Monday, July 5, 2021

The Greatest MMA Fights of All-Time: Carlos Condit vs. Hiromitsu Miura (Aug. 03, 2008)

Revisiting the last (and best) Welterweight Championship fight in WEC history

By: Jimbo X


There was a point in time where a lot of people, including some of the most important influencers in MMA media, considered World Extreme Cagefighting to be the single best promotion on the planet. And while your mileage may vary on that little assumption, this much is undebatable: from 2007 to 2010, WEC didn’t just bring the goods, they brought the goods in buckets, tubs, swimming pools and whatever large container you’d like to use as a referential point for the analogy to work.

Take your pick of any number of top notch Urijah Faber, Jose Aldo, Mike Brown, Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, Benson Henderson or Miguel Torres bouts from that time frame. Hell, that’s not even counting the trainwreck stuff in the bigger weight classes (i.e., Chael Sonnen taking on a CLEARLY intoxicated Paulo Filho) or the brain-rocking excitement gifted to us by the likes of Brian Stann and Steve Cantwell. It’s not a perfect one-to-one analogy, naturally, but in many ways, you can kind of think of WEC in the late 2000s as the MMA equivalent of WCW’s cruiserweight division in the mid-1990s — pure, revolutionary, non-stop, kill-or-be-killed action from lightweight competitors going 2,000 miles a minute and giving fans the kind of kinetic action that the 200-pound-plus fighters couldn’t DREAM of delivering.

And because of that, a lot of MMA fans tend to overlook (or outright sleep on) the supra-155 pound tilts that went on in the promotion. Which is a shame, really, because there were some real dandies contested in the WEC at 170 pounds, including the FINAL Welterweight Championship contest the promotion witnessed.

Let’s roll the clock back to Aug. 03, 2008, why don’t we? WEC 35, held at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Paradise, Nevada, was a very noteworthy show even BEFORE the main event took place, with Jamie Varner smashing Marcus Hicks and Steve Cantwell upsetting Brian Stann on the undercard. But as memorable as those bouts were, they were nothing compared to the sheer, bell-to-bell awesomeness of the headline title fight, which pitted long-time Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit against Hiromitsu Miura.

Condit’s story ought to be very familiar to any MMA fan worth his or her salts. A Rumble on the Rock and Pancrase alum, he made his WEC debut in 2007 and ended up winning the promotion’s 170-pound belt in just his second match for the company. Heading into this bout with Miura, Condit had already successfully defended the belt against Carlo Prater and Brock Larson in convincing fashion, and frankly, must MMA pundits and analysts didn’t even THINK the Japanese challenger had a shot in this ‘un.

Another Pancrase product, Miura likewise joined WEC in 2007. After gaining wins over Blas Avena and Fernando Gonzalez he was put first in line for a crack at Condit’s belt, and well, nobody thought he was going to give the reigning, defending title-holder any difficulties. 

On paper, it seemed like Condit was just gonna’ steamroll the guy. But in reality? Miura ended up putting on one of the most inspired performances in WEC history — and, in the process, coming *this* close to pulling off one of the greatest upsets in the annals of MMA lore. 

So how about we fire up this old ass recording of the match I “borrowed” from some Russian website and relive the magic of the moment all over again, why don’t we?

No, I don't think it's supposed to be that easy to do that, folks.

Condit has a five-inch height advantage and a five-and-a-half-inch reach advantage. Miura is introduced as a "judo fighter" and the fans boo him because back in 2008 you were still allowed to be racist against Asians in public. Condit gets a pretty big pop from the crowd, but not a massive one, but then again, the fight is being held in a casino bathroom so there's only like 20 people in attendance to begin with.

The bell for round uno clangs. Both men throw a lot of feints and the crowd chants for Carlos. Condit throws a high kick and Miura connects on a big right. Carlos with another high kick and Miura back pedals. Both men eat some big shots and they land haymakers almost simultaneously. Carlos with a kick to the stomach and a shot to the knee against the fence. Miura responds with a flurry of punches, and Condit retaliates with a knee. And then Miura says "JUDO HIP TOSS MOTHERFUCKER" and Carlos lands anus first on the canvas. Miura works from side control for a bit, and Carlos springs back to his feet almost immediately. Mirua sends Carlos to the mat again with a beautiful leg sweep, then Condit gets back up and fuckin' clobbers Miura with a right hook, then Miura hip tosses his ass again. Condit gets back to his feet and Carlos manages to drop Miura with a right. He's looking for an armbar. Condit keeps lobbing some elbows from side control. Miura does his damnedest to tie up Condit's arms. Condit almost has Miura in the crucifix mount. Miura explodes out, using the cage as a leverage board. Condit spins around and ALMOST has a twirling amrbar applied. Mirua shucks him off and both men are standing and swingin with about 20 seconds left in the round. Miura lands ANOTHER hard-ass judo toss and he tries to rain down some punches on Condit, who ripostes with a half-hearted guillotine attempt as the bell sounds.

Imagine that. A guy nicknamed "The Natural Born Killer" is really, really good at submissions.

Round two. Condit working the front kicks early. Miura slips after a sweeping sternum shot from Condit. Carlos works from the closed guard and punches the SHIT out of Miura's ribs. Carlos gets back to his feet and Miura starts up kicking like a motherfucker. Condit spins around Miura's legs like he was Tiger Mask and ends up in side control. He slowly slinks into the full mount and Condit leaps in the air to pass. He peppers Miura with punches to the ribs as he continues to flatten the challenger to the canvas. Miura hangs onto Condit, but he can't prevent Carlos from sweeping back over to side control. Condit places his elbow up against Miura's throat and Miura explodes again. Condit winds up in the full mount and Carlos starts raining down punishment. Miura rolls around and tries to duck out from underneath Condit's ass. And when he does, yep, it gives Carlos a golden opportunity at a kimura. Miraculously, Miura manages to power out and now HE's the one who gets to work from the dominant top position. The ref, of course, only waits for about five seconds before standing them up, because otherwise the Japanese guy might actually win this thing. Condit lands a solid body shot and Miura whiffs on a judo toss. That allows Condit to grab his back, but Miura rolls across the mat, so Condit simply ends up in the full mount with ten seconds to go. Neither man is able to do anything substantial as the bell comes to a conclusion.

Round three. Condit whiffs on an uppercut and a high kick and Miura starts swinging for the fences. Condit LITERALLY jumps on Miura's back to drag him down to the canvas and when he does, it's guillotine choke time, motherfuckers. Miura's head pops out and Condit starts working some ground and pound from the full mount. Looks like he's going for another armbar. Miura, to his credit, is defending pretty well, given his position. Condit with more elbow shots from close range and Miura rolls over and EXPLODES for a flurry of punches and now he's in the closed guard of Condit! Miura starts pounding on Condit's head like a bongo and those are some PHAT shots, folks. "Advance the position, guys," the ref says, which again, is codeword for "Oh shit, the Jap might beat this honky motherfucker." Miura lands even MORE devastating ground and pound and Condit is in deep dookie. Carlos springs to his feet and Miura socks him right in the fucking face, then Condit plants his patella right into Miura's left nostril and Condit lands another sweeping right to facilitate the facile takedown. Condit works from side control and Condit works for a top side triangle. Uh, I think. Condit looking for another kimura. He's in the full mount now, just paint brushing the shit out of Miura. Condit smashes Miura's face in with elbow shots and Miura appears to intentionally give up his back. Condit, of course, is looking for a rear naked choke. Miura has about 20 seconds to survive the round. Condit ALMOST has the submission hooked in. Alas, Miura just BARELY survives. 

Carlos Condit, seen here getting revenge for Pearl Harbor.

Round four. Condit whiffs on a whole buncha' punches and high kicks. Then Miura unleashes a barrage of punches and yes, Miura manages to take him down with yet another Judo toss. Miura throws some desperation shots from the guillotine position, until Condit scoops him up and takes him down to the mat. Condit is working from the half guard. Carlos looks for a choke and Miura tries to power out. He sweeps out and he's working from the half guard now. Condit has a headlock applied, but Miura quickly escapes from the position. Miura lands a ton of shots from up top and Condit looks for a kneebar. Miura wiggles free and drops back into the full guard. The ref stands them up because the Japanese guy is winning again. Miura comes out swinging for the fences during the stand up, and it ain't long before Condit secures the double leg takedown. Condit trying to slip into the full mount. Condit smothers Miura and the challenger powers out again. He gets in the full mount and starts throwing a million billion shots. Condit could be in MAJOR trouble here. Condit wraps his ankles around Miura's back and Miura whiffs on another ground and pound attempt. Condit gets back to his feet and fuckin' WASTES Miura with a jumping knee out of nowhere. Miura collapses to the mat like chap origami and he's got half a minute to work some ground and pound. Condit continues to paintbrush a defenseless Miura, and with just 17 seconds in the round the ref WAVES THIS FUCKER OFF.

Apparently, back in 2008 not only did people NOT want to stop Asian hate, they DEMANDED that Japanese people be mashed into a pulp for their amusement.

With so many great and trajectory-defining matches going down in 2008 — Forrest Griffin vs. Quinton Jackson, Cung Le vs. Frank Shamrock, Anderson Silva vs. Dan Henderson, Urijah Faber vs. Jens Pulver, the list goes on and on — it’s understandable yet still tragic that a fight THIS awesome remains relatively obscure and unappreciated to this day.

Condit, of course, is still fighting today at the ripe old age of 37, which in MMA years, is like being a 56-year-old running back. He followed up this outstanding match with another fairly underrated contest — an April 2009 split decision loss to Martin Kampmann in his UFC debut. From there Condit would rattle off five wins in a row, ultimately paving the way for a November 2012 showdown with Georges St-Pierre for the UFC Welterweight Championship that, as far as I’m concerned, is EASILY the best fight that went down that year and one of the greatest 170-pound contests in UFC history. Since then, Condit has been a UFC mainstay, although at this point, he’s pretty much just being retained for the nostalgia appeal. Indeed, in his last 10 fights he’s 4-6, with an atrocious five-loss streak spanning from 2016 to 2018. Still, he is currently on a two-fight winning streak with back-to-back decision wins over Court McGee and Matt Brown, so who knows?

Miura, on the other hand, had one more bout in the WEC, a January 2009 KO loss to Edgar Garcia. After that he returned to Pancrase, where he's only had five fights over the last six years. In between he tried his hand at professional boxing and did pretty well, up until he got flatlined by Yuzo Kiyoya in a crack at the OPBF Super Middleweight Championship back in 2012. Now 39, Miura is scheduled to take on Masayuki Kikuiri at a Pancrase show later this month — we’ll just have to see how he fares in that one, or if the fight itself even takes place, considering how shaky and sketchy things are in Japan’s MMA scene these days.

Regardless, I think it’s safe to say that THIS encounter from late summer 2008 remains a highlight on both of their pro fighting rap sheets. It’s Miura’s most exciting match by a country mile and likely in Condit’s top three, too. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the bout was able to crack a top ten list of the absolute best WEC fights of all-time, and if you watched WEC back in its heyday, you know that is NO small accolade.

Really, this is the best kind of all-time great MMA fight, the kind that NOBODY anticipated would be an all-time great MMA fight going into it. So many times we’ve had sky-high expectations going into a contest, only to be let down immensely by the final product. Well, here’s an instance where we ALL went into a championship contest with virtually no hype and walked out of it geeked to the ceilings on second-hand adrenaline. If you’ve never seen this one before, you DEFINITELY need to give it a look-see — trust me, this is 20 minutes of your life you’ll be eternally grateful you sank the investment into right here, kids.


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