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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Poll Questions In Wake of UFC 91

Cast your vote below in some questions that arose following UFC 91. 

MMABlog’s Lightweight MMA Rankings

Rank

Name

Organization

Next Fight

1

B.J. Penn

UFC

St. Pierre (#1 WW) 1/31

2

Takanori Gomi

World Victory Road

Golyaev (NR), 11/1

3

Shinya Aoki

DREAM

 

4

Eddie Alvarez

EliteXC?

 

5

Sean Sherk

UFC

T. Griffin (#15), 9/25

6

Mitsuhiro Ishida

DREAM/Strikeforce

 

7

Tatsuya Kawajiri

DREAM

 

8

Kenny Florian

UFC

Stevenson (#10), 11/15

9

Josh Thomson

Strikeforce

Edwards (NR), 11/21

10

Joe Stevenson

UFC

Florian (#8), 11/15

11

Gesias Calvancante

DREAM

 

12

Joachim Hansen

DREAM

 

13

Gilbert Melendez

Strikeforce

 

14

Jamie Varner

WEC

 

15

Tyson Griffin

UFC

Sherk (#5), 9/25

16

Roger Huerta

UFC

 

17

Gray Maynard

UFC

Clementi (NR), 9/25

18

Frank Edgar

UFC

Wiman (NR), 12/10

19

Vitor Ribeiro

 

 

20

Nate Diaz

UFC

 

21

K.J. Noons

EliteXC?

 

22

Joe Lauzon

UFC

 

23

Nick Diaz

EliteXC

 

24

Spencer Fisher

UFC

Gugerty (NR), 9/25

25

Caol Uno

DREAM

 

 

Others Considered: Clay Guida, Hermes Franca, Marcus Aurelio, Jim Miller, Jorge Masvidal , Rich Clementi, Matt Wiman, and Mac Danzig.

Future UFC Hall of Famers

So, which UFC fighters are future hall of famers?  Currently, there are 5 hall of famers which include: Randy Couture, Dan Severn, Mark Coleman, Royce Gracie, and Ken Shamrock.  So as you pan through current UFC fighters which guys are hall of fame calibur.  Let me tell you…

1. Chuck Liddell – Despite his recent struggles in the octagon, Liddell is the face of the UFC.  Not only that he has faired well in his career.  He was a very feared fighter and a dominant champion.  He boasts some big wins over the likes of Tito Ortiz, Babalu, Wanderlei Silva, and Randy Couture.  This is a no-brainer.  This is what baseball fans would call a first ballot hall of famer.

2. Matt Hughes-  Hughes is called the most dominant welterweight champion of all time.  He was dominant, and he may not be totally done yet.  He has coaches TUF two times.  He has been a force in the divison for years and held the belt it seems like forever.  Another first ballot guy. 

3. Tito Ortiz –  Let me begin by saying I despise Tito Ortiz.  I do not like him Sam I am.  However, no one can deny his dominance for a time.  I think he is done now, but he defended his belt a record number of times.  I don’t know if he will ever make it to the UFC Hall of Fame, but he should based on his in the octagon performance and popularity.  He lifted the sport when it was struggling.  He should be in, but like Pete Rose there are all sorts of other factors.

4. Rich Franklin –  The second best middleweight in the world.  People forget how good he is because of his losses to Anderson Silva.  He has been dominant otherwise.  He has a phenomenal record, he has been champ, he is incredibly popular, and he keeps getting better.  I love Rich Franklin and think he is surely hall of fame worthy no doubt.

5. B.J. Penn –  B.J. is really a prodigy.  He has been welterweight and lightweight champion.  He may be both at the same time come January.  He has cleaned out the lightweights and has fought the best welterweights.  He is one of the most popular fighters in the world and he is growing in talent and popularity.  He may not be a hall of famer today, but one more big win and he is a lock. 

6.  Anderson Silva – He may be the most dominant fighter ever.  He is the pound for pound best in the world.  He has changed the sport.  He is all around talented.  He can beat anyone and the scray thing is I don’t know if he will ever lose.  He is in.

7.  Georges St. Pierre–  He is not in yet, but he will be.  He has some work to do.  He has to keep the belt for a while to be hall of fame in my book.  He has hall of fame talent though.  He has the popualrity.   I have no doubts that by the time all is said and done St. Pierre will be a UFC Hall of famer.

8. Forrest Griffin – Overrated? I think so.  Popular? Undeniable.  Hard working? No one works harder.  The reason I would give Forrest the nod is what he did in the Ultimate Fighter.  He is one of the most popular UFC fighters, but mainly because he is considered the savior of the UFC.  Dana White has said that the Griffin-Bonnar fight saved the UFC.  Now he is a champ and is getting quite the resume with wins over Shogun and Rampage.  He is still growing too as a fighter.  He will be a hall of famer.

9. Evan Tanner– With his recent death I began to think about his hall of fame potential.  His popularity was huge.  However, Tanner had a lot of baggage outside the octagon which may have caused him to not reach his full potential in the octagon.  I think he could be a hall of famer.  In his prime he was beating a lot of guys.  He is a former champ, which is a must.  He very well could be a hall of famer if people can look past his struggles.

10. Tim Sylvia – I know, I know another guy I don’t like.  Tim is very polarizing.  He doesn’t have the popularity for some reason, but he was good in the UFC.  He beat tons of guys.  He held the title a couple times.  He could be, but may not be because he is not in the best standing in the UFC now that he left for Affliction. 

Other Candidates: Andrei Arlovski, Quinton Jackson, Frank Mir

Note: Many of the current UFC guys who were stars in PRIDE were left out such as Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson, Shogun Rua, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

Who did I leave out?  Weigh in below in the comments section.

My UFC 87 Thoughts and Results

  • Georges St. Pierre defeats Jon Fitch via Unanimous Decision
  • Brock Lesnar defeats Heath Herring via Unanimous Decision
  • Kenny Florian defeats Roger Huerta via Unanimous Decision
  • Demian Maia defeats Jason MacDonald via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) in Round Three
  • Rob Emerson defeats Manny Gamburyan via Knockout in Round One
  • Tamdan McCrory defeats Luke Cummo via Unanimous Decision
  • Cheick Kongo defeats Dan Evensen via TKO (Strikes) in Round One
  • Jon Jones defeats Andre Gusmao via Unanimous Decision
  • Chris Wilson defeats Steve Bruno via Unanimous Decision
  • Ben Saunders defeats Ryan Thomas via Submission (Armbar) in Round One
  • * I had a good night as far as predictions go, I predicted 8 of 10 correctly. 

    Submission of the Night: Demian Maia
    Knockout of the Night: Rob Emerson
    Fight of the Night: GSP & Jon Fitch ($60k each)

    My Disappointment of the Night: Manny Gamburyan or Andre Gusmao

    My Thoughts:

    • The Maia McDonald fight was a great battle in round one especially.  Maia is awesome.  I am seriously a believer.  I think he is a top flight middleweight and can contend for the belt.  His submissions are sick, he showed some great ground and pound skills.  He stood toe to toe.  Maia is a real deal fighter and he will get some respect now.
    • The Huerta vs. Florian fight was a good fight, but it wasn’t the fight of the year that it was billed to be.  I scored the fight 30-27 Florian as did the judges.  I believe the score doesn;t show how close the fight was, but Florian was clearly more technical and better all around.  Florian is now officially the number one contender in the UFC lightweight divison
    • Who would have predicted Emerson to KO Manny in 12 seconds?  I was disappointed with that.
    • Cheick Kongo is huge and I am glad his fight made it onto the card.  He looked good againt Evensen.  He is a top ten maybe top 5 heavyweight.  However, why call for the belt after you beat Dan Evensen?  Sorry Cheick get in line behind Werdum and beat someone of note.  You need some type of win streak to get a title shot. 
    • Brock Lesnar silenced any doubters.  He showed he has the skills to fight, and not just fight, but to win.  And not just to win, but to win against top tier fighters.  He has a lot of areas to improve upon.  He need to improve his submission skills.  He had a dominant position countless times and did nothing with it.  That comes from his wrestling background.  He needs to learn something about keeping the mount and dropping elbows.  He is strong as an ox.  He hits hard.  Man was that first punch hard!  I thought it was funny in the countdown Herring said, “I have fought bigger, stronger, better and more accomplished wrestlers.”  He was wrong.  He has not fought a wrestler of Brock’s calibur and strength and Brock dominated him.
    • I was disappointed with Lesnar’s WWE antics and unsportsman like conduct.   He shoved Herring away after round 1.  He acted like Herring at the end of the fight.  He pointed at him and laughed afterwards.  He acted like he was lasoing him.  I don’t have a problem with some of that.  I know adrenaline gets pumping and I know other fighters do things like act like the are burying a guy or the Barnett throat cut, but Lesnar needs to learn respect for his opponent. 
    • Speaking of respect for opponents how about the St. Pierre vs. Fitch fight.  A possible fight of the year candidate.  Fitch was out of his league.  He looked good a few minutes during the fight, but St. Pierre dominated.  The story following this is not as much St. Pierre winning and keeping his belt as it is Fitch’s toughness.  Fitch is one tough dude.  I gained respect for him.  How about the show of class between these two after the fight?  That is why I like St. Pierre. 
    • It looks like Penn vs. St. Pierre will indeed happen, hopefully in December.  Wow!  What a fight that will be. 

    UFC News: Wanderlei Silva to Return in December

    According to MMA Junkie, Wanderlei Silva has been told by UFC officials to prepare for a December return.  It appears he will be on the December 27 card which will feature a heavyweight title match between Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira as well as a possible match between B.J. Penn and Georges St. Pierre.  This is what Wandy had to say:

    “I’m talking with (UFC co-owner) Lorenzo (Fertitta), they’re talking about December because it is the best event of the year. (Antonio Rodrigo) Nogueira is going to fight (Frank) Mir for the belt for the heavyweights. This is the best event. It’s much more promotion. They told me to be ready to fight in December. They gave me 10 (possible) names. My division is the best division in the world. They have so many names. I think they’re going to give a good opponent to me. I wanted to fight [Jackson] again and I think it’s a very good match. For me, I have time to fight for the belt in the future, no problem, I’m going to wait for my opportunity. I’m going to give my best on every fight. After I win my fights, I’m going to have an opportunity to fight for the belt. For me, no problem, I’ll fight with everybody.”

    So, the question is who will he fight in December.  Process of elimination may help.  We would figure he would get a top 10-15 opponent seeing as how he just beat a top guy in Jardine.

    • Lyoto Machida is booked for a fight with Thiago Silva
    • Rameau Theirry Sokoudjou is booked for a fight with Luis Cane
    • Brandon Vera is booked for a fight with Keith Jardine
    • Chuck Liddell is booked for a fight with Rashad Evans
    • Shogun should return in December, but Wanderlei won’t fight him
    • Dan Henderson is booked for a fight at UFC 88
    • Rich Franklin is booked to fight Matt Hamill at UFC 88

    That leaves Forrest Griffin, Quinton Jackson, Stephan Bonnar and Goran Reljic

    • I wouldn’t object to Wanderlei getting the title shot, but it isn’t likely yet.  They train together also, but I am sure they would fight if the price is right, but I doubt they can push aside Machida for Silva.
    • Stephan Bonnar may be a good option as he should return by that date, but I don’t know if he is the calibur that Silva wants to fight.  He wants someone to get him into contention
    • Goran Reljic os good and also possible, but not likely because he isn’t ranked high enough
    • Quinton Jackson has to be the most likely but seeing as how he has all sorts of legal problems, I don’t know if it will happen.
    • The other option is a quick turn around for someone fighting in Semptember like Chuck Liddell, Rashad Evans, Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin or Matt Hamill, or even Andre Gusmao.  Any of those would be interesting and UFC 88 may dictate Silva’s opponent. 
    • The final option is some new to the UFC guy.  A new signing could be possible, but it is unlikely it would be someone that could jump right in and be cosndiered Silva level.  Someone like Vladimir Matyushenko is possible, but not likely.

     

    Best Pound for Pound Fighter

    Following July 19th the debate began as to who is the best pound for pound fighter in the world in Mixed Martial Arts.  Before July 19th two people were really thought of as perhaps the top guy: Fedor Emelianenko and Anderson Silva.  Following July 19th the debate gets tougher with both guys winning.  Let me begin by defining the term best pound for pound.  The best pound for pound fighter does not necessarily mean that he could beat any fighter in the world.  For example at 145 lbs, Urijah Faber would stand little chance against most heavier opponents.  The pound for pound title is for the best fighter in the world, size and weight has nothing to do with it and a fight between #1 and #2 wouldn’t necessarily settle the debate.  That is why the title best pound for pound fighter is difficult to determine and is very subjective.  Here is my list of the best pound for pound fighters. 

    1. Anderson Silva –  Anderson is number one to me for a few reasons.  First, he has cleaned out the middleweight divison of the UFC.  There is not a middleweight that I think can beat him.  Second, he has beaten top fighters constantly.  He beat a top notch fighter in Dan Henderson and another in Rich Franklin, and he destryoed Franklin.  He beat a solid guy in Nate Marquardt.  Third, he challenges himself.  He moved up to 205 to fight James Irvin.  Irvin is not a stud a 205, but he has serious KO power.  He could have KO’d Silva, but Silva destroyed him quickly.  Fourth, Anderson is so well rounded.  His striking is legendary.  His Muay Thai is deadly.  His jiu jitsu is incredible although we don’t see much of it.  I don’t see him getting beat any time soon at 185 or 205. 

    2. Fedor Emelianenko –  I am tempted to rank Fedor 1b.  Someone could make a solid argument to him being number 1.  Fedor always impresses.  He really impressed against Sylvia.  Not just that he won, but that he won in 36 seconds.  He is no doubt the best heavyweight, but I put him second to Anderson because I do not feel he has cleaned out the divison like Anderson has.  Fedor still has several guys to beat that are top level.  I’d like to see him fight Couture, Arlovski and Barnett.  Don’t get me wrong Fedor has a great resume and has beaten great guys like Nogueira and Cro Cop.  Fedor is incredible.  As for now he is numebr 2 pound for pound and I think he has to win another and Silva has to lose to change that.

    3. B.J. Penn –  Pure talent B.J. may be up there with Anderson and Fedor.  I believe B.J. may be the guy to challenge the two above guys.  He has looked dominant since his return against Pulver, Stevenson, and Sherk.  He wants to fight St. Pierre in what would be a dream match.  B.J. is one of those guys that can fight at several divisons and he has made clear he wants the welterweight belt.  If he beats St. Pierre he has to be in the talk for number 1.  He has beaten solid welterweights before and can fight well at 170.  He has even talked about going up to 185 to challenge Anderson.  B.J.’s knock has always been his drive.  That has changed lately it seems and when on his game he can beat anyone at any weight.  B.J. made very good fighters in Sean Sherk and Joe Stevenson look bad.  I am on the Penn bandwagon right now and think that right now he can beat anyone at 155 and maybe anyone at 170. 

    4. Urijah Faber – Some people may want St. Pierre in this spot, but I have Faber.  Faber is an awesome featherweight.  He may be the best featherweight ever.  I and many still want the Yamamoto fight, but the Pulver fight was great.  Faber impressed there and moved up my rankings because of that.  I don’t see any 145 lb guy beating Faber.  His boxing is great and he is so innovative on the ground.  The category is best pound for pound fighter and I think Urijah is one of the best. 

    5. Georges St. Pierre – St. Pierre is not ranked higher because he does have a recent loss to Matt Serra.  I know he avenged that loss since then, but Serra I consider far less talented than him.  St. Pierre is the total package.  When he is on he is unstoppable, and the key is when he is on.  I don’t suspect he will lose to Jon Fitch and a matcvh with B.J. Penn is on the horizon.  St. Pierre looked great against Serra, Hughes and Koscheck lately.  He is beating top level talent at the welterweight divison.  he is a few fights away from cleaning out the divison.  If he beats Fitch, Penn, Alves and Sanchez, he may move up to 185.  St. Pierre is an awesome fighter and he has room to climb up.  I think what is so impressive about him is his desire to learn more and grow as a fighter. 

    6. Miguel Torres – A 135 pound fighter is hard to rank, however there is no doubt that Torres is the world’s best bantamweight.  His popularity is growing by leaps and bounds.  His last fight may be fight of the year.  He has sick jiu jitsu and showed he can stand and bang.  He has an incredible overall record and he sports a mullet unashamedly.  Torres is great at 135.  Many are calling for a Torres vs. Faber fight and that would be awesome as I believe Torres would be a challenge to Urijah.  I do not know if we know how good Miguel is and I do not know if we ever will.  He has to be one of the most underrated fighters in the world. 

    7. Lyoto Machida – I do not know how many people consider Machida in their pound for pound rankings, but I think it must be considered.  He is undefeated.  He dominated Tito Ortiz.  I know many people are critical of him, but right now he may be the world’s best light heavyweight.  He certainly fits the bill of being underrated.  Many people do not like him because of his style, but he keeps winning.  Some accuse him of running in fights, but he strikes and moves.  He is very effective.  If he keeps winning he needs to move up lists.  His fight with Thiago Silva at UFC 89 will tell us a lot.  Don’t sleep on Lyoto as a pound for pound top fighter. 

    8. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira – Big Nog is the UFC Heavyweight champion.  He has beaten great guys.  He takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’.  He has tons of talent and is very well rounded.  Most consider him the #2 or #3 heavyweight and in the midst of Couture’s desire to fight the best in Fedor he has overlooked fighting Nogueira.  In my opinion Randy should have challenged Nogueira for the belt before pulling this cry baby crap with the UFC and pouting because he wanted Fedor.  He could have foguht out his contract against Nogueira and one other guy and then left with no conflict to get the Fedor fight.  He could have fulfilled his contract with no controversy with the UFC.  His legacy is tarnished.  I think Nog would beat Randy.  He has proven himself over and over.  Nogueira is a solid fighter and I look forward to his fight with Mir and his TUF 8 coachind stint. 

    Others: Kid Yamamoto, Takanori Gomi, Paulo Filho, Forrest Griffin, Dan Henderson, Randy Couture, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua