’s 2016 Fight of the Year


Good things may come to those who wait, but we did not have to wait long for good things to come in 2016. When Robbie Lawler defended his welterweight championship against Carlos Condit at UFC 195 on Jan. 2, it was immediately hailed as a “Fight of the Year” candidate. There were still 364 days left in the year, and an additional 481 fights would take place in the Ultimate Fighting Championship alone, but sometimes that gut feeling simply cannot be denied. Everyone who watched the fight knew it was special the moment the final bell sounded and both men, side by side, hung on to the fence to hold themselves up. It was an iconic moment befitting of a sensational fight.The recipe was hard to mess up. Both Condit and Lawler had hard-earned reputations as exciting strikers with equally appropriate nicknames: “Ruthless” and “The Natural Born Killer.” Both came from elite training camps. Both had been champions. Both were coming off of savage, bloodbath performances. Lawler had six months of separation from his all-time classic against Rory MacDonald in the consensus 2015 “Fight of the Year.” Condit was seven months removed from delivering an epic beatdown against resurgent former title contender Thiago Alves in Brazil, where he painted the Octagon red with the DNA of his Brazilian foe before the referee called the stoppage. Lawler was known for his power and technical aggression in the pocket and his superhuman ability to absorb and rebound from punishment. Condit was known for his diverse, unrelenting Tasmanian Devil kickboxing game and diamond-grade chin. All the pieces were there, yet the sum of the parts still did not stack up to the greatness of the whole. From the opening minute to the fight’s conclusion, they engaged in a dizzying, back-and-forth affair that built up to a violent crescendo before 10,300 fans at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. If there was ever a time to have pity on the judges, this was it. Condit took the lead early, landing more than twice as many significant strikes than Lawler in the opening frame. In the second round, Lawler evened it up on all three official scorecards by …

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