It was as if he never left.
Stepping into the Octagon for the first time in 441 days, Carlos Condit shredded Thiago Alves with a second-round elbow strike that led to a technical knockout in the UFC Fight Night “Condit vs. Alves” main event on Saturday at Goiania Arena in Goiania, Brazil. The cageside physician took one look at the Brazilian’s disfigured nose in between rounds two and three before deeming him unfit to continue. With that, Condit re-established himself as an integral part of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s welterweight division.
The “Natural Born Killer” showed no ill effects from the knee injury that required reconstructive surgery and sidelined him for more than a year. Condit shook off ring rust in the first round and looked like his old self in the second. The elbow that rearranged Alves’ face put the Brazilian on the canvas, pain undoubtedly rushing through his body, and prompted a savage flurry of punches, elbows and various other strikes from Condit. Alves survived to the bell but was permitted to go no further. The victory was Condit’s first since he blitzed Martin Kampmann with knees and punches in the fourth round of their August 2013 rematch.
In wake of UFC Fight Night “Condit vs. Alves,” here are six matchups that ought to be considered:
Related » By the Numbers: UFC Goiania
Carlos Condit vs. Matt Brown-Tim Means winner: Few men in MMA string together fight-ending violence better than Condit, as evidenced by the fact that he now sports 28 finishes among his 30 professional wins. The Jackson-Wink MMA representative was up to his old tricks against Alves, as he overcame a tepid first round and ripped apart the Brazilian in the second. According to FightMetric data, Condit out-landed the American Top Team veteran 83-12 in total strikes and 51-11 in significant strikes in round two. A former World Extreme Cagefighting champion, he had lost three of his previous four fights. Consider the ship righted. Brown and Means will square off at UFC 189 on July 11.
Charles Oliveira vs. Max Holloway: Oliveira put his rivalry with Nik Lentz behind him in spectacular fashion, as he submitted the American Top Team grinder with a third-round guillotine choke. The 25-year-old Brazilian has rattled off four straight victories since his unanimous decision defeat to Frankie Edgar in July 2013 and appears more than capable of running with the best of the best at 145 pounds. Holloway finds himself on a similar trajectory as one of the premier talents in the featherweight division, with victories in each of his last six appearances. The 23-year-old Hawaiian tapped Cub Swanson with a guillotine choke at UFC on Fox 15 in April.
Thiago Alves vs. Jake Ellenberger-Stephen Thompson loser: Once a surgeon puts Alves’ nose back where it belongs, he can continue his pursuits in the welterweight division. The “Pitbull” saw his modest two-fight winning streak grind to a halt on the end of a Condit elbow in the second round of their main event scrap. It marked just the second time in Alves’ outstanding 31-fight career that he had been finished by strikes. Provided he stays healthy, the 31-year-old American Top Team standout figures to remain a competitive factor at 170 pounds for some time to come. Ellenberger and Thompson will collide at “The Ultimate Fighter 21” Finale on July 12.
Nik Lentz vs. Dennis Bermudez-Jeremy Stephens loser: Lentz became the latest victim in Oliveira’s destructive run, as he succumbed to a third-round guillotine choke from “Do Bronx.” While he may have a limited ceiling at 145 pounds, “The Carny” provides the UFC with a stable and steady gatekeeper and does not figure to have a hard time finding work in a division that continues to deepen. Lentz has compiled a 4-2 mark since downshifting to featherweight, losing only to Oliveira and Team Alpha Male ace Chad Mendes. Bermudez and Stephens will do battle at UFC 189 on July 11 in Las Vegas.
Jussier da Silva vs. Henry Cejudo-Chico Camus winner: Though he fell short against Joseph Benavidez and John Dodson, da Silva has quietly racked up a 4-2 record since arriving in the UFC a little less than three years ago. The 30-year-old Nova Uniao rep turned away former EliteXC champion Wilson Reis on the UFC Fight Night “Condit vs. Alves” undercard, pushing his winning streak to three fights. Da Silva has been exposed by the cream of the crop at 125 pounds but remains a person of interest in a thin weight class that is short on contenders. Cejudo, the heralded Olympic gold medalist, will put his undefeated record on the line against Camus at UFC 188 on June 13.
Mirsad Bektic vs. Dennis Siver-Tatsuya Kawajiri: Bektic is a frightening talent, and he put his considerable abilities on display in routing Lucas Martins. The 24-year-old American Top Team-trained Bosnian is rapidly shedding his prospect label and may be turned loose to hunt bigger game soon. In his three UFC appearances, all wins, Bektic has landed 253 more strikes than his opponents. Siver will take on Kawajiri at UFC Fight Night “Jedrzejczyk vs. Penne” on June 20 in Germany.