In light of recent comments, it seems that change will be coming at the top end of the UFC Welterweight division. Georges St-Pierre’s days appear to be numbered, win or lose at UFC 167. His opponent Johny Hendricks has all the tools to beat GSP, but that has been said before, countless times.
The truth of the matter is that any one of the top contenders in the division could be Champion by next year; regardless of the outcome at 167. Since losing to Matt Serra by TKO at UFC 69 in 07, St-Pierre has ruled the division widely regarded as the toughest in the UFC.
Title challengers during that reign have included BJ Penn, Matt Hughes, Josh Koscheck, Nick Diaz, Jon Fitch, Carlos Condit, Thiago Alves, Nick Diaz, Snoozy McBoring Jake Shields and Matt Serra. St-Pierre will truly have nothing to prove should he win or lose against Bigg Rigg.
So who will be the new king of the 170 class once the current king relinquishes the crown? The answer to that question will undoubtedly be revealed soon, but in the meantime I’m going to speculate as much as possible.
Let’s analyze the top end of the division right now:
Johny Hendricks: The next title challenger, 15-1 record, eight knockouts and one submission.
Here’s a guy that has been a wrecking ball since childhood; as a junior wrestler he won the freestyle Championship at 165lb. As a senior he went on to win three major wrestling tournaments, the four-time All-American out of Oklahoma has always been destined for something special.
Since turning pro in MMA back in 2007, Hendricks has been near immaculate. His only loss was a very close split decision to Rick Story, and the world really took notice of Bigg Rigg when he KO’d Jon Fitch with a single punch at UFC 141. His aggressive striking and solid wrestling base could make him a formidable champ in the years to come.
Check out this Bigg Rigg highlight, courtesy of Brutha Muzone’s Youtube channel:
Carlos Condit: Former Title challenger, 29-7 record, 14 knockouts and 13 submissions.
The Natural Born Killer could well be the future of the WW division; even with his recent losses to GSP and Hendricks. My reasoning behind that stems from the fact that NBK is simply that good. He is incredibly well rounded, always in amazing shape and can finish you in so many ways.
Condit’s first 15 wins came in the first round, by either KO or submission. He was undefeated in the WEC where he was the WW Champion, and has already been the UFC interim boss at 170. The fact is that Condit could be champion by next year and if he beats Brown I’d say he has earned another shot.
Check out this badass Carlos Condit highlight by Youtube user TheBeardedSteve:
Rory MacDonald: 24 year old hot prospect, 15-1 record, six KO’s and six submissions, trains with GSP who claims he will be Champion one day.
I know Rory Mac isn’t in many people’s good books since his snoozefest of a fight against Jake Ellenberger in July, but hear me out. Now I’m not the biggest fan of MacD, but I can see a lot of potential in him; as I expect most of you can.
Ares has been competing since the age of 16 and has built his impressive record in the eight years since. Wins over Nate Diaz, Mike Pyle and BJ Penn put him in to a number one contender match in the UFC. Although the win wasn’t exciting, the younger and less experienced fighter showed that he has what it takes against the best.
Whether he will be champ is yet to be seen, GSP believes in him and his next scrap against Robbie Lawler will be a big test. Check out this Rory Mac highlight reel courtesy of Nathan Lorenz Parker’s Youtube feed:
Honorable mention goes to Jake Ellenberger and Demian Maia who could still challenge for the title, one day.