September 5, 2009
As you may or may not know by now, Mike Swick has been forced to pull out of his UFC 103 title eliminator bout with Martin Kampmann, replaced by recent UFC addition Paul "Semtex" Daley.
Many were already looking past the Swick - Kampmann bout and the winner's eventual attempt to dethrone Georges St-Pierre atop the welterweight division, despite the French-Canadian's injury concerns.
Now, an abundance of answers are needed to sort out what happens next for the welterweight division.
First off, where does Swick go from here?
Reports indicate that his injury will not keep him on the sidelines for too long, but has his window of opportunity already closed?
Few believe that Swick is the top contender in the division; this opportunity was as much about the dominance St-Pierre has displayed in disposing of both Jon Fitch and Thiago Alves as it was about the performances of Swick and Kampmann.
Now that he's out of the eliminator, will the former cast member of The Ultimate Fighter come back and still be on the short list for a shot at the title?
What happens between Kampmann and Swick's replacement Paul Daley will go a long way in helping answer that question.
An upset for Daley throws things into complete disarray; despite a solid track record including a title tilt on CBS for Jake Shields' EliteXC welterweight belt, the British fighter is an unknown quantity to fans of the UFC and wouldn't make for a highly-marketable matchup.
Should Kampmann emerge victorious, he should remain next in line and give Swick a reasonable argument for staying on the short list of title contenders.
While some might not be familiar with the Danish fighter now based at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, Kampmann is no slouch. Had it not been for a major knee injury that resulted in surgery and a long layoff, it would have been Kampmann competing for Rich Franklin's Middleweight title at UFC 72.
Instead, Anderson Silva stepped in and the rest is history in the making.
However, Swick and Kampmann, and to a lesser extent Daley, aren't the only welterweights who will help shape the division heading into 2010.
Former title hopeful Josh Koscheck looks to rebound from his upset loss at the hands of Paulo Thiago and re-establish himself as a title contender.
The man standing across the cage from him in Dallas, Frank Trigg, makes his return to the UFC and certainly won't be interested in mid-card status for the duration of his contract.
Twice disposed of in title fights by Matt Hughes, Trigg is magic on the mic and a highly marketable fighter with enough name recognition to sell a fight.
A win over Koscheck, a consensus Top 10 welterweight, should leave "Twinkletoes" one more win away from a rematch against St-Pierre, another interesting angle that could certainly be played up in the promotion of such a fight.
Incredibly enough, that isn't the end of the list of welterweights wondering where they stand.
Former WEC welterweight champion Carlos Condit fell in a close decision to Kampmann in his UFC debut. While the Dane has used that win as a springboard to a potential title shot, what becomes of Condit?
He steps in to the cage at Fight Night 19 against UFC newcomer Jake Ellenberger and a win there should warrant a jump up in competition and leave "The Natural Born Killer" into the Top 10, if he isn't there already.
And what about Brock Larson?
Very seldom do you have a fighter with as impressive a record as Larson (26-2) riding a five-fight win streak competing on the preliminary portion of a card and fighting guys many fight fans have don't know.
But such is life for Larson right now, despite only two defeats and two consecutive wins since returning to the UFC. The Minnesota native is the often overlooked man in the welterweight division, but a third straight win over Mike Pierce at Fight Night 19 would certainly bring him some more attention.
That makes seven men fighting in September with standing in the welterweight division at stake.
Mix in Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves and Paulo Thiago and you've got 10 men with one singular goal: making their way to the top of the mountain for a chance to dethrone King Georges.
While we currently don't know who will be the next to stand opposite the reigning ruler, the cadre of questions currently surrounding the division will turn to answers by the time September turns to October.
For now, all we can do is wonder what's next for the UFC welterweight division.
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