UFC on FX 2: Thiago Alves, Martin Kampmann and the Best Welterweights in the UFC
With UFC 144 now a fond memory the focus must now be turned to UFC's second FX card which will hit this Friday.
The main event is a bout between Thiago Alves and Martin Kampmann, which is almost guaranteed to turn into a striking war and give the fans fireworks. The winner isn't in line for a title shot and that proves how stacked the division is.
There is so much talent crammed into the division that it might be a while before the winner even sees title contention. It would be ludicrous to try to rank most of the fighters who are in the division, but there is a certain pool of talent that keeps coming up.
Other than the two men who will face off against each other this Friday, here is the top talent at 170 pounds.
He may be out for a time because of his injuries, but the man is still worth putting in the list.
St-Pierre is still the champion and hasn't tasted defeat in the UFC since his knockout loss to Matt Serra. Other then Anderson Silva and arguably Jon Jones, he is the most dominant force in MMA right now.
When he returns, he will be fighting the interim champion as he should.
There isn't a way that the welterweight division and St-Pierre could be mentioned without having Carlos Condit's name thrown into the mix.
At UFC 143 he did what he needed to, to convince the judges that he deserved the victory over Nick Diaz and win the interim title. He might get another fight in before his match with GSP, but he also might opt to sit on the sidelines and wait.
If he does take a fight and win, it will only keep him at the top of the division while he waits to fight the champ.
Hendricks isn't an imposing figure as could be expected of someone who got the nickname "happy beard guy" at one point.
He has only been defeated once in the Octagon and that was against Rick Story who was on the middle of a win streak when it happened.
Since then, Hendricks has won his last three fights with the last one giving him the momentum needed to make this list. At UFC 141 it took Hendricks less then half a minute to KO top contender Jon Fitch.
It was enough to net him a main card fight with Josh Koscheck, and if he wins that, who knows what could be next.
This list wouldn't be complete without having the UFC's most despised welterweight on it. Fans may love to hate Koscheck, but he wins and because of it gets a main spot on cards.
His last fight against Mike Pierce didn't help his case, but everyone has off nights and even Koscheck admitted in an interview with Ariel Helwani that he wasn't motivated for the fight. That kind of comment isn't going to endear him to fans, but at this point that might not be possible anyway.
A lot of fans just want Koscheck to go away, but as long as he keeps on being victorious, that isn't going to happen.
Jake Ellenberger started out as a dark horse in the division. No one knew his name, and he didn't really stand out except for the close fight he had with Carlos Condit in his first UFC bout.
He quickly changed that perception as he was able to take out a string of ever improving opponents and finally caught on fire after his quick knockout of Jake Shields. He then scored a victory over Diego Sanchez though not without some scares and now sits at one of the best fighters in the division.
Martin Kampmann is getting a chance to be in yet another main event.
While he has lost two out of his last three fights, it has been more of a case of bad luck than anything else. He lost close decisions to Diego Sanchez and Jake Shields that could have easily gone his way.
Now he has another chance to keep moving upward in the rankings this weekend and considering his opponent is Thiago Alves, the fight shouldn't end in a decision.
Thiago Alves was once known for two things. Knocking out opponents and missing weight.
He still hasn't shown that he can cut the pounds properly yet with him stumbling at UFC 138, but he is improving different facets of his game and actually won his first fight in the UFC by submission recently.
He will need to be multi-faceted if he wants to keep climbing the ladder and get another shot at the title.
His fight against Kampmann is a great opportunity to do so.
Diego Sanchez is in a tough place. While most of the fighters on this list have faced to the champion or several contenders, Sanchez has almost faced everyone on this list.
It is a testament to his will as a warrior and his desire to keep competing. The problem is that there are few fighters left for him to face. He may have to fight lower tier fighters and string together a few wins before there is another viable and marketable, challenge for him to face.
Until then, he may be in no man's land.
Hathaway competed once in 2011, but his overall record is 5-1 with a loss to gamey gatekeeper Mike Pyle.
Before that he was able to beat a decent string of fighters including Diego Sanchez. When he comes back in 2012 he might be able to rekindle the buzz he once had.
He will face a tough opponent in Pascal Krauss on UFC on FOX 3. If he can succeed on such a high level, it would be just what he needed.
If Martin Kampmann has had some rough decisions then Pierce's must have been heartbreaking. He has lost close split decisions to both Josh Koscheck and Johny Hendricks. If he had won both fights his future might look a little different.
Instead of being a tough fighter who tests the top talent, he could be fighting the champion for the belt.
Unfortunately, Pierce's style of fighting, which incorporates his wrestling, just doesn't convince judges and doesn't finish fights either. That may leave him with a less then stellar record, but it doesn't make him any less dangerous.
Any welterweight who underestimates him might find themselves with a loss at the end of the night.