Mutiny in the Middleweight and Welterweight Divisions
By Christopher Jester
It has been too long since the UFC Middleweight and Welterweight divisions seemed interesting. UFC Fight Night 36 was testament to how much that has changed. Lyoto Machida back in title contention again? Yes, after cruising to a five-round decision victory over Gegard Mousasi. But there was another challenger who proved how dangerous he can be too in Jacare Souza.
A year ago, these contenders would only be a yawn of “whatever”. Everyone assumed that Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre would simply destroy all obstacles. Yet, these longtime champions are no longer carrying the belts. The gates are open for worthy contenders. The problem was not that there were not any challengers. It was that Silva and GSP made any challenge to their belts seem pedestrian. They reigned over their divisions like gods over men. They could smite any opposition and they did just that for years.
At least they did until Chris Weidman and Johny Hendricks defied those same gods in a Kratos and Achilles type fashion. Weidman actually capitalized in a herculean effort to knockout Silva to become the middleweight champion. If Hendricks is Achilles then his infamous heel was the controversial decision by judges in his fight against St-Pierre.
The bottom line is that the floodgates are now open. Those two men made those divisions relevant again. Weidman showed that Silva was human twice; and Hendricks made GSP second-guess his stance in the UFC. Their performances were a beacon to everyone looking to make a title run. This is it, this it, the time to go for gold.
Vitor Belfort may get the next crack at UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman but he has some sharks nipping at that next spot. Lyoto Machida and Jacare Souza both showed why they should be frontrunners for a contender’s spot and should fight one another to challenge the UFC 185lb champ.
The welterweight division has a little bit more cleaning up to do. Much of those janitorial duties will come to a head when Johnny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler fight for the vacant welterweight championship. The rest will be up to the likes of Rory MacDonald, Demian Maia, Erick Silva, Tarec Saffeidine, Dong Hyun Kim, and others.
There are no dominant champions at these weight classes. Now it becomes entertaining once again, as anything goes. What will become of these divisions rests on the laurels on what its champions will do. Will Chris Weidman dominant the division much like his predecessor? Will Johny Hendricks capture the title he was so close to having a few months ago? These champions will captain their divisions as long as they can, but their mutinous contenders will be there to usurp the mantle.
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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