Carlos Condit can’t point to one exact reason for his recent decision to retire. He just knows it’s the right one.
The former interim UFC welterweight champion and 19-year veteran of professional MMA officially called it a career last week, finishing with a 32-14 record and some of the most memorable fights in history. In addition to big show battles with the likes of Georges St-Pierre, Robbie Lawler, and Nick Diaz, “The Natural Born Killer” was a star in World Extreme Cagefighting and will always be remembered for his star turn in the legendary Rumble on the Rock tournament.
The past few years haven’t been kind to Condit, 37, as far as results go as he closed out his UFC run on a 2-6 stretch. In what would be his last fight, Condit lost a unanimous decision to Max Griffin at UFC 264 in July.
On Monday, Condit appeared on The MMA Hour to elaborate on why the timing was right for him to walk away from competition.
“It was time, man,” Condit said. “It was time. For a lot of different reasons. After that last fight, I felt like I put together a good camp and I was just a step behind Max. I feel like I could really try to tweak things and I could try to figure out what’s missing, what part of the formula isn’t working right now and then go and test it again and test it again, but that’s a tough thing to do. That’s a tough thing to do because ultimately I have to go and put myself on the firing line to see if what I’m doing is working.
“At a certain point there’s diminishing returns, so I think it’s time to move on.”
It wasn’t long after the Griffin fight that Condit knew he’d be retiring. Following his losses, Condit had become used to a feeling of frustration that would wash over him, but that wasn’t the case after losing to Griffin.
“I’d been leaving a hotel room after a loss and been p*ssed off and leaving all my gear in a real salty mood and basically, ‘I’m done with this s*it,’” Condit said. “But this time was different. I wasn’t salty about it, I just felt like it was the right move. Probably about three weeks or a month ago I called Dana and I let him know, so this thing has been coming down the pipe for a little while.”
Condit’s retirement may have come as a surprise to some as he had actually strung together consecutive wins for the first time in nine years before the loss to Griffin. He won convincing decisions over fellow veterans Matt Brown and Court McGee to get himself back on track.
However, Condit feels that the preparation required to keep climbing back up to peak performance was taking its toll on him in more ways than one.
“I’m an optimist,” condit said. “I do get into those spots where I get down about things, but as soon as there’s any kind of sunlight peeking through the clouds I grasp onto that. I definitely felt some momentum, but also I think it’s more so just the time and a big piece of this is the amount of time and energy that I am still willing to put into fighting at the highest levels, I think in some ways I’m compromising things in my life, in my personal life.
“To train as a professional mixed martial artist at the highest level of the sport, that takes a lot. That takes a lot out of me energetically, emotionally, just everything. I have less to give to the rest of my life. And at this point I don’t want to make that compromise anymore.”
Before the news broke that he was retiring, Condit had been quiet on social media and gave no indication that his most recent fight would be his last. Condit was dealing with the recent death of a close friend (who Condit describes as a “brother”) due to COVID-19, so updating the public on his career status was the least of his concerns.
Condit said he’ll enjoy having the chance to step back from the spotlight, but overall there was little about his MMA experience that he regrets and if anything, it’s impossible for him to pick out one moment that stood above the rest.
“That’s really tough,” Condit said. “I’ve loved every f*cking second of it. The ups, the downs, all of it. If I had to pick a specific one, these last two fights that I won when we were out in Abu Dhabi and really just living in this surreal atmosphere. My coaches are all my really good friends and we had the opportunity to go to this crazy nice place and fight. That was a lot of fun. But I have 19, almost 20 years worth of memories so it would be really hard to pinpoint.”
Though Condit is confident that fans have seen the last of him in MMA, he’s staying involved in the martial arts community. Up next is a grappling contest against Ian Butler at Submission Underground 27 on Oct. 10.
Asked what it is about his approach to fighting that made him a favorite of fans, media, and his peers, Condit has a simple explanation.
“Having had the opportunity compete against great fighters, train alongside these great champions, since day one I have always passionate about this thing,” Condit said. “I still am. As I was thinking and all the messages, tons of messages and all this stuff coming through about my retirement, congratulating me, I’ve been sitting with that a little bit and I think maybe what resonated with people was that I approached this with passion.
“I stepped out there and I loved to fight, I love what I do, and I hoped every single time to go out there and put that on display. I love every second of this.”