UFC’s visit give Pacers center Roy Hibbert a unique opportunity

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INDIANAPOLIS – With a 28-7 career mark, this fighter rarely stands on a mat and has total confidence in his chances for victory.

Carlos Condit admitted that before he steps into the Octagon Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to face Martin Kampmann in a welterweight bout at UFC Fight Night 27.

But for the warm prior to the event on Monday on the fieldhouse practice court, he did face something that caught him a bit off guard.

“I was about at his belly button,” Condit joked following his photo opportunity with an Indianapolis UFC fan who just happens to be 7-foot-2.

Condit was to the left of Roy Hibbert and Kampmann to the right for quick picture, as the Pacers’ center towered over the pair who will fight in the main event on Wednesday night. While this chance to meet the Pacers’ center was unique for the fighters, the entire week is special for Hibbert with the close proximity of one of his passion outside of basketball.

“I watched The Ultimate Fighter all the time when I’m on the road, try to catch as many fights, pay-per-view fights as I can,” said Hibbert-and this week brings the fan a first.

Wednesday night’s UFC event will be the first that Hibbert has seen live in-person and his workout schedule shapes out that he will have the night completely free from basketball training obligation.

“I workout Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday so Wednesdays are my day off,” said Hibbert. “I get to just relax and just watch these guys perform.”

It’s not just the fighting that has kept Hibbert interested in the sport since his days in high school. As a fellow professional athlete, Hibbert respects the work the fighters put in before they get to the Octagon to help their performance inside.

“They’re the best conditioned athletes in the world and I have a lot of respect for how they train and treat their bodies and what they do and what they put out there on the line,” said Hibbert.

The Pacers’ center isn’t just an observer when it comes to mixed martial arts but has a bit of hands-on experience. In the past Hibbert has worked with gyms using MMA-style workouts to get himself into shape for the basketball season, getting an idea of the grueling training to which the fighters endure on a daily basis.

“It’s definitely a cardio workout, very little weights. Sometimes when I get done on the ground I’m dying and gasping for air,” is how Hibbert described the training. “These guys do it five-days-a-week, probably every day twice-a-day. Like I said, they’re the best conditioned athletes in the world.”

Yet the desire to jump into an Octagon and become a fighter is not there with Hibbert, who is developing into one of the best centers in the NBA. On Monday, he watched some of the fighters go through a quick workout routine without any ambition to join them.

“I’m just gonna watch and be a fan right now,” said Hibbert-though the fighters he roots for will literally be looking up to him.

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