Since Georges St. Pierre retired, the welterweight division has been one of the most volatile weight classes in the UFC. Without a dominant champion, the belt has been passed from contender to contender, setting up an era where uncertainty is the only certainty. Still, a competitive contender tier makes this an exciting time for the 170-pound class.
Welterweight is the smallest “big” division, as the men fighting within it are still usually larger than your average guy on the street. Among its top ranks are former D1 wrestling champions, renowned kick boxers, and multiple-time world champions in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Let’s take a look at the current state of the welterweight division. Remember, you can bet on your favorite fighters with the UFC odds at BookMaker.eu.
Weight Limit: 170 pounds
Average Height: 71.5” (5’11.5”)
Average Reach: 73.6” (6’2.6”)
Current UFC Rankings (As of June 1, 2017)
Champion: Tyron Woodley
1. Demian Maia
2. Stephen Thompson
3. Robbie Lawler
4. Carlos Condit
5. Jorge Masvidal
6. Neil Magny
7. Dong Hyun Kim
8. Donald Cerrone
9. Gunnar Nelson
10. Kamaru Usman
11. Tarec Saffiedine
12. Ryan LaFlare
13. Santiago Ponzinibbio
14. Matt Brown
15. Leon Edwards
Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley now knows who he’ll be defending his title against next. Jiu-jitsu ace Demian Maia earned verbal confirmation from Dana White that he’d be the next title challenger after a close win over Jorge Masvidal at UFC 211. It’s an intriguing style matchup pitting Woodley’s NCAA wrestling credentials against Maia’s world-class BJJ skills. A date and time have yet to be determined.
MMA Odds and Ends
Robbie Lawler already owns one Fight of the Year under his belt for his epic thriller against Rory MacDonald in 2015. He nearly secured another one against Carlos Condit in 2017. Now, all the cards are lined up for another classic with fellow warrior Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC 213 on July 8.
Considering how both men love to throw down and insist on going out on their shields, there’s no way this bout disappoints. The UFC odds at BookMaker.eu opened with Lawler as a -150 favorite, with Cerrone at +120.
Fighters to Watch
Keep an eye out for Jorge Masvidal. Though he came up short against Demian Maia in their title eliminator, the decision could have easily gone in his favor. He’s still right in the mix for a shot at the strap.
His position is surprising since he moved up from lightweight after failing to establish himself at 155 pounds. A matchup with Stephen Thompson makes sense from a rankings perspective and would be a ton of fun since they’re both elite strikers.
Best Striker: Stephen Thompson. “Wonderboy” is an American Kickboxing master, and his standup is as aesthetically pleasing as it is dangerous. Fighting in a bouncy side stance, he can throw every kick in the book, from crisp sidekicks to flashy question mark kicks. He wouldn’t look out of place in a Van Damme movie.
Best Grappler: Demian Maia. Ask any fighter in the UFC who the best BJJ practitioner in MMA is, and Maia’s name will inevitably come up. It’s not just the multiple world championships he has at the most prestigious grappling competitions in the world - it’s how he’s adapted these skills to MMA. Though many casual fans aren’t into a grinding style, watching Maia wrestle and advance positions is a joy.
Best Prospects: Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone can’t really be considered a prospect, but the former lightweight is a perfect 4-0 since moving to 170 pounds. Nobody expected him to be this good, this fast. He’s using his speed advantage against bigger men in brilliant ways, and a title shot seems only a few wins away.
The GreatsUnquestionably, it’s Georges St. Pierre. And he’s slated to come back sometime in 2017. Though he hasn’t fought in years, he’s still the biggest star the division has to offer. At 34, he might be slightly long in the tooth, but considering how dominant the French-Canadian was it’s impossible not to be intrigued by his return.
The Future of Welterweight
It’s an interesting landscape, to be sure. Most of the top fighters still have a few good years left, but there aren’t many under-30 fighters right now to really get excited about. But there will always be new blood to fill the ranks, and the old guard should hold strong for now
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