Not There Yet: Carlos Condit – NM Homegrown Series

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One of the biggest fears that I struggle with while building KNUXX is not asking dumb questions at interviews.  I try and prepare some good questions beforehand and do research to make sure that I don’t ask something that everyone should already know.  We want KNUXX articles to be insightful and entertaining – not earth shattering or ground breaking news – just good stuff that people want to read and that gives them a look “backstage”.

When Carlos and I got together I wanted to make sure that I asked him things that would be interesting to the NM fight community and wouldn’t just be a basic profile.  Going into the interview I thought I had some decent questions but there weren’t any that were really great.  So I did like any good “budding reporter” would do, I winged it.

I tried to avoid common-place questions like “how did you get your nickname” or “how is it fighting in the UFC”.  If the only fight you’ve ever seen was Condit’s last fight at UFC 132 against Dong Hyun Kim, which won him Knockout of the Night honors for an incredible flying knee squarely planted on his opponent (and the “perks” that come with that award), then you already have a good idea as to why he has his nickname.  And if you’ve seen most of his fights over the last few years then you KNOW why he’s earned the moniker “Natural Born Killer”.

Carlos Condit is homegrown New Mexican and, aside from a few trips toJapan& around theUSfor fights and a short training stint inArizona, he hasn’t gone too far from here. New Mexicois home.  This is where he grew up, this is where he trains, this is where he started his family, and this is where he plans to stay.  Like any real New Mexican, when faced with the state question (red or green?) he responded perfectly – “it depends on the dish”.

We talked about growing up in NM and how that has affected his life and his choices.  Oftentimes New Mexicans use the state as a crutch, or an excuse, for how their life has turned out – I know I have many times.  But the “shoulda, woulda, coulda” doesn’t even enter Condit’s thinking.  He basically said “If I hadn’t grown up in NM then I wouldn’t be where I am today”.

Condit started training when he was 15 with FIT – withTom, Arlene & Greg (when they were all together).  It’s well known that his father was in Bill Richardson’s cabinet so I asked him how his father handled having a “fighter” for a son – did he ever fear that it would tarnish his political status?  Condit, without pointing out that I was an idiot for not putting it together, reminded me that he started training before he was able to legally drive.  Someone had to take him to practice.  Someone had to help him purchase gear, pay for training, feed him (the right food), take him to fights and support him – and that was usually his family.

When he turned 18 he pretty much headed out on his own.  Fighting and training kept him out of trouble and provided an outlet for him.  Like many of the youth in NM, Carlos knew that it wouldn’t have been hard to live a “less-than-legal” life, if he wanted to, since it’s not hard to find trouble.  But he didn’t.  If he wasn’t a fighter he said he would have wanted to join the military or become a paramedic or firefighter.  But that’s not the path he chose.  Obviously he stayed dedicated and motivated to the sport.  He moved toArizonaa few years ago to train thinking that it was the best choice for his career.  He moved back – it wasn’t home.

He came back to train out ofJackson’s where he found “top notch training partners and world class trainers”.  He got married and recently had a son – and that changed almost everything.  Time has become everything to him – time with his family and time with his son.  And he strives to protect that time now.

Carlos realizes that fighting is his job and he is the CEO of a business of one.  This is how he provides for himself and his family and as such he runs his fighting more like a business now.  He utilizes tools that he never did before – he used to keep schedules, meetings, and contacts in his head.  He can’t do that anymore, now he uses his phone to keep him in touch and on time.

What really surprised me was that he doesn’t have a whole legal team on retainer for his fights.  He said the original UFC contract was the most complex and required the most review.  The Bout Agreements and negotiations are usually just done via email, in fact he said he had just agreed and replied to the Bout Agreement with BJ Penn for UFC 137 in October.  That’s a valuable email.  Doing it that way saves time for everyone and it keeps the UFC machine churning out fight after fight.

You can see the focus in his face when he starts talking about the business side of fighting.  He takes it seriously – I would argue that it’s even more focused now than it ever was.  I get the impression that outside the cage is where the work happens for Condit.  He trains, sells, and negotiates outside the cage daily. A fight is only 15 minutes (or 25 when he gets his title shot). He’s started looking at doing more self-promotion using print and the web.  He recently launched where you can get updates of his training camp leading into the fight and he’s always had a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

There’s always that moment when a band realizes that they’ve made it – they hear their song on the radio for the first time.  Or when a college player gets a call to be part of a professional organization’s draft.  I asked Carlos when it was that he realized that he had made it – was it when he went 5-0 in the WEC or when he came over to fight for the UFC?

He thought for a long time (so long that I started feeling like I’d just asked one of those feared “dumb questions”) then he said “I’m not there yet”.  He’ll be there when he puts the belt on and when he can defend that belt successfully.  After that he’ll be there when he can support his son in his dreams.  I got the sense that he’s not there yet because he, like most fighters, is on a path that he will take as far as he can for as long as he is capable.

For me, I realized that I was on the path when I got to interview Carlos Condit but we’re not there yet either.

Carlos, Thanks for taking the time to share with KNUXX and the NM fight community.