UFC 154 Results: Top 10 Welterweights in the UFC

Steven Rondina@srondinaFeatured ColumnistNovember 18, 2012

UFC 154 Results: Top 10 Welterweights in the UFC

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    As you probably noticed, UFC 154 took place last night and had all four of October's top 10 welterweights atop the card. Now that Martin Kampmann got his face punched off and Georges St-Pierre has returned, it is time for us to start tweaking our list of the top 10 welterweights in the UFC (and really, the top 10 in MMA as a whole).

    This list sees the returns of some old favorites and the rising and falling of some of today's stars. So who makes the list and who falls back into obscurity? Who gets the undeniable honor of being named among the best in their division by Bleacher Report?

    Find out right here!  

No. 10: Dong-Hyun Kim

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    Before people start freaking out, yes, the fight with Demian Maia was considered here. However, there is just no getting around the fact that Kim's loss to Maia was in the same vein as Patrick Cote's loss to Anderson Silva.

    It was a freak random accident that says very little about the actual skill of the fighter. Additionally, unlike Cote, Kim did not need a year and a half to recover from a surgically-repaired knee.

    Dong Hyun Kim is perhaps the best judo practitioner in men's MMA right now. He is also perhaps the most physically imposing welterweight there is. He is a big scary dude with takedowns for days and one of the best top games around, as he demonstrated in his thorough beating of Paulo Thiago.

    That said, his spot on this list is far from secure, as Maia, Rory MacDonald and Diego Sanchez are all breathing down his neck and would likely step over him with a win. For the moment, though, he is a top 10 welterweight.

No. 9: Martin Kampmann

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    Kampmann did not plummet from the No. 4 spot simply because he was Rock'em Sock'em'ed by Johny Hendricks. Kampmann is 3-3 over the last two years, and his losses have come against Hendricks, Diego Sanchez (who lost to Jake Ellenberger and BJ Penn) and Jake Shields (who has lost to Jake Ellenberger).

    Not only is he 3-3, but he honestly should have lost to Thiago Alves, who had him busted up before inexplicably sticking his neck into Kampmann's armpit, giving him a free guillotine choke. He was also badly rocked by Jake Ellenberger when the two fought, but came back to knock out his younger opponent.

    This is not to hate on Kampmann by any means. He has beaten some of the best ever. That said, the shared opponents angle of ranking him against other fighters puts him definitively behind the other folks on this list.

No. 8: BJ Penn

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    While Penn is just 1-1-1 in his three most recent fights at welterweight, his raw skills are utterly beyond question.

    In terms of striking, Penn is arguably the top welterweight in MMA. His Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is elite. His cardio is downright amazing when he wants it to be (which unfortunately, is only some of the time).

    Ranking him this high when he is over a year separated from his most recent fight, a decision loss to Nick Diaz, is undeniably rooted in past performance. (After all, the stat sheet still says he is 1-3-1 in his last five.) That said, his past performance is on such an otherworldly level that it can't be ignored.

    His next fight, against fast-rising prospect Rory MacDonald, will ultimately show just how good Penn really is at this point. Hopefully, he brings his A-Game and shows the world what makes him the clear-cut top lightweight of all time.

No. 7: Jake Ellenberger

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    In terms of shared opponents, Jake Ellenberger gets the nod for the No. 7 spot here over Martin Kampmann. While he lost to Kampmann in June, even the most ardent of Kampmann fans (do those exist?) would agree that Ellenberger has the higher ceiling at this point and the superior resume at this time.

    Jake Ellenberger is just 27 years old, but has been in the UFC for over three years now. He owns a strong 7-2 record in the Octagon, and one of those losses came in his promotional debut against Carlos Condit. Ellenberger, though seriously overmatched, still brought Condit to the brink and would lose via split decision.

    Since being knocked out by Kampmann, he has beaten Jay Hieron, who is a member of the “Nick Diaz Ducked a Fight With Me” Club with Carlos Condit, Georges St-Pierre and Braulio Estima. He also owns notable wins over Diego Sanchez and Jake Shields (two men who beat Martin Kampmann).

    His next opponent remains a mystery, but the young knockout artist could reasonably be slotted against most top welterweights without question.

No. 6: Jon Fitch

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    Jon Fitch, a longtime fixture atop welterweight (and some pound-for-pound) top 10s, ended up dropping hard when he had back-to-back non-winning fights against BJ Penn and Johnny Hendricks. He is not back to where he was quite yet, but he is certainly on the rise.

    Jon Fitch has always been about the belt. That is commendable, and until the loss to Hendricks, he always had a resume that warranted a fight with St-Pierre. The only thing was, nobody actually wants to watch him fight because of his less-than-exciting, lay-and-pray fighting style.

    It took him a while, but he finally figured out that popularity is an important factor in getting a title shot. So, when he was matched against hot prospect Erick Silva, he decided he would stop simply blanketing opponents and would instead punch the crap out of them.

    Fitch pounded Erick Silva. Hard. He made the supposedly tough-as-nails hotshot look like a rank amateur and had him barely wanting to stand back up after the first two rounds. It was the best Jon Fitch we've seen in the Octagon to date and is one we can look forward to seeing at UFC 156 against Demian Maia.

No. 5: Josh Koscheck

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    With Martin Kampmann getting knocked out cold after 46 seconds, Josh Koscheck returns to the top five. While the TUF 1 product is just three fights removed from his loss to Georges St-Pierre in 2010, he remains the division's second-best wrestler and still knows how to knock an opponent out.

    Koscheck got the bad end of a split decision loss when he fought UFC 154 co-main event winner Johnny Hendricks at the UFC on Fox event back in May, but many (including this writer) had the bout scored in favor of Koscheck.

    Koscheck was scheduled to fight Jake Ellenberger in September, but had to pull out of the fight after hurting his back. He is currently in an awkward position from a matchmaking perspective, as he is still a very strong fighter that warrants a comparably strong opponent. However, there is no getting around the fact that the UFC does not want to set him up for another shot at Georges St-Pierre after the lopsidedness of their last bout.

No. 4: Nick Diaz

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    Still suspended. Still irresponsible. Still incapable of making adjustments mid-fight. Still unable to formulate, never even mind stick to, a gameplan.

    More importantly, still amazingly skilled. Still heavy-handed. Still in possession of an excellent grappling game. Still a top-five welterweight.

    There is just no getting around the fact that Nick Diaz is one of the most experienced and all-around best welterweights. Granted, he is still three months away from completing his suspension and will likely need another month or two after that before he can fight again.

    That, though, is not what this list is about. This list is about the top 10 welterweights in the UFC. Nick Diaz, simply, is an easy pick for the No. 4 spot.

No. 3: Carlos Condit

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    The now-former interim welterweight champ does not fall too far down the rankings after being thoroughly dominated by Georges St-Pierre in UFC 154's main event. In the same vein as Chael Sonnen and Rashad Evans, Carlos Condit is still a very scary dude, even though he lost.

    Condit is still one of the best knockout artists in the welterweight division (though the guy on the next slide may now be the best) and has as much raw power as anyone. He probably has the most well-rounded, diverse striking game of all the fighters on this list, and he has very underrated submission skills (mainly because his stand-up is so good).

    He is a formidable fighter and really should be the favorite against any of the opponents he may face next. It will be exciting to see who he is matched against next and watch how he reacts to his first real loss since being choked out by Pat Healy in 2006.

No. 2: Johny Hendricks

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    I had a great deal of trouble trying to figure out whether I should move Hendricks up to the No. 2 spot or stick with Carlos Condit. While I hate to make decisions based on this, what ultimately inspired me to slot Hendricks here was the “this guy beat that guy” game.

    Hendricks knocked Martin Kampmann's block off. Kampmann beat Condit in 2009. It is still totally debatable who is better between these two, but a call had to be made.

    As stated, Hendricks scored a huge knockout in the opening minute of the UFC 154 co-main event over Kampmann. This came off a semi-controversial decision victory over Josh Koscheck and another big knockout of Jon Fitch

    While his doubters (myself included) called his rise to stardom a product of equal parts skill and luck, it is hard to argue with a five-fight winning streak that includes three dynamite first-round knockouts. Now he just has to wait and see what Georges St-Pierre does to determine if he will get his chance for the welterweight belt.

No. 1: Georges St-Pierre

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    No surprise here.

    Georges St-Pierre is unquestionably, undeniably and now indisputably the greatest welterweight fighter in the world. No doubt about it.

    Carlos Condit gave GSP the fight of his life. Outside a tentative first round, Condit made the champ work for every point on the judge's score cards, threatening with submissions and almost pulling off a shocking upset when he landed a big headkick in the third round.

    Ultimately, though, GSP reminded the world that he is a smart, technical striker and a dominating wrestler. His knee seemed to be of no trouble, and even if he gets a lengthy medical suspension to nurse his badly-bruised face, he is a heavy favorite against any potential opponent.