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 89: Bisping vs. Leben Thoughts

  • The Fight of the Night was no doubt the slugfest between Paul Taylor and Chris Lytle.  That was  ahard bout to judge.  The decision went to Lytle, but I probably would have given it to Taylor due to his aggressivness.  By the way, how did a judge score that fight 30-27 in favor of Lytle?  I am not mad that Lytle got the decision win, I just wish someone didn’t have to lose a fight that is so close
  • Marcus Davis looked really good and Paul Kelly looked very uimpressive.  I think Marcus will be granted his plea to fight at UFC 93 in Ireland.  Looks like a Lytle vs. Davis match up is coming.
  • Sokoudjou looked impressive to start, he throw hard punches and hard kicks.  However, if Sokoudjou wants to keep winning he needs to work on some cardio.  He wore out.  Cane knew this coming in and weatehred the storm.  Cane is for real folks.  He has some power and a chin.  He is a guy to watch out for in the light heavyweight divison.
  • I thought Brandon Vera looked better than he did against Andy.  However, Jardine got the split decision win.  I probably would have given the decision to Vera, but that is the way it goes.
  • The main event was solid.  Bispin was the clear crowd favorite.  He clearly won that fight.  No, not in typical Bisping fashion, but he handled himself well against Leben and proved he is a serious contender.  However, Leben looked solid.  He looked better than ever. 

UFC 89: Bisping vs. Leben Results

  • Michael Bisping defeats Chris Leben via Unanimous Decision
  • Keith Jardine defeats Brandon Vera via Split Decision
  • Luiz Cane defeats Rameau Sokoudjou via TKO (Strikes) in Round Two
  • Chris Lytle defeats Paul Taylor via Unanimous Decision
  • Marcus Davis defeats Paul Kelly via Submission (Guillotine Choke) in Round Two
  • Dan Hardy defeats Akihiro Gono via Split Decision
  • Shane Carwin defeats Neil Wain via TKO (Strikes) in Round One
  • David Bielkheden defeats Jess Liaudin via Unanimous Decision
  • Terry Etim defeats Sam Stout via Unanimous Decision
  • Jim Miller defeats David Baron via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) in Round Three
  • Per Eklund defeats Samy Schiavo via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) in Round Three
  • My UFC 89 Predictions

    Some of these are very tough picks.  This is a solid card, which is by far better than UFC 90.  I will probably stink up my picks because there are some tough fights here.  From top to bottom this is a good card.  Maybe not the big names that pay per view cards often carry, but to the serious MMA fan even fights on this undercard are appealing.

    Michael Bisping vs. Chris Leben

    I think Bisping is a serious contender at 185 lbs.  He has looked impressive, but he has not fought anyone of Chris Leben’s calibur yet at 185.  He handily beat Jason Day and Charles McCarthy, but Leben is better than those guys.  Leben can strike and he has an iron chin.  I think when it comes down to it we will see that the difference is Bisping’s conditioning and his ability to take Leben down and work some ground and pound.  If Bisping tries to exchange with Leben it could be goodnight “Count”.  However, Bisping is hailed the best UK fighter, and is likely the TUF 8 coach.  I look for Bisping to win by ref stoppage in round 3. 

    Brandon Vera vs. Keith Jardine

    This is a very tough fight to pick and here is why.  Brandon Vera made the drop from heavyweight to light heavyweight, which I think is a good move.  He debuted at 205 and looked less than impressive ina  win over Reese Andy.  I do not know if Vera is struggling as a fighter right now or if the weight cut got to him that fight.  I would expect a much better Vera Saturday.  Jardine is a tough guy to figure.  He has at times looked like a top contender.  He has beaten Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin.  However, he got beat handily and quickly by Wanderlei Silva and Houston Alexander.  So is Jardine a top 5 fighter?  Or is he a “gatekeeper”?  My pick for this fight is not concrete, and I would not be shocked for it to go either way, however, I pick Brandon “The Truth” Vera by unanimous decision.  It would be great for Vera’s career if he finished quickly and in exciting fashion like the Vera of old. 

    Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou vs. Luiz Arthur Cane

    Argghhh.  Another hard fight.  For the same reasons as above.  How good is Sokoudjou?  He has impressive KO wins over Arona and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, which put him on the MMA map.  He then lost in his UFC debut to Lyoto Machida.  There is no shame in that, Machida is a top guy.  Then he came and dismantled Nakamura, who was unable to answer the bell after round 1.  This fight will show how good Sokoudjou is.  Many people may look over this fight, but this may be the best match up on the card.  A lot of people do not know who Luiz Cane is, but he is a phenomenal striker.  He devestated Jason Lambert.  Anyways, I will go with Sokoudjou by 2nd round KO. 

    Marcus Davis vs. Paul Kelly

    Paul Kelly is tough. He has an iron chin, great wrestling and good ground and pound skills.  He isn’t afraid to trade blows either as he showed against Paul Taylor.  I think when it comes down to it Marcus Davis is way more experienced.  That will be the difference.  I pick Davis by late first round submission.

    Shane Carwin vs. Neil Wain

    Quite honestly, I know very little about Neil Wain.  However, I do know that Shane Carwin is one of the top heavyweight prospects.  I do know he has knockout power.  I do know that he reportedly has some of the best ground and pound skills.  I think we will see it on display.  I pick Carwin by ref stoppage in round 1.

    Dan Hardy vs. Akihiro Gono

    Dan Hardy is the British newcomer who is highly touted by many.  He will make his debut against a tough Akihiro Gono.  I have no idea how to predict this fight.  Hardy is touted, but looking at his record, I don’t know what there is to tout.  Gono has tons of experience, but he too has struggled at times.  I believe that home octagon advantage could play a factor and help Hardy who will be a sure crowd favorite.  The winner of this fight will be thrust right into the top ten of the stacked welterweight divison.  I think that Gono wins a tough decision victory.

    David Baron vs. Jim Miller

    I don’t like this match up.  These are two good signings being placed opposite one another in their debuts.  I wouldn’t mind the fight, but I’d like to see both guys have a chance to win one first.  Only one will win.  David Baron gained fame with his win over Hayato “Mach” Sakurai.  He also boasts wins over Dan Hardy and another UFC recent signee in Abdul Mohammed.  Jim Miller is a former IFL fighter, whose lone career loss came to Frank Edgar.  This should be a tough match between two well rounded fighters.  In the end I think David Baron will win by decision.

    Chris Lytle vs. Paul Taylor

    Both these guys are tough as nails.  Paul Taylor may be under the radar.  He has a 2-2 record in the UFC, but that is deceiving.  His losses came to Paul Kelly and Marcus Davis.  He was very competitive in both fights, in fact Davis’ submission was seen as a come from behind victory.  Chris Lytle is a very tough dude.  I honestly do not know if he will be able to handle Paul Taylor’s pace.  Both guys like to stand and strike.  Chris Lytle’s nickname is “lights out”.  Lytle has fought some top names in the game such as Koscheck, Alves, Hughes, Serra, Parisyan, Lawler, Nick Diaz, Shonie Carter, and Joe Riggs.  The problem is he has lost to all those dudes.  The point is this, Lytle is a good fighter, but he is not a great fighter.  Don’t get mad at me, that is what his record says.  He has not beaten a top notch fighter except an early win in his career over Kazuo Misaki.  He has some solid wins over guys like Matt Brown, Savant Young, Pat Healy, Tiki Ghosn and Pete Spratt, but those guys are not top guys.  The question as I pick this fight is which group Paul Taylor fits into.  I think Taylor is good and could win this, but Chris Lytle is the prototypical UFC gatekeeper, the top guys beat him and the second tier guys don’t.  I think Taylor has a future in the UFC still, but I think this fight ends with a Lytle KO is round 2.

    Jess Liaudin vs. David Bielkheden

    Poor David Bielkheden.  He made his UFC debut against a Diego Sanchez with something to prove and he could beat up at UFC 82. Now he drops to lightweight against another welterweight who has dropped to lightweight.  I think it could be an exciting match as the loser may be out of the UFC.  I think that Liaudin will pull out a win here in a unaimous decision. 

    Terry Etim vs. Sam Stout

    Terry Etim was very hyped coming into the UFC.  He hasn’t lived up to it at all.  He won his debut, but scored losses to Gleison Tibau and Rich Clementi following.  Sam Stout is tough as his fights with Spencer Fisher indicate.  I would not be surprised if he wins this fight that we see the rubber match of those fights.  Terry Etim has great submissions.  If he losses he is out of the UFC.  I suspect Etim will win by submission, even though it does not seem that Stout is very suseptable to submissions.  Etim by submission, round 1.  If it stands though Stout wins. 

    Per Eklund vs. Samy Schiavo

    This could be a good fight.  Schiavo may be underrated.  He lost to Clay Guida badly, but Schiavo has excellent strikes and solid submissions.  I think Schiavo will be too much for Eklund and will finish the fight by TKO in round 2.

    When Will They Fight Again?

    Pretty much the UFC has booked out all the way through UFC 90.  That means that they will have to find fighters to fill in the gaps on November’s UFC 91, December’s UFC 92, and the Ultimate Fighter Finale.  Unless the UFC adds another card somewhere along the way, that means there are about 25 fights to book before year end.  There are slightly more than 30 fighters who are not scheduled for a fight as we speak.  I say that because I assume that some of the guys that fight in UFC 88 will be ready and will in fact fight again before year’s end.  For example, it may not be out of the question to see Chuck Liddell fight again in December if he wins against Rashad Evans and does not get hurt.  With that said, let’s evaluate the guys in queue.

    • Gabriel Gonzaga –  The biggest named heavyweight not scheduled yet.  I say that assuming Lesnar vs. Kongo will take place at UFC 91.  Gonzaga ought to be in action sooner than later, but against who?  Perhaps Heath Herring would be a good match or even Jake O’Brien.
    • Cain Velasquez –  I put him here, but I hear a solid rumor that he will fight Antoni Hardonk at UFC 90.  I have also heard that the UFC is having a hard time finding a willing opponent.
    • Heath Herring –  Honestly, I think he will sit out the rest of the year, but may get on a January or February card.  He took a beating from Lesnar and needs time to heal. 
    • Mark Coleman –  He has been hurt, but has been rumored to be coming back.  For a while there were rumors of him fighting at 205 against Shogun.  He could be back on the December card for his return to the octagon.
    • Forrest Griffin –  I am gonna jump all over Griffin and the UFC until the schedule a title defense.  This belt has been defended scarcely.  I think title holder have an obligation to defend their belt.  Griffin fought in July, he ought to be ready by year’s end.  We could see him fight Liddell if he wins.  We could see him fight Machida if Machida finishes Thiago Silva quickly at UFC 89.  Some have even speculated that he could fight Wanderlei, but I doubt that yet.  I think Machida is the number one cotnender today.  I expect to see Forrest fight in December.
    • Quinton “Rampage” Jackson –  There have been two rumors floating around about Jackson.  Some have recently spoke of a Jackson vs. Wanderlei III fight to take place in November.  I think that is likely.  The fight is in Portland, not far from where Jackson trains.  The fans want it.  The other fight has been a speculated Shogun re-match in December.  I guess Jackson’s next fight will depend on his legal status.
    • Wanderlei Silva –  He has been told to prepare for a December return, but don’t count out the November fight with Jackson.  I expect to see Wanderlei before year’s end, or at least I hope to. 
    • Mauricio “Shogun” Rua –  He is recovering from an injury and says he will be ready by December.  He says he is fighting Rampage, but that doesn’t seem too credible.  I am most certain he will be on the December card though.
    • Stephan Bonnar –  I also think he will be on the December card as he recovers from an injury.  Against who?  I have no idea.   I have a prediction though: Steve Cantwell or Brian Stann from the WEC.  The UFC has talked about the heavier weight classes coming over to the UFC.  Bonnar would make a good match for either of those guys.  Or even a guy like UFC newcomer Jon Jones.
    • Demian Maia –  We could see him as early as November.  I think that he could match up with about anybody, but top middleweight contenders are booked up right now.
    • Nate Quarry –  He broke his orbital bone recently and will be out for a bit. 
    • Kendall Grove –  He just opened a gym and is enjoying fatehrhood, he may be off for a while too, but I’d like to see him fight soon.
    • Amir Sadollah –  Amir will be in the ring before year’s end.  He could possible fight on the TUF finale card.
    • C.B. Dolloway –  I haven’t heard whether he will fight again in 2008, but I don’t see why he couldn’t. 
    • Matthew Riddle –  I would expect to see him back soon as well.  He looked good against Dante at the TUF 7 finale. 
    • Jon Fitch –  He will be back soon against a top contender, but I don’t know who that will be. He could fight on the December card.  He gained tons of respect from the GSP fight.
    • Josh Koscheck –  He should be back in November.  The options are numerous for him.  He is just a win or two away from a title shot, which he could have before the end of 2009.  He must get in line though behind B.J. Penn and then the winner of the Sanchez vs. Alves fight will get the next title shot probably in the summer of 2009. 
    • Mike Swick –  He says he will be ready in December following elbow surgery.
    • Chris Wilson – He looked good at UFC 87.  He could return before year’s end on an undercard.
    • Chris Lytle –  I don’t know how he is doing following his blood bath loss to Koscheck, but I presume he could fight this year.
    • Dustin Hazelett – He has looked good lately.  I suspect he too will fight this year.
    • Luigi Fiorvanti – I hadn’t heard anything on the Luigi front, but he could be back soon too.
    • Anthony Johnson –  He says he will be ready to go by October following the eye poke.
    • Rory Markham – I am really shocked that he won’t be on the UFC 90 card in his hometown of Chicago.  He lobbied for that event, but apparently won’t get it, but I guess he could still be added. 
    • Kevin Burns –  How about Burns vs. Markham at UFC 90?
    • Brad Blackburn – He has a broken hand, so he won’t be ready I don’t think.
    • Roger Huerta – Grease monkey may be back, I’d like to see him get beat by Edgar. 
    • Frank Edgar –  I am pretty sure we will see him by year’s end and probably against one of the guys on this list.
    • Matt Wiman – I am looking forward to seeing him return.  How about Wiman vs. Stephens?
    • Cole Miller –  He looked good against Gurgel and should be back soon.
    • Jeremy Stephens –  See above.
    • Manny Gamburyan – He could drop to 145 in the WEC.
    • Rob Emerson – He had a nice KO over Manny.  He could fight again, but if he fights any better competition and he will get beat