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Condit cleared for return.


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Former WEC welterweight champion Carlos Condit (24-5 MMA, 1-1 UFC) returns to the gym this week after a nearly two-month absence as the result of a serious cut on his hand.


Condit, who in 2009 moved back to his home city of Albuquerque, N.M., to train with Greg Jackson, was forced to withdraw from a bout with Paul Daley at UFC 108 on Jan. 2 and has been virtually inactive since the injury occurred, save for running and kicking the heavy bag.


"It's been a ***** being out, man," Condit told MMAjunkie.com (wwww.mmajunkie.com). "I'm looking forward to getting my momentum going again."


Less than a month out from the co-headliner at UFC 108, Condit was moving junk around in his garage when he grabbed a broken bulletin board that had a sheet-metal surface.


"I went to toss it in my junk pile, and it freakin' sliced my finger," he said. "It sliced a couple of my fingers pretty good."


He immediately went to an urgent-care facility and got the cut stitched up. It hurt ? he'd never had as deep a cut ? but the wound wasn't going to change his plans.


"But the next day, my hand started swelling up," Condit said. "It was really stiff and painful."


On Dec. 8, he made the unpleasant call to UFC officials, who already had seen a rash of injuries plague the Jan. 2 fight card. Condit was one of the 12 fighters who were announced or expected to compete on the card but eventually forced off of it due to injuries or illness.


"I realized I wasn't going to be able to fight if my hand was jacked and didn't move," he said.


Three days later, he saw a hand specialist who rushed him into surgery when it was discovered one of the tendons in his hand was severely infected with staph.


After the surgery, Condit spent six weeks on IV antibiotics with a large needle (called a PICC line) stuck in his arm at all times. He couldn't lift weights, grapple, or hit anything. Otherwise, he was told, his blood might clot and block the flow of drugs.


Kicking the bag and running were it.


Almost as hard as the layoff for Condit were the arrows thrown his way by Daley after news broke of the cancellation. In no uncertain terms, Daley said Condit was afraid to fight and called him a choice name.


Not cool.


"I was pissed, man," he said. "I'm not a *****. Anybody who knows me knows that I'm not a *****. You can say whatever you want about me, but I'm a tough dude, and I never back down."


With the IV now removed from his arm, Condit plans to return to the gym this week and assess the health of his hand.


"It's still a bit stiff," he said. "I'll get a better sense of that once I get into the gym and start grabbing and punching with it."


As for a return, he's hoping to get back in the cage in the spring.


"I need to get to a certain fitness level before I really start camp," he said. "I'm a young dude, so I'm sure I can pull that together, but I'll probably need a couple months to fully recover and get back in there."


He's fully confident he'll face Daley down the line, but his health comes first.


"I just need to focus on getting back and coming back 100 percent," he said. "I will get a chance to fight Paul Daley. Mark my words. It's a small world; we will fight. So I'm not too worried about that. So with whoever they put in front of me, I'm hoping to get a chance to show Daley how much of a (supposed) ***** I am."


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