Odds of Each Top 10 UFC Welterweight Capturing the Title
Dominant champions dot the contemporary UFC landscape, but none dominate it quite like welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. Arguments can be made that the the Canadian is not the pound-for-pound king of the sport, but those arguments become less convincing when we talk sheer star power.
Equal parts icon and destroyer, GSP has truly risen to the pinnacle of the sport, and will remain there until he is knocked from his perch by an ambitious welterweight contender intent on stripping him of his UFC gold.
Here we assess the UFC welterweight class' current landscape, examining the title aspirations of each of the division's top 10 fighters, as ranked by the UFC.
Each contender has been tagged with a probability that identifies the likelihood of them ever gaining the strap. That probability is based on a number of factors, including ability, age and current station within the division.
Read on to see who is most likely to adorn welterweight gold before they call it quits.
10. Josh Koscheck
Once a mainstay near the top of any welterweight rankings, Koscheck now finds himself straddling the fringe, grasping at relevancy rather than a title shot.
At this point, it's pretty difficult envisioning any scenario in which the TUF product captures the welterweight strap. He holds two losses to the current champion, has lost his last two outings, is 2-3 over his past five and looks to be in decline at age 35.
All this adds up to very diminished chances, not to mention a long, hard road back for any sort of improbable run he is actually able to kick off.
When it comes right down to it, there is a handful of welterweights outside the top 10 with more reasonable title aspirations than the fading Koscheck.
Chance of capturing UFC welterweight title: 3 percent
9. Robbie Lawler
Lawler's triumphant return to the UFC Octagon was heartwarming, but it seems to have propagated the perception that he is a real title threat, a notion that is false.
Yes, the change in promotion coincides with a drop in weight, but neither career move will be enough to vault Lawler over fighters of Georges St-Pierre's stature.
Look at Lawler's recent history. He is 4-5 over his last nine fights, and has been stopped twice during that time. It's true that the majority of those matches came at middleweight, and that they came against some of the best opponents the Strikeforce promotion had to offer, but how often does a veteran change classes and legitimately resurrect his career?
Besides, the pinnacle of UFC welterweight competition is about as fierce as it gets. Moving there from any other division in any other promotion is hardly a case of finding easier prey.
All in all, I see Lawler as a solid fighter, one who will bolster the 170-pound division by putting on several entertaining fights. But a championship is just not something that I see in the cards for "Ruthless."
Chance of capturing the UFC welterweight title: 5 percent
8. Tarec Saffiedine
How highly you rank Saffiedine in the welterweight division really comes down to how much you believe a win over Nate Marquardt is worth, because the Belgian has little beyond that to mark him as a top contender.
Projecting Saffiedine's future will become easier when we see a little bit more from him, especially against UFC-caliber fighters. As it stands right now there is a lot of guesswork, but in fairness, there is as much reason to be optimistic as there is to shut him down.
Perhaps a win over Marquardt isn't career-defining, but it is a nice start. And Saffiedine is just 26, so he has plenty of time to bag bigger game.
For now, I'll tag him with a reasonable, but conservative percentage, mainly because I'm not positive how he will handle the UFC's best wrestlers at 170.
Chance of capturing UFC welterweight title: 8 percent
7. Martin Kampmann
Kampmann has been a good fighter for a long time, but he has just never been able to land that elusive title shot. He's been close several times, but it always seems to sneak away alongside an inopportune defeat.
With technically sound standup, terrific takedown defense and a legitimately dangerous submission game, Kampmann is no pushover for anyone. The problem is, making other contenders sweat en route to their title shots is a pretty undesirable consolation prize.
Can Kampmann ever get over the hump and land a title shot? If he does, can he make good on the chance?
He's a very good competitor, one well deserving of his top 10 rank, but his chances of ever adorning UFC gold at 170 aren't particularly high.
Chance of capturing UFC welterweight title: 10 percent
6. Nick Diaz
Diaz was just gift-wrapped a title shot and failed to make good on it. How much reason is there to believe he'll actually win the belt after having to earn his way back to it for another go around?
Is there even reason to believe he'll make the attempt? And if he does make the attempt, could he even get to the title fight, or would he falter on his way there?
If he does try, will he make a title run at welterweight, or would he try at middleweight? Or lightweight?
Will he be around long enough to even take another swing, or will his pals at the IRS call him in for a visit sometime before that?
All I know is that with so many questions, Diaz's title aspirations at 170 pounds can't be said to be that great.
Chance of capturing UFC welterweight title: 5 percent
5. Demian Maia
Since dropping from middleweight to welterweight in 2012, Maia has looked like an absolute horror. He's racked up three wins in ultra-convincing fashion, and has quietly placed himself in the thick of the division's title picture.
At 35, the jiu-jitsu wizard seems to have recommitted to taking his opponents to the mat, a move as much responsible for his renewed success as his change in weight. That he was able to so easily drag down a tough wrestler like Jon Fitch so many times gives hope that he may actually be able to threaten the division's top fighters.
Maia is not exactly young, so he cannot afford too many losses if he wants the strap. He needs to earn a title shot soon, and to make good on it. If he can't, he'll find his window is closing just as he hits his stride in MMA.
Chance of capturing UFC welterweight title: 18 percent
4. Jake Ellenberger
Ellenberger may have already had his crack at the title if he would have beaten Martin Kampmann in June, 2012, but a loss in that match sent him back down the ladder. He's recovered nicely, however, with back-to-back wins, but he remains on the fringe of contention.
He'll have the opportunity to take center stage this summer if he can defeat Rory MacDonald at UFC on Fox 8, maybe earning a title shot outright. Another defeat would be bad, though. Real bad.
Ellenberger has proven himself to be near the top of the 170-pound weight class, but none of his eight UFC wins have come over an opponent currently ranked in the division's top 10. Each time he's been given an opponent currently ranked, he has suffered defeat.
That isn't to say he's a gate-keeper, just that he has a lot to prove before he becomes a legitimate title threat to a champion of Georges St-Pierre's caliber.
Chances of capturing UFC welterweight title: 15 percent
3. Rory MacDonald
No top 10 welterweight has more time to win the division's title than MacDonald, and few possess nearly as much talent.
At just 23, MacDonald has already established himself as one of the most dangerous fighters at 170 pounds. His hit-list is wanting for big names as of now, but his performances give every indication that it is just a matter of time before they begin showing up.
MacDonald could officially join the elite group of welterweights if he defeats Jake Ellenberger at UFC on Fox 8 this summer, a result that would position him close to a title shot. Whether he would cash in on the opportunity or take a rain-check probably depends on who holds the belt when his name is called, as MacDonald has indicated he would not fight his pal GSP, the current titleholder.
MacDonald definitely has the potential to wear UFC gold, and his youth somewhat mitigates the harm done by his relationship with the current champion.
Chance of capturing UFC welterweight title: 70 percent
2. Carlos Condit
He's had the interim title, but the real thing would be a much nicer accolade for Condit. He's been close to acquiring it already, nearly knocking Georges St-Pierre out during their 2012 match. On the whole, however, St-Pierre proved to be on another level, dominating the majority of the action and earning a clear-cut decision win.
Condit's rebound attempt was stifled by Johny Hendricks, which puts him at 0-2 over his past two outings. Still, Condit is one of the most dangerous fighters at 170, and if anyone can quickly recover from a brief losing streak, it's him.
Whether he can parlay that recovery into a title shot and that title shot into a championship is the real question. He's only 28, so time isn't a pressing issue just yet.
Chances of capturing UFC welterweight title: 25 percent
1. Johny Hendricks
On the strength of a blistering left hand and powerful wrestling, Hendricks has emerged as the UFC's No. 1 welterweight contender.
Having laid waste to the pack, the 29-year-old will enter his fight with champion Georges St-Pierre as a live underdog who most seem to be giving a legitimate chance. A puncher's chance at least.
His wrestling background and knockout power make him a suitable candidate to dethrone the champion on paper, but less so in reality. While he's tough in all the areas he's advertised as being tough in, Hendricks has struggled with strong wrestlers in the past.
Sure, he's beaten several tough wrestlers, but both Mike Pierce and Josh Koscheck took him to a split-decision, and Rick Story actually outpointed him. What will happen when he gets in the cage with St-Pierre?
Anything can happen, and counting out Hendricks is plain silly, but I give him little better than a one-in-four chance against GSP. Allowing for subsequent title runs in the event of a loss adds about 10 percent to his overall odds.
Chance of capturing the UFC welterweight title: 35 percent