It was time to find out who was the second best welterweight in the world when Nick Diaz faced Carlos Condit in the main event of UFC 143, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on ESPN here in Britain.
The show began in the middleweight division as Ed Herman went up against Clifford Starks.
No feeling out period in this one as these two began brawling straight away, with Starks in particular getting off some good shots, causing some damage to the left side of Herman’s face.
There was a brief trip to the ground at the end of the first, and it was on the ground where the finish came in the second, Herman scoring with the take down with a nice trip, taking Starks’ back and synching in a rear naked choke for the impressive submission win.
It was down to bantamweight for the next fight as Renan Barao faced Scott Jorgensen.
This proved to be a very intriguing battle. Jorgensen came into this fight with a great reputation, but there were times when Barao made him look a bit ordinary, keeping his man at a distance with a series of kicks that staggered Jorgensen quite a few times.
There wasn’t much work on the ground to speak of as Barao easily defended against Jorgensen’s take down attempts, but when Jorgensen pulled guard in the second Barao looked more than capable of dealing with his opponent until Jorgensen got to his feet.
Although Jorgensen looked slightly better in the third Barao still looked great, his striking looking a lot crisper than that of his opponent.
So with the fight going the distance it went down to the judges, and no surprise with this one as they gave everything to Barao.
It was up to welterweight next as Josh Koscheck faced Mike Pierce.
This was another of those encounters that fitted firmly into the intriguing folder, although it was a lot closer than the last fight.
Both fighters put in good performances in the striking department, with Pierce just edging it for me in that respect.
The take down defence was sound, so much so that there were only three successful attempts here, one for Pierce and two for Koscheck, with the fighters returning to their feet within seconds.
Koscheck earned a series of warnings from the referee for his use the fingers on his left hand. Koscheck’s tactic was to use his left, with his palm open, to gauge the distance so he could throw a right hand, and it was inevitable that he would inadvertently poke Pierce in the eye.
With the fight going the distance the judges were called into action once again as Koscheck took the split decision, something that didn’t exactly please those in attendance.
The penultimate fight featured heavyweight action as Roy Nelson faced the returning Fabricio Werdum.
I really enjoyed this one. From the moment it started Werdum put on an excellent striking display, particularly with the muay thai clinch in the first round as he held Nelson’s head and delivered a series of hard knees that busted his man open.
Nelson, for his part, showed how tough he was by not only taking that punishment but also dishing out some of his own, at one point sending Werdum crashing with a big right hand, as well as going for a standing guillotine.
But all of this meant nothing as far as Werdum was concerned as he kept up his striking attack, opening up a second cut above Nelson’s right eye.
The referee’s decision was more or less a foregone conclusion as the judges gave everything to Werdum.
The main event saw Carlos Condit taking on Nick Diaz for the Interim Welterweight title.
This proved to be a very good fight, especially for Condit.
Both fighters looked a little nervous to start off with, but it wasn’t long before Condit began to impose his will on the fight, getting off some nice combinations.
As the fight progressed it became obvious that Diaz was getting frustrated with his inability to use his usual tactics, and whenever he did manage to get Condit up against the cage and get off a couple of blows Condit always escaped within seconds.
The only ground work to speak off came in the fifth round when Diaz took Condit’s back and took the fight down. Diaz tried to go for a choke but Condit was able to defend, ending the fight in top position.
Then the judges came into play, with all three giving the fight to Condit for his great performance.
In conclusion - Dana White and his band of merry men have done it again. UFC 143 may have lacked the flashy submissions and the big knockouts that fans normally cry out for but it was still packed with tremendous action.
There were some really good performances here, from Ed Herman’s early submission attempt to the wars of attrition which saw Josh Koscheck, Renan Barao, Fabricio Werdum and Carlos Condit grind out well deserved wins, with Condit’s battle with Nick Diaz the fight of the night for me.
So in all UFC 143 gets a the big thumbs up from this particular writer. Good work all round.