Yesterday, I broke down the official UFC middleweight rankings that were released following UFC 163. Today, I’ve set my sights on the welterweight division.
Georges St. Pierre sits firmly atop the rankings, and rightfully so. He will go down as one of the most dominant champions the UFC has ever seen, having avenged the only losses of his career against Matt Hughes and Matt Serra, and more recently returning from potentially career-ending knee surgery to secure his 7th and 8th successful title defenses. While his fights may not always be the most fan-friendly affairs, there is no doubt that he has repeatedly displayed his ability to adapt to a game plan that utilizes his strengths.
While St. Pierre remains the gold standard of the division, he has a stern test in front of him in heavy-handed wrestler Johny Hendricks. The Oklahoma native has put together an impressive string of victories against fellow contenders, including first round knockouts of Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann, and a spirited “fight of the night” performance over Carlos Condit. It remains to be seen whether he can out-wrestle the champion, but no one can question his power.
Waiting in the wings is St. Pierre’s friend and training partner, Rory MacDonald. He put forward an effective yet reserved effort in his win over Jake Ellenberger at UFC on Fox 8, but that sort of victory won’t have anyone clamoring to see him in a title fight any time soon. He and St. Pierre have publicly denied any interest in facing each other, but Dana White will tell you nothing is impossible. Every fighter sets out to prove he is the best in the division, and MacDonald is no different. If St. Pierre does fall to Hendricks later this year, it would be intriguing to see MacDonald step up to try to avenge the loss. An immediate rematch would be the most likely scenario, but in the world of MMA anything can happen. If Hendricks were to dethrone St. Pierre by grinding out a dominant five round decision it would remove the luster of a second bout between the two.
Assuming MacDonald’s last performance was not sufficient to warrant a title shot, who are we left with? There are still plenty of intriguing match ups to be had between top contenders, and even MacDonald could fight again around the same time that St. Pierre is competing. Carlos Condit and Martin Kampmann will face off at UFC Fight Night 27 on August 28, 2013, and bouts still need to be set for Demian Maia, Robbie Lawler, and former Strikeforce title holder Tarec Saffiedine. Jake Ellenberger’s tepid performance drops him down the ladder, but an impressive showing in his next bout could keep him with the rest of the pack. For now we’ll take Nick Diaz at his word regarding his retirement, but a bout between him and any of the aforementioned names would be high-profile enough to warrant consideration. Once again, feel free to take a look at the full Official UFC Rankings as voted by members of the media.
Who would you like to see get the next shot? How do you think Hendricks will fare against the current champ? Let us know!
Official UFC Welterweight Rankings
Champion: Georges St. Pierre
1. Johny Hendricks
2. Carlos Condit
3. Rory MacDonald
4. Demian Maia
5. Jake Ellenberger
6. Martin Kampmann
7. Nick Diaz
8. Tarec Saffiedine
9. Robbie Lawler
10. Josh Koscheck