Now what?? Plenty of top welterweights, but not one clear #1 contender

Posted: March 18, 2014 in Commentary/Opinion

johnyhendricksArguably the UFC’s deepest division, the welterweight rankings are now in a state of uncertainty. Probably due to the depth, the weight class is sitting without a clear cut #1 contender for Johny Hendricks to face in his first title defense. No one has a long winning streak or a signature win over one or more other top contenders to be the sure-fire next challenger for “Bigg Rigg.” So let’s play a game. Who do YOU think should be next? Let’s look at the options.

Robbie Lawler. A rematch? Well, Saturday’s fight turned out to be Q1’s “Fight of the Year” candidate. It had everyone on the edge of their seats for 5 full rounds. Both fighters came out of the fight with just as much—or more—street cred than when it started. While it would be unconventional for them to announce an immediate rematch without the normal prerequisite of a botched (controversial) decision, it could happen. I’d watch it.

Rory MacDonald. Former champ GSP is campaigning for this one. Rory was well on his way to matching up with Hendricks until a loss to Lawler derailed him. He rebounded with a nice win over Demian Maia last month. But it that enough? It could be. Before Lawler, he “carefully” outlasted Jake Ellenberger; and manhandled BJ Penn before that. His only other loss in the UFC came to Carlos Condit and that was almost 4 years ago. MacDonald vs. Hendricks would be a great matchup, but his one-fight winning streak could work against him.

Tyron Woodley. As dangerous as any fighter in the division right now, Woodley seems to be peaking at the right time. Consecutive KO/TKO wins over Koscheck and Condit make him a likely good choice on paper. Working against him however is that the Condit win will forever be marred and labeled a fluke by many. Lost in the shuffle is that Woodley was handily beating Condit before the knee injury occurred. Fluke injury or not, Woodley is on top of my own personal list of guys who could give Hendricks a hard time. I wouldn’t be disappointed at all if he was deemed “next in line.”

Hector Lombard. Another winner from last weekend’s UFC: The Welterweights, Lombard made a nice statement that he’s more than the bust many people labeled him when he first broke into the UFC. The first round against Jake Shields was as impressive as it gets. On the downside for Hector is that he didn’t (couldn’t?) maintain that pace after the first 5 minutes. Since Shields is typically considered a tough out, maybe they’ll overlook that. Lombard is coming off an explosive win over formerly top ranked Nate Marquardt, and is still unbeaten at WW. I happen to think he’s at least a win away, but he’ll be in consideration.

Nick Diaz. Wait…are we really doing this? Let me give you some reasons why this is a terrible choice. First off, he hasn’t fought in over a year. He’s on a two fight losing streak. His last win was in 2011 against BJ Penn, who’s (sadly) a shell of his former self. He’s just 1-2 in his current UFC run; and just 7-6 overall. He’s a pain in the ass toward management, and continues to talk shit about his employer and other fighters. He also has a huge contingent of non-fans who hate him for it. On the plus side…he’s still Nick Diaz. Hilariously, that might actually be enough make the big guys book that fight.

Georges St-Pierre. Let’s get nuts. Would the UFC be able to lure their biggest star back in to the cage before the end of the year—and before anyone expected? It’s a long shot. If it was going to happen, it would take mean GSP is totally ready to return mentally. It would also have to have some type of elevated drug testing attached to it to appease St-Pierre’s ongoing concerns. I doubt very seriously this will happen so quickly, but I would wager it’s part of the equation and the UFC’s top choice in an ideal scenario. And, by the way, Johny wants him too.

  1. […] Welterweight is my favorite division–and the deepest in my opinion. I think there’s more quality title contenders at 170 pounds than any other division in the UFC. Now that you know about my collective love affair with guys from Johny Hendricks and GSP all the way to Igor Araujo and Andreas Stahl, let’s revisit the argument about who gets to fight Hendricks next. Here’s a list of several of the contenders most likely to get the next title shot–and one or two that probably won’t happen, but are fun to add to the argument anyway. For more on this topic, check  out our analysis from yesterday. […]

  2. […] Now what?? Plenty of top welterweights, but not one clear #1 contender […]

  3. […] he’s dropped his last two fights, it’s difficult to imagine him getting a title shot. Or is it? As far as the contract re-vamp, what’s he asking for? Only a cool half-million…for one fight. […]

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