BEHIND THE SCENES MMA ARTICLES & INTERVIEWS
Unclogging the UFC Welterweight Division
By Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester
After months of being in a metaphorical limbo, the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s welterweight division is slowly filling out again with contenders. With the return of Georges St. Pierre (hopefully) sometimes this year, pending on whether he’s performance ready by November, the welterweight division will finally unite the Welterweight championship and the Interim Welterweight Championship. Not to mention that two worthy contenders in Johny Hendricks and Martin Kampmann have recently stepped up, the welterweight division is finally back on track.
The fog of war covered the welterweight division during the entrance of Nick Diaz. After the no-show he pulled at the UFC 137 press conference, he was removed from his bout with GSP, but would later fight BJ Penn which would still act as a redeeming fight for him as it would be considered a makeshift #1 Contenders match-up. After toppling BJ Penn, Diaz called out GSP again and this only made the excitement for a GSP/Diaz match-up all the more exciting. Unfortunately, this did not happen the way the fans wanted it too.
St. Pierre would later reveal that he had an ACL injury. With an injury that would take approximately ten months to heal, the welterweight division would suffer from not having its crowned champion active. Being pulled from the fight against Diaz, St. Pierre’s opponent would have to find someone else to dance with. In comes, Carlos Condit who would fight Diaz instead for the Interim Welterweight Championship.
Diaz and Condit fought at UFC 143, and Carlos Condit became the Interim Welterweight champion. After winning, Carlos Condit opted out of fighting anyone until Georges St. Pierre healed. Only recently has he made comments about fighting someone else before GSP and that man is Martin Kampmann, a fighter he lost to in his debut with the UFC.
Finding a worthy contender in the welterweight division has been just as convoluted. With all the shuffling of match-ups among the top 5 welterweights, the UFC has been hard-pressed in making a contender in the welterweight division. Despite the fact they have had the time, now over half a year that St. Pierre has been injured, only recently has a couple of contenders become apparent.
Number one is Johny Hendricks, who first jumped on the contenders’ list when he knocked out the durable Jon Fitch back at UFC 141. Hendricks with his formidable wrestling and powerful strikes has only one loss in the UFC and that is to Rick Story. Since that loss he has gone on to defeat TJ Waldburger, Mike Pierce, Jon Fitch, and most recently Josh Koscheck.
Another man has now found his way rising through the ranks. Martin Kampmann seemed like an unlikely contender after suffering back-to-back losses to Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez; both fights where wayward judging could have affected what would have been an intensive winning streak. Since then, Kampmann has been on a tear. With his comeback win over Thiago Alves, and his recent knockout over Jake Ellenberger, who was also a contender, Kampmann is now rumored to fight Johny Hendricks at UFC 154. This fight will decide who will be #1 Contender to face the winner of the also rumored title unification bout between Georges St. Pierre and Carlos Condit at UFC 154.
There are other notable fighters who are on winning streaks or coming off impressive victories who could be considered as possible contenders in the future. The most prominent is likely Rory MacDonald who has been extraordinary in his five UFC fights, including his one loss to Carlos Condit, who he almost narrowly beat but he ended up losing via TKO in the last seconds of their bout. His last three fights against Nate Diaz, Mike Pyle, and Che Mills have all been lop-sided bouts in his favor. He recently called out BJ Penn, and he will get his wish at UFC 152. A win over the former champion will likely put him in line for a future title shot.
Erick Silva is another welterweight on the rise. Despite his DQ loss in the Carlo Prater fight, Silva has looked unstoppable since his debut in the UFC. The fight against Charlie Brenneman at UFC on FX 3 was supposed to be a tough test for him. He showed that his ground skills are not to be trifled with either by submitting Brenneman in the first round.
If you add in Siyar Bahadurzada, Mike Pyle, and even Nick Diaz, the UFC has valuable options in their welterweight division. They may not have long winning streaks that seems like is mandatory in the likes of UFC’s lightweight division, but their victories are either flashy or wars of attrition. While the top of the welterweight division is finally being settled, now it’s time for contenders to be made. Despite nearly a year without its welterweight king Georges St. Pierre, the UFC’s welterweight division is finally being unclogged from its backed up match-up complexity.
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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