These rankings are based on the fallout from UFC 99. Records indicate UFC records, not full MMA records.
1. George St. Pierre, 12-2
Given that St. Pierre is the champion, the number one spot is a given. But there is more to St. Pierre then just being the champion. He has gone 5-0 since being on the losing end of one of the biggest upsets in UFC history, courtesy of Matt Serra.
Since that fight St. Pierre has dominated Josh Koscheck, Matt Hughes, Matt Serra, Jon Fitch and B.J. Penn. None of those wins matter now though as St. Pierre is set to face his toughest test to date in a very dangerous Thiago Alves at UFC 100.
If St. Pierre defeats Avles, he has cleared out most of the competition at 170 pounds with Mike Swick and Martin Kampmann taking exception. While those fights would be fun, the UFC may advance St. Pierre into a super fight with current middleweight champion Anderson Silva. The fight would be a perfect addition to The Ultimate 2009 fight card.
2. Thiago Alves, 9-2
Alves established himself as one of the more legitimate number one contenders on UFC record by knocking out Karo Parisyan and Matt Hughes before going on to outwork Josh Koscheck for a decision win. Alves was the first fighter to knock Parisyan out in a fight.
Many people believe that Alves has the size and stand up game to take the belt away from St. Pierre at UFC 100. If he is able to do so, Mike Swick and Jon Fitch would be waiting in the wings. Fitch actually holds a win over Alves (three years ago) so a rematch would definitely be in order.
3. Jon Fitch, 9-1
The only blemish on the UFC record of Jon Fitch is to current champion George St. Pierre. Fitch has wins over Thiago Alves, Diego Sanchez and, most recently, Akihiro Gono.
Fitch will need to avoid a letdown against young gun Paulo Thiago at UFC 100. Thiago bring just one octagon win into their fight, but it came against Fitch’s teammate, Josh Koscheck. While Fitch will remain focused, a little bit of revenge has to be on his mind.
If Fitch wins, it will come down to the UFC choosing between him and Mike Swick to fight the St. Pierre-Alves winner. Fitch already got his crack at St. Pierre and lost, so it seems like the UFC would give the 9-1 Mike Swick his opportunity.
4. Mike Swick, 9-1
Swick is coming off an impressive win at UFC 99 against Ben Saunders. His UFC record is quite impressive, especially given the fact that he started his UFC career going 5-1 in the middleweight division.
The only thing people may question with Swick is his level of welterweight competition he has faced so far.
While his T(KO) wins over Saunders and Goulet were enjoyable, neither of those foes are anywhere near top 10 of the division. Swick’s best resume win was a decision victory over Marcus Davis, but Davis wasn’t 100 percent in that fight. Also, Davis losing to Dan Hardy at UFC 99 doesn’t help Swick’s strength of schedule.
Despite that, Swick should have the momentum leading up to the St. Pierre-Alves. Some of his fate may rest on how impressive Fitch is in his fight with Paulo Thiago, but even if Fitch manages to T(KO) his opponent, is that enough for him to justify a second title shot within a year period?
5. Matt Hughes, 16-5
Finding the perfect spot for Hughes is a bit precarious. If Josh Koscheck had not lost his last fight he would hold the five spot.
Hughes stopped his recent slide by eking out a win over Matt Serra at UFC 98. Before that, Hughes had lost three of four fights. Granted, two of those losses were to St. Pierre and the other against Alves.
Despite his recent struggles, Hughes is a future Hall of Famer and his record is imposing. It’s now decision time. Does he ride off into the sunset with a win against his biggest grudge or does he make one last run at the title and see what he has left in the gas tank?
While many fans may want him to see what’s behind door number one, Hughes has that maverick streak in him and curiosity will either kill the cat or he may in fact rack up another win or two before closing the books on his storied career.
6. Martin Kampmann, 6-1
Martin Kampmann could be the future of the welterweight division. He looked quite impressive at middleweight until running into a much more physically imposing Nate Marquardt.
Kampmann made the smart move to drop down to 170 where he is more much physically imposing himself.
A razor thin yet impressive win over Carlos Condit publicized his place in the division. How good you think Condit is determines how notable you think the win is. Kampmann recently turned down a fight against T.J. Grant because he only wants to fight the best in the division.
His next fight could come against Swick, Fitch, or the St. Pierre-Alves winner depending on how everything shakes out.
Is Kampmann ready for the welterweight primetime?
7. Josh Koscheck, 10-4
It’s hard to believe Koscheck has fought fourteen fights in the octagon. Koschek’s career peaked after beating Diego Sanchez, which earned him a fight with George St. Pierre (not a title fight). He fought valiantly only to come away with a decision loss.
Koscheck went on to beat Dustin Hazelett and Chris Lytle before running into Thiago Alves at UFC 90. After that loss, Koscheck got back on track by rocking Yoshiyuki Yoshida only to get rocked himself by Paulo Thiago in his most recent fight.
Now Koscheck looks set to welcome Frank Trigg back to the octagon at UFC 103. It seems a bit hard to figure out where Koscheck’s career is headed. He’s expressed his desire to fight anyone at any time, and while that has earned brownie points with Dana White, the resulting impression is that winning a title is secondary for Koscheck.
Koscheck is a small welterweight compared to guys like St. Pierre, Alves and Fitch. If Koscheck continues to vacillate between winning and losing he may want to follow Diego Sanchez down to the lightweight division and make a title run there.
8. Karo Parisyan, 8-3
Like Matt Hughes, Karo Parisyan gets a higher ranking then he may deserve based on past accomplishments. Past this point in the rankings, the division is teeming with young talent who would be more then willing to take this spot.
Parisyan has beat guys like Matt Serra, Chris Lytle and Ryo Chonan, but lost to guys like George St. Pierre, Diego Sanchez and Thiago Alves, making him the proverbial gatekeeper in the welterweight division.
In Karo’s last fight, he took a split decision over Dong Hyun Kim—although many people felt Kim won the split decision. His next fight, coming back from a steroid suspension, will be the most critical of his career and set the tone for his future in the UFC.
9. Carlos Condit, 0-1
Ranking Condit in the top 10 may seem off to some when you have guys like Dustin Hazelett and Anthony Johnson holding more impressive UFC records. But you have to give Condit credit for both his dominance in the WEC and also his gritty performance against Martin Kampmann in his first UFC bout. Some felt Condit actually one that fight.
Condit’s next fight will help determine exactly where he fits into this division. Being that there are a lot of moving parts in the welterweight division, there are lots of options.
10. Dustin Hazelett/Anthony Johnson, 5-2/4-2
What is more impressive: Johnson’s two T(KO) wins over Luigi Fioravanti and Ken Burns coupled with a loss to Rich Clementi or Hazelett’s two submission wins over Tamdan McCrory and Josh Burkman coupled with a loss to Josh Koscheck?
Both fighters have a lot of potential moving forward and unfortunately are sitting on the sidelines with injuries. Look for both to rebound and continue to work their way up the ladder of the welterweight division.
Tier two fighters
Dan Hardy (3-0)
Marcus Davis (8-3)
Matt Serra (6-6)
Brock Larson (2-1)
Matt Brown (3-1)
Paulo Thiago (1-0)
Dong Hyum Kim (2-0)
Ben Saunders (3-1)
Frank Trigg (2-3)
Chris Lytle (5-9)