Despite losing GSP, Welterweight Division has never been stronger or more exciting

Posted: December 17, 2013 in Commentary/Opinion

170.svgWith the retirement “stepping away” of welterweight superstar Georges St-Pierre, the UFC has some serious issues to manage. Strangely, revamping the entire welterweight division without the longtime champion won’t be one of them. The 170 pound weight class is arguably the strongest in the UFC and as exciting as it’s ever been.

Johny Hendricks will get the chance to grab the belt that eluded him last month by facing cinderella comeback story Robbie Lawler. Either of them will make a great champion, and for different reasons. After those two, the division is still full of talent and excitement.

Carlos Condit. The former interim champ is a mainstay in the title picture. Arguably the man to beat in the division now, he’ll have to wait for the outcome of Hendricks/Lawler to see what his next move should be. Another crack at the title won’t be far off for “The Natural Born Killer.”

Rory MacDonald. A tepid win over Jake Ellenberger and a tough loss to Lawler mean little or nothing to the longterm stock of “Ares.” At only 24, he’s sure to be a mainstay in the top of the division for years to come. Many—myself included—have him pegged as a future title holder, and now that GSP is out of the picture, Rory’s freedom to roam the division will increase big-time. He matches up nicely with nearly every other fighter in the top 10.

Jake Ellenberger. Wrestling base, incredible knockout power—sound familiar? The Juggernaut has many of the same tools as Hendricks. He’s a finisher and is just enough crazy to make a lot of noise in the division. Although he lost to MacDonald this summer, he had caused plenty of mayhem in his career leading up to that point to make me forget about the ho-hum loss. I see Ellenberger mixing it up with all these guys, much to the delight of the fans.

Nick Diaz. Yes, I’m keeping on this list, because he could return at any moment. And when he does, it won’t be in a Facebook prelim against TJ Waldburger. While Diaz’s style doesn’t clearly mirror anyone, two things he has in common with all the other names we’re mentioning are very high level skills and excitement. Like him or hate him, Diaz makes the welterweight division a more thrilling place to be.

Demian Maia. It looked like Maia was going to run all the way to the top of this division until a subpar performance against Jake Shields stopped him in his tracks. Let’s face it, Shields is a guy no one wants to fight for that reason alone. He’s ugly. Maia, however isn’t ugly. In fact, he’s masterful in his technique, which is why his “new” weight class is perfect for him to shine. Forget about the Shields fight. Maia is for real.

Tyron Woodley, Matt Browne, Martin Kampmann, Hector Lombard, Nate Marquardt, Jordan Mein, Gunnar Nelson, Mike Pierce, Tarec Saffiedine, Rick Story, Stephen Thompson, Brian Ebersole, Josh Koscheck and Jake Shields are all guys who are important names, exciting performers, up-and-coming stars on the rise or crafty vets. All have serious “value” when it comes to booking intriguing fights.

While Georges St-Pierre has moved on for now, the strength of the division has never been stronger. In a way it makes GSP’s announcement far less impactful in a negative way; and it creates lots of positives. Potential matchups and opportunities are unlimited now. I’ve never been as excited for this division as I am now. That’s no knock on GSP, just a statement of how much I like the welterweight class right now.

  1. […] been talking quite a bit about the UFC’s welterweight division lately, thanks in part to news that Georges St-Pierre was relinquishing his title. Now another interesting […]

  2. […] Despite losing GSP, Welterweight Division has never been stronger or more exciting […]

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