martial arts.

“I don’t need this (expletive),” Diaz said in the octagon immediately after the loss. “I pushed this guy backwards and he ran from me the whole fight, and kicked me with baby leg kicks. That’s the way they want to play this game in here. I’m out of this (expletive).”

As a 28-year old still ranked near the top of the 170-pound division, retirement sounded like an odd choice. Diaz opted against attending the press conference, which left his future plans open for discussion.

White thought Diaz spoke emotionally in the heat of the moment. Once Diaz gets back home to Stockton, Calif. and relaxes, White guessed, he’ll change his mind.

“Nick Diaz is a fighter,” White said. “I don’t think he’s retiring, but who knows? This isn’t one of those sports where you want to be half in, half out.”

There are plenty of questions surrounding the rest of the year for Condit, too. “The Natural Born Killer” will either defend his interim belt or wait for champion Georges St. Pierre to return from ACL surgery.

Condit gave no indication as to which way he favored, but hinted at fighting again earlier in the week. White would support the decision to take another fight.

“If you think you’re the best in the world,” White said, “why not stay active?”

The indecisive nature of UFC 143 left some hollering for an immediate rematch between Condit and Diaz. White wouldn’t totally shoot down the suggestion.

Condit was less receptive to the idea. In his mind, there’s no reason for another go-around with Diaz.

“I won the fight,” Condit said. “I landed more effective strikes than he did in the fight. That’s what it boils down to.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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