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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Breaking Down the UFC Middleweight Division

The Champion: Anderson Silva

The Top Contender: ?

The Next Tier:

·         Yushin Okami

·         Nate Marquardt

·         Michael Bisping

·         Dan Henderson

·         Demian Maia

·         Thales Leites

·         Patrick Cote

·         Chael Sonnen

 

On the Rise: 

·         Demian Maia

·         Michael Bisping

 

Other Notables:

·         Denis Kang

·         Rousimar Palhares

·         Martin Kampmann

·         Chris Leben

·         Ricardo Almeida

·         Nate Quarry

·         Jason MacDonald

·         Wilson Gouveia

·         Goran Reljic

·         Dan Miller

·         Dean Lister

·         Kendall Grove

·         Alan Belcher

·         Ed Herman

·         Jorge Rivera

·         Alessio Sakara

·         C.B. Dolloway

·         Mike Massenzio

·         Matt Horwich

·         Jake Rosholt

·         Amir Sadollah

 

Scheduled Fights:

·         Nate Loughran vs. Tim Credeur at UFC Fight Night 16 on December 10

·         Jason MacDonald vs. Wilson Gouveia at TUF 8 Finale on December 13

·         Yushin Okami vs. Dean Lister at UFC 92 on December 27

·         C.B. Dolloway vs. Mike Massenzio at UFC 92 on December 27

·         Denis Kang vs. Alan Belcher at UFC 93 on January 17

 

Match Ups I’d Like to See:

·         Yushin Okami vs. Anderson Silva

·         Thales Leites vs. Rousimar Palhares

·         Demian Maia vs. Michael Bisping

 

Other Thoughts:

·         The UFC Middleweight division is very, very underrated!  I believe it is because of Anderson Silva’s dominance.  The middleweight division does not have a clear number 1 contender, but from top to bottom I would put this division with any.  Albeit, the UFC’s competitors have some middleweight talents in the likes of guys like Gegard Mousasi, Jacare, Vitor Belfort, Matt Lindland, Jorge Santiago,and  Kazuo Misaki.  Not to mention the few solid middleweights from EliteXC such as Robbie Lawler, Joey Villasenor, Scott Smith, Frank Shamrock and Benji Radach.  The UFC is sure to pick some of those guys up

·         Rumor has it the UFC is in negotiations with top middleweight Yoshihio Akiyama.  I do not know if they call pull him away from DREAM and Sengoku, but that would be a huge add. 

·         The middleweight division is growing with adds like signing Denis Kang, the move of WEC’s division which will add Chael Sonnen and Jake Rosholt as well as guys like Aaron Simpson and Danillo Vilefort likely to come over.

·         Paulo Filho will not be in the UFC…yet.

·         TUF 9 will feature middleweight coaches with Michael Bisping being a lock.  The other names being thrown around are Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin, Nate Marquardt and even Demian Maia

MMABlog’s Middleweight MMA Rankings

The middleweights were hard to rank down towards the last 10.  Sorry if I left some good guys out.

Rank

Name

Organization

Next Fight

1

Anderson Silva

UFC

 Cote (#12), 9/25

2

Paulo Filho

UFC

Sonnen (#16) 11/3

3

Rich Franklin

UFC

Next Fight at LHW

4

Dan Henderson

UFC

Next Fight at LHW

5

Robbie Lawler

EliteXC?

 

6

Kazuo Misaki

Strikeforce

1/4

7

Nate Marquardt

UFC

 

8

Matt Lindland

Affliction

Sobral (LHW) ) 1/24

9

Yushin Okami

UFC

Lister (NR), 12/27

10

Gegard Mousasi

DREAM

Belfort (#25,) 1/24

11

Thales Leites

UFC

McFedries (NR), 9/25

12

Patrick Cote

UFC

A. Silva (#1), 9/25

13

Michael Bisping

UFC

 

14

Yoshihiro Akiyama

 

 

15

Ronaldo “Jacare” de Sousa

DREAM

 

16

Chael Sonnen

UFC

Filho (#2) 11/3

17

Demian Maia

UFC

Quarry (#18), 11/15

18

Nate Quarry

UFC

Maia (#17), 11/15

19

Joey Villasenor

EliteXC?

 

20

Cung Le

Strikeforce

 

21

Jorge Santiago

 

 

22

Chris Leben

UFC

 

23

Jason Macdonald

UFC

 

24

Martin Kampman

UFC

 

25

Vitor Belfort

Affliction

Mousasi (#10) 1/24

 

Others Considered: Ricardo Almeida, Rousimar Palhares, Dean Lister, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Frank Trigg

Best Non-UFC Fighters

Here are the best non-UFC fighters.  This shows where the UFC is stacked and where they lack.  There competition is mainly in Affliction at heavyweight and DREAM at lightweight.  Here are the best non-UFC guys that the UFC should look to sign if possible. 

Rank

Heavyweight

Light Heavy

Middleweight

Welterweight

Lightweight

1

Fedor Emelianenko

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

Paulo Filho

Jake Shields

Takanori Gomi

2

Andrei Arlovski

Ricardo Arona

Matt Lindland

Carlos Condit

Shinya Aoki

3

Josh Barnett

Rafael Feijao

Robbie Lawler

Jay Hieron

JZ Calvancante

4

Tim Sylvia

Vladimir Matyushenko

Kazuo Misaki

Nick Thompson

Eddie Alvarez

5

Ben Rothwell

Babalu Sobral

Gegard Mousasi

Mach Sakurai

Mitsuhiro Ishida

6

Mirko Cro Cop

Tito Ortiz

Vitor Belfort

Mike Pyle

Joachim Hansen

7

Roy Nelson

Steve Cantwell

 “Jacare” de Sousa

 

Tatsuya Kawajiri

8

Aleks Emelianenko

Brian Stann

Jason Miller

 

Josh Thomson

9

Antonio Silva

 

Melvin Manhoef

 

Gilbert Melendez

10

Alistair Overeem

 

Murilio Rua

 

Vitor Ribeiro

11

 

 

Cung Le

 

Jamie Varner

12

 

 

Denis Kang

 

Ryan Schultz

13

 

 

Joey Villasenor

 

KJ Noons

14

 

 

Frank Shamrock

 

Nick Diaz

15

 

 

Yoshihiro Akiyama

 

Caol Uno

16

 

 

Jorge Santiago

 

 

17

 

 

Chael Sonnen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Fighting Organizations Rankings

I have ranked the organizations before, but here is the updated rankings of who has the best product.

1. UFC – Still the best of the best.  Has more ranked fighters by far.  Has the most recognizable names in the likes of Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, Shogun, Wanderlei Silva, Rampage Jackson, Anderson Silva, Rich Franklin, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Georges St. Pierre, Matt Hughes and B.J. Penn.

2. Affliction – By far the best competitive heavyweight divison with Fedor, Tim Sylvia, Aleksander Emelianenko, Josh Barnett, Ben Rothwell, Pedro Rizzo and maybe Arlovski.  Not to mention Lindland, Whitehead and Babalu. 

3. WEC –  The WEC has some star power, but is in the UFC’s shadow majorly.  The growing featherweight divison will help them as will the bantamweight with star Miguel Torres.  Guys like Condit, Stann, Filho and Faber give WEC the name recognition.  WEC still seems to be the minor league UFC.  Their success will not come with the bigger fighters, but with lightweights, featherweights and bantamweights. 

4. EliteXC –  Their CBS deal will help them.  Kimbo can be a star.  They do great partnering with other promotions like Strikeforce and allowing guys to fight in DREAM. 

5. DREAM – DREAM 1-3 have been solid with solid fighters especially lightweights and middleweights. Has guys like Aoki and Ishida as well as Caol Uno and Kwajiri. Has other guys fight for them like Alvarez, Gilbert Melendez, JZ Calvancante, Diaz, Cro Cop, Jason Mayhem Miller, Manhoef, Denis Kang, Mark Hunt, Jacare, Kid Yamamoto, Sakurai and Hansen. 

6. Strikeforce – They have a few good fighters which helps them greatly.  They have Thomson, Le and Melendez

7. World Victory Road –  They don’t have an American appeal, but they do have Gomi and some other solid Japanese fighters.  Also they have Kazuo Misaki, Kevin Randlemen, Jeff Monson, and Nick Thompson