Breaking Down the UFC Welterweight Division

The Champion: Georges St. Pierre

The Top Contender:  B.J. Penn & Thiago Alves

The Next Tier:

·         Jon Fitch

·         Josh Koscheck

·         Diego Sanchez

·         Karo Parisyan

·         Martin Kampmann

·         Mike Swick

·         Matt Hughes

·         Matt Serra

 

On the Rise: 

·         Yoshiyuki Yoshida

·         Dong Hyun Kim

·         Dan Hardy

·         Dustin Hazelett

 

Other Notables:

·         Marcus Davis

·         Chris Lytle

·         Yoshiyuki Yoshida

·         Chris Wilson

·         Dustin Hazelett

·         Ryo Chonan

·         Dong Hyun Kim

·         Akihiro Gono

·         Luigi Fiorvanti

·         Dan Hardy

·         Jonathan Goulet

·         Tamdan McCrory

·         Kevin Burns

·         Anthony Johnson

·         Rory Markham

·         Paul Taylor

·         Roan Carneiro

·         Brad Blackburn

·         Pete Sell

 

Scheduled Fights:

·         Josh Koscheck vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida at UFC Fight Night 16 on December 10

·         Mike Swick vs. Jonathan Goulet at UFC Fight Night 16 on December 10

·         Luigi Fiorvanti vs. Brodie Farber at UFC Fight Night 16 on December 10

·         Ben Saunders vs. Brandon Wolff at UFC Fight Night 16 on December 10

·         Steven Bruno vs. Johnny Rees at UFC Fight Night 16 on December 10

·         Anthony Johnson vs. Kevin Burns at TUF 8 Finale on December 13

·         Brad Blackburn vs. Ryo Chonan at UFC 92 on December 27

·         Marcus Davis vs. Chris Lytle at UFC 93 on January 17

·         B.J. Penn vs. Georges St. Pierre at UFC 94 on January 31 (For Title)

·         Jon Fitch vs. Akihiro Gono at UFC 94 on January 31

·         Karo Parisyan vs. Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 94 on January 31

·         Matt Arroyo vs. Dan Cramer at UFC 94 on January 31

·         Matt Hughes vs. Matt Serra April 2009

 

Match Ups I’d Like to See:

·         Dustin Hazelett vs. Chris Wilson

·         Martin Kampmann vs. Pete Sell

·         Thiago Alves vs. Georges St. Pierre/B.J. Penn

 

Other Thoughts:

·         When people talk about staked divisions they think of the UFC welterweight division.  The best welterweights are here.  There may be a handful of decent welterweights outside the UFC including Jake Shields, WEC’s Carlos Condit, Hayato Sakurai, Jay Hieron and Nick Thompson.

·         Jake Shields will likely land in the UFC.  That is what he wants and where he wants to be.  There are a lot of potential match ups here for him.

·         Thiago Alves will get a title shot in 2009 against the winner of Penn vs. St. Pierre.

·         Martin Kampmann signed a new contract and should fight at 170

·         B.J. Penn very well could become a fixture at 170 as he could vacate his lightweight title win or lose against St. Pierre.

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MMABlog’s Welterweight MMA Rankings

Rank

Name

Organization

Next Fight

1

Georges St. Pierre

UFC

Penn (LW #1) 1/31

2

Jon Fitch

UFC

 

3

Jake Shields

EliteXC?

 

4

Josh Koscheck

UFC

Alves (#5), 9/25

5

Thiago Alves

UFC

Koscheck (#4), 9/25

6

Carlos Condit

WEC

 

7

Diego Sanchez

UFC

 

8

Karo Parisyan

UFC

1/31

9

Matt Hughes

UFC

Serra (#10) 4/?

10

Matt Serra

UFC

Hughes (#9), 4/?

11

Mike Swick

UFC

Goulet (NR) 12/10

12

Marcus Davis

UFC

 

13

Hayato Sakurai

 

 

14

Nick Thompson

EliteXC?

 

15

Brock Larson

WEC

 

16

Chris Lytle

UFC

 

17

Jay Hieron

Affliction

 

18

Dustin Hazelett

UFC

McCrory (NR) 11/15

19

Chris Wilson

UFC

 

20

Yoshiyuki Yoshida

UFC

Koscheck (#4) 12/10

21

Dan Hardy

UFC

 

22

Ryo Chonan

UFC

Blackburn (NR), 12/27

23

Akihiro Gono

UFC

 

24

Dong Hyun Kim

UFC

 

25

Luigi Fiorvanti

UFC

Farber (NR), 12/10

Poll Questions In Wake of UFC 89

Cast your vote on several questions that arose from UFC 89…

UFC News: Dan Hardy vs. Akihiro Gono at UFC 89

UFC 89 is set to air free on SPIKE TV on October 18th out of Birmingham, England.  It was pretty common knowledge that Hardy would be appearing in this card and making his UFC debut.  The rumors swirled as to who his opponent would be.  Many said it would be Mike Swick, but he denied those rumors and reportedly just underwent surgery.   Hardy’s opponent will be Akihiro Gono.  Gono recently pulled out of a UFC 82 fight with number one contender Jon Fitch due to injury.  Gono vs. Hardy should be a good fight.  Here is what Dan Hardy had to say:

I’m excited to be fighting such a tough, well-respected fighter for my debut as Gono,” Hardy said. “It shows that the UFC knows I am capable of dealing with the top-tier guys, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to go in at this kind of level. Gono has been in there with some of the best fighters in the world and always put on a good show, he comes to fight and has very good counter-strikes and some interesting submissions. He is a perfect opponent for me to prove my place in the UFC welterweight division and give the fans a great show. Fighting so close to home will be good because all of the people that have supported me through my career will be able to be there for my debut in the UFC.

This is a great weltwerweight match that should indicate where these guys fit into this divison.  Most people have thought that an injury free Gono can be near the top of the divison.

Tournaments in the UFC

What if UFC had a 16 man tournament.  In other words a little bigegr version of what DREAM is doing with lightweights and middleweights.  A tournament would doa  lot of good things.  It would give an underdog the chance to win and fight the top dog.  You would have to have some type of ranking to do it and seed the guys like with the NCAA basketball tournament.  It would ease match making.  It would give exciting fights and intriguing possibilites.  Can you imagine all the possible scenarios of what could happen and who could fight one another?  I bet guys would fight passionatley.  There would be upsets.  So…I played around and came up with this…I took my 16 top guys in each class and made a bracket.  The fight one winner will fight the fight 2 winner and so on…

Lightweight:

Round One Match ups:

B.J. Penn vs. Rich Clementi

Clay Guida vs. Gray Maynard

Marcus Aurelio vs. Frank Edgar

Kenny Florian vs. Manny Gamburyan

Sean Sherk vs. Spencer Fisher

Nate Diaz vs. Joe Stevenson

Joe Lauzon vs. Tyson Griffin

Roger Huerta vs. Mac Danzig

Welterweight:

Georges St. Pierre vs. Chris Lytle

Thiago Alves vs. Mike Swick

Karo Parisyan vs. Matt Serra

Josh Koscheck vs. Ryo Chonan

Jon Fitch vs. Roan Carneiro

Diego Sanchez vs. Luigi Fiorvanti

Marcus Davis vs. Akihiro Gono

Matt Hughes vs. Chris Wilson

Middleweight:

Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites

Martin Kampmann vs. Nate Quarry

Patrick Cote vs. Ricardo Almeida

Yushin Okami vs. Demian Maia

Rich Franklin vs. Evan Tanner

Nate Marquardt vs. Jason MacDonald

Chris Leben vs. Michael Bisping

Dan Henderson vs. Jorge Rivera

Light Heavyweight:

Quinton Jackson vs. Goran Reljic

Mauricio Shogun Rua vs. Matt Hammil

Wanderlei Silva vs. Sokoudjou

Chuck Liddell vs. Houston Alexander

Keith Jardine vs. Jame Irvin

Forrest Griffin vs. Wilson Gouveia

Thiago Silva vs. Rashad Evans

Lyoto Machida vs. Stephan Bonnar

Heavyweight:

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Dan Evenson

Cheick Kongo vs. Eddie Sanchez

Heath Herring vs. Cain Velasquez

Frank Mir vs. Christian Wellish

Fabricio Werdum vs. Antoni Hardonk

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Shane Carwin

Brock Lesnar vs. Justin McCully

Brandon Vera vs. Neil Wain

 

This all could make some interesting match-ups.  What you would do would be take all five divisons and make 5 fight cards with 8 fights each.  You could split them up or have a “lightweight card”.  5 cards would finish round one.  Then you could have two 10 fight card and that would finish round two.  Then you could have another card that would do the semi-final match ups and another card for the championships.  Try making an un-televised undercard out of any of these fights.  That would be awesome.  Of course you could put more thought into match ups and potential second and third round “dream match up” in where you placed fighters, but it is a great idea.  The one flaw is that if the UFC had one card a month this tournament would take 9 months to finish and that would keep a lot of fighters from fighting in that time.  I guess you could break it up and have non-tournament fights mixed in there too.  Just food for thought…

Who Benefited Most From PRIDE’s Collapse?

When PRIDE fell they were clearly the biggest competitors with the UFC, having many of MMA’s top guys.  They had some big time stars. Then PRIDE got into trouble and was bought by Zuffa.  So who benefited the most from PRIDE’s deminse?  There was a mad scramble to sign those guys who were now unemployed. I have been critical of the UFC’s ability to sign top PRIDE guys like Fedor, Gomi, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Arona, Kang, Mousasi, Melendez, etc. However, it looks like the UFC has done great due to PRIDE’s fall.  I ranked the PRIDE guys at the time of their collapse in order of who I would want to sign and the UFC benefited from it.  Now, the guys they have signed haven;t had huge success, but they are popular and will win eventually.  Can you imagine the UFC heavyweight divison without the influx of Nogueira, Werdum, and Herring???  The light heavyweight divison also was greatly boosted with the signings of Shogun, Wanderlei, Dan Henderson, Nakamura, and Sokoudjou.  UFC just struggles to get the lightweights. UFC signed 13 of those guys I listed and they have faired well, this doesn’t even include other guys who came in before the fall of PRIDE like “Rampage” Jackson.  Out of those guys you have some stars now in the UFC, some guys that can draw a crowd and one of them owns the belt (Nogueira).  DREAM and Affliction seemed to clean up what UFC couldn’t sign.  DREAM picked up the ligtweights, signing 8 of those PRIDE guys.  Affliction has a few signings.  So while I am critical of the UFC, let us give Dana and the UFC brass some credit for signing many of the top PRIDE guys.  I still would like to see the best of the best in one place, but it won’t happen, so this puts things into perspective and the UFC did good and benefited the most from PRIDE’s fall.

 

Name

Fight Organization Signed With

Fedor Emelianenko

Affliction

Wanderlei Silva

UFC

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

UFC

Mirko Cro Cop

UFC (DREAM)

Takanori Gomi

World Victory Road

Dan Henderson

UFC

Josh Barnett

Affliction

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

UFC

Paulo Filho

WEC

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

HCF

Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou

UFC

Ricardo Arona

 

Gilbert Melendez

Strikeforce

Fabricio Werdum

UFC

Gegard Mousasi

DREAM

Denis Kang

DREAM

Aleksander Emelianenko

Affliction

Marcus Aurelio

UFC

Akihiro Gono

UFC

Kauo Misaki

DREAM

Ricardo Almeida

UFC

Heath Herring

UFC

Joachim Hansen

DREAM

Ryo Chonan

UFC

Kazuhiro Nakamura

UFC

Tatsuya Kawajiri

DREAM

Mitsuhiro Ishida

DREAM

Alistair Overeem

Strikeforce

Kevin Randleman

 

Phil Baroni

EliteXC

Hayato “Mach” Sakurai

DREAM

Murilio Bustamante

 

Murilo “Ninja” Rua

EliteXC

The Stars of the UFC

There is a recent shift in stars of the UFC.  Those stars are the great investments, the money makers. The stars are not necessarily your best fighters, but they are well liked by the fans and they draw a crowd.  The stars are the people that the UFC will market and set up to be successful.  The stars get the most money and the best fights.  The stars have a louder voice with the UFC brass.  Some of those stars have been discontent like Randy Couture, Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski and Tito Ortiz.  Those guys leaving hurts the UFC.  The guys the UFC recognizes as their stars are the ones they need to cater to more.  The stars are prized in all MMA organizations.  The WEC has Filho, Faber, Condit, and Stann.  PRIDE had Fedor, Cro Cop, Barnett, Wanderlai, Dan Henderson, Gomi, Arona, Shogun and the Nogueira brothers.  EliteXC has Lawler, Kimbo, Frank Shamrock, and Carano.  Strikeforce has Gilbert Melendez and Cung Le.  The stars are not always the champs, but they may be.  In the UFC there is a shift.  The old guard is moving on.  They are still there, and still draw a crowd and are still good PPV fights, but in a few years will be gone.  The old guard consisted of Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Ken Shamrock, Tito Ortiz and Matt Hughes.  There is a star level, then there is a second tier level of guys you want to hold onto at all costs, who have a following, and then there is the emerging star tier. Then you have your great fighters who perform in the octagon are respected, but may not have the charisma to be the face of the organization.  These guys can win and hold belts, but they won’t be the Chuck Liddell’s.  This system explains why the UFC gives a title shot and coaches spot to Forrest Griffin, who i no way has earned the title of number 1 contender.  He is good, but not that good.  He may eventually earn that, but this is premature.  Why did he get it?  Because he is popular.  He will sell PPVs and people will watch TUF because of him.  Personality will carry a guy a long way, just look at the Houston Alexander bandwagon. A lack of personality will hurt a guy, just ask Yushin Okami and Nate Marquardt, who if they had the charisma would be stars because they have the ability.  These guys can move up and down these different levels, but some guys have already been crowed as stars and can do little to harm that.  Your stars are the guys you hold on to at all costs.  Your second tier you want to keep because they are your contenders and can become stars.  Your third tier you be careful with because they can become stars if you play your cards right.  Your fourth tier are some of the best fighters, they put on good fights, they win fight night bonuses and they should be signed and kep in the organization if you can.  The effect of a star leaving the UFC is much greater than when someone else does.  The UFC is hurt by loosing their four biggest heavyweight stars Couture, Cro Cop, Arlovski and Sylvia.  The UFC is not so much hurt by loosing Jake O’Brien.  It would be nice to keep O’Brien, but if you can’t you move on.  Also, you sign MMA free agents based on this tier.  I and many others consider Fedor for example a star level guy, an instant smash hit and a great investment.  You pay him well, but he will make you money.  Dana White apparently considered him second tier, and didn’t sign him.  My opinion you give the Fedors and the Couture and the Liddells whatever they want.  My system looks like this:

UFC’s Stars:

  • Anderson Silva
  • Georges St. Pierre
  • B.J. Penn
  • Rich Franklin
  • Chuck Liddell
  • Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
  • Forrest Griffin
  • Tito Ortiz
  • Matt Hughes
  • Wanderlai Silva

Second Level: UFC’s Near Stars:

  • Brandon Vera
  • Matt Serra
  • Jon Fitch
  • Diego Sanchez
  • Dan Henderson
  • Josh Koscheck
  • Sean Sherk
  • Kenny Florian
  • Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
  • Rashad Evans
  • Michael Bisping
  • Joe Stevenson
  • Gabriel Gonzaga
  • Chris Leben
  • Karo Parisyan
  • Clay Guida

Third Level: The UFC’s Emerging Stars:

  • Brock Lesnar
  • Roger Huerta
  • Mac Danzig
  • Joe Lauzon
  • Cain Velasquez

Fourth Level: UFC’s Stud Fighters, but Not Stars:

  • Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
  • Fabricio Werdum
  • Keith Jardine
  • Frank Mir
  • Thiago Silva
  • Heath Herring
  • Lyoto Machida
  • Marcus Aurelio
  • Yushin Okami
  • Marcus Davis
  • Patrick Cote
  • Evan Tanner
  • Stephan Bonnar
  • Martin Kampmann
  • Marvin Eastman
  • Ricardo Almeida
  • Mike Swick
  • Thiago Tavares
  • Nate Quarry
  • Wilson Gouveia
  • Nate Marquardt
  • Kauhiro Nakamura
  • Jason MacDonald
  • Demian Maia
  • Thiago Alves
  • Thales Leites
  • Frank Edgar
  • Matt Hammil
  • Nate Diaz
  • Akihiro Gono
  • Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou
  • Gray Maynard
  • Hermes Franca
  • Cheick Kongo
  • Din Thomas
  • Spencer Fisher
  • Tyson Griffin

Note: The reality show really helped some of these fighters draw a fan base, because people saw them on TUF they root for them to suceed in their careers