The reigning UFC welterweight champion, Georges St-Pierre, has served as the division’s most dominant fighter for almost six years. During that time, he has remained undefeated and has beaten the likes of other former world champions and MMA veterans, such as Matt Hughes, Matt Serra, Jon Fitch, B.J. Penn, Jake Shields, Carlos Condit and Nate Diaz.
However, the talent within the welterweight division is profound. Three fighters, in particular, through their power, methodical fighting style and combatant warrior spirit, pose the greatest threat to the champion’s world title.
On November 16, 2013, at UFC 167, St-Pierre will face the powerhouse that is Johny Hendricks. The Canadian champion has made a career out of effectively utilizing his high-level wrestling talents to neutralize his opponents in the Octagon. St-Pierre has mastered the art of smothering his opponents, preventing any type of major offensive display on their part. The Canadian’s fighting style has stifled his foes time and time again, leading to his astounding 24-2 record.
“Bigg Rigg,” on the other hand, has a tremendous wrestling base. He is a four-time Division I All-American wrestler. Like St-Pierre, Hendricks has the ability to control and nullify his opponents with his grappling as well. However, the Oklahoma native’s power is what sets him apart from most other welterweights, including St-Pierre.
In a combined 58 seconds, Hendricks devastatingly knocked out game contenders in Martin Kampmann and Fitch at UFC 154 and at UFC 141, respectively. These bouts illustrated Bigg Rigg’s power and ability to quickly dispose of top-notch talent within the welterweight division.
Hendricks is one of the most dangerously well-rounded fighters on the UFC roster. At UFC 167, he will attempt to wrest away the championship title from St-Pierre, snap his 11-fight win streak and defeat the greatest welterweight champion in UFC history.
Sooner or later, one of the most logical matchups will include St-Pierre and his teammate, Rory MacDonald. Although both of these fighters have denied the possibility of facing each other, UFC president Dana White disagrees. Recently, he stated:
Those two will fight. I think these guys are handling it like professionals, doing their thing, and when the day comes when they’re there, I guarantee you they’ll fight.
Given their similarly technical fighting styles and success in the Octagon, irrespective of their teammate status, a bout between St-Pierre and MacDonald is logically sound. Both are methodical in their approach to mixed martial arts. At the same time, MacDonald is currently ranked No. 3 in the welterweight division and sports a highly respectable 15-1 MMA record.
Ultimately, an in-Octagon meeting of the two high-profile teammates is inevitable. The fact that these two athletes are friends only heightens the general public’s curiosity and strengthens their desire to witness the fruition of this teammate versus teammate matchup.
The Dark Horse: Matt Brown
Not long ago, Matt Brown rounded out the lower tier of the UFC welterweight roster. More often than not, he fought no-name fighters—many to whom he lost. He sports a lackluster 18-11 record and was rumored to have been fired from the UFC in 2010, as a result of having lost three consecutive fights. However, what Brown lacks in skill and technique, he makes up with pure heart, grit and perseverance.
For the first time in the Ohio native’s career, he has put together a six-fight win streak. His most notable wins have come over MMA veterans Mike Pyle and Mike Swick. Both victories came in the form of knockouts. Suddenly, with Brown’s current win streak and recent highlight-reel finishes, the UFC has taken notice. However, in a recent statement, Brown addressed those who did not believe him to be championship material. He exclaimed:
Just because a bunch of media people don't believe I'm not good enough for a title shot doesn't mean that it's true. I train very hard every day, and I train with some of the best people in the world in all the different martial arts, and I believe that my time is coming. I believe things are coming my way more and more now, and I'm going to be ready for a title shot in the future.
On December 14, 2013, Brown will be faced with the opportunity to illustrate that he is equipped to handle the pressure on a championship-type level. At UFC on Fox 9, Brown meets his most accomplished challenger to date—former two-time world champion Carlos Condit.
Gaining a victory over Condit in any fashion would most likely earn the Ohio native his first shot at a world title and leave him truly “Immortal” in the eyes of many.