WELTERWEIGHT (156 lbs. – 170 lbs.)
- Georges St. Pierre (20-2 / UFC Welterweight Champion)
- Jake Shields (25-4-1 / Strikeforce Middleweight Champion)
- Josh Koscheck (19-4 / UFC)
- Jon Fitch (22-3, 1NC / UFC)
- Nick Diaz (21-7, 1 ND / Strikeforce Welterweight Champion)
- Thiago Alves (16-6 / UFC)
- Paulo Thiago (13-1 / UFC)
- Martin Kampmann (17-3 / UFC)
- Dan Hardy (14-4 / UFC)
- Carlos Condit (25-5 / UFC)
I may sound like I’m gushing, but not enough can be said for how great Georges St. Pierre is and his accomplishments at Welterweight. It’s one thing to completely dominate and clean out the division to the point where any potential match-up seems like a fool’s errand for the competition. What makes it more impressive is that 170 has probably the toughest top ten of any weight class.
Jake Shields is coming to the UFC, and he’ll provide the toughest test for St. Pierre in literally years. That said, his one failing is his stand-up. St. Pierre prefers wrestling, which has resulted in people forgetting how versatile and dangerous his stand-up is. He’s not ashamed to fight a safe fight. Against Shields, the safer fight would probably be on his feet.
That’s looking past Josh Koscheck. He’s looked great in his last few fights, albeit against lesser competition; still, I expect the same thing to happen in their second meeting: Koscheck will be overwhelmed by St. Pierre’s wrestling and will be right back to asking himself where he went wrong and have to work his way back up. Again.
Meanwhile, it’s getting tougher and tougher to deny Jon Fitch his second opportunity. The question is, are there any improvements or changes in his game to make us think he’d fare better against GSP? I have my doubts. I wonder, though, if a win against Thiago Alves will put him back in line for a title shot or set him up as the (perceived) sacrificial lamb against Jake Shields.
Nick Diaz is easily the best fighter at 170 not under contract with the UFC. That’s probably a good thing; he’d have a lot of trouble with all the wrestlers they have in their division.
Look out for Martin Kampmann. He looked like a monster last month, and could be the next contender on the rise in the division.
Speaking of comebacks, Carlos Condit looked like the fighter we saw in the WEC when he fought a tough and game Rory MacDonald. His next fight against Dan Hardy is intriguing. Hardy’s a dangerous striker to be sure, but now that Condit’s prowess on the ground seems to have returned, are we going to see Hardy’s lack of takedown defense exploited again?