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In what would be his final WEC bout, the Natural Born Killer, Carlos Condit, took on Hiromitsu Miura for his 3rd welterweight title defence. Riding a seven-fight win streak - all of them via stoppage - Condit opened as a huge -611 betting favourite over the heavy-handed Miura. The undefeated boxer transitioned to MMA impressively, boasting back-to-back first-round knockouts on his way to the title fight with Condit.
Condit started the fight in his usual manner, targeting the lead leg of Miura with calf kicks and oblique kicks aplenty. Miura, however, would not relent. Continuously pressing forward and willingly engaging in close-range exchanges, Miura worked his way into a clinch and landed an impressive judo throw on Condit. Unable to keep Condit grounded for long, the fight quickly returned to the feet before Miura managed a slick sweep to get the fight down again. After a few seconds of unimpressive top control, Miura found himself reversed as Condit scrambled and forced the fight back to the striking range. Within seconds, Condit clipped Miura with a heavy right hand that sent the challenger to the canvas. Condit identified the opportunity for a knee-on-belly position and exploited it immediately, raining down elbows on Miura. The first round ended with Condit almost locking in an armbar but Miura expertly wriggled his way out of it.
The second round proved to be less eventful but still had some key moments: Condit's overhand right dropped Miura but, as he went for follow-up shots on the ground, Miura hit Condit with a significant upkick that startled the champion. Falling into Miura's guard, Condit recovered quickly and controlled events on the mat for the remainder of the round with a fine array of elbows and another armbar attempt. Miura's defensive savvy on the ground frustrated Condit who lost mount and found himself fighting off his back for a large chunk of the round.
Miura had been billed as a cakewalk for Condit and despite the obvious skill gap between the two, Miura's toughness and sheer grit kept the fight competitive. This would ring true in the second half of the fight where the Japanese challenger, despite absorbing heaps of damage, managed to hurt Condit with some meaningful strikes both on the ground and on the feet. Miura exposed Condit's suspect gas tank and brought the dog out of the champion - something that we had not expected would happen going into the fight.
Though laboured in his striking exchanges in the fourth and final round, Condit's power was the equaliser. Miura was comfortably winning the round until Condit used a kneebar attempt to scramble back to his feet. With 30 seconds left on the clock, Condit landed a picture-perfect knee that folded Miura and sent him head-first into the canvas. From there, Condit's ground and pound sealed the win as referee Josh Rosenthal was forced to step in and stop the fight.
Incredibly exciting scrambles and brutal striking exchanges contributed to the momentum effortlessly swinging back and forth. It perfectly encapsulated the style that would make Condit a fan-favourite many years later in the UFC. Miura went on to lose his next fight and semi-retired from MMA, choosing instead to focus on his boxing career. Six years later, however, Miura returned to Japan and rattled off three straight wins to become Pancrase Welterweight champion.
UFC Fight Pass subscribers can watch the fight here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/33510/carlos-condit-vs-hiromitsu-miura-wec-35
The fight is also available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBsMCfjQhgs