This is part two of my five part series. This time, as explained in the title, I will be analyzing the welterweights. The UFC welterweight division is arguably the most stacked division. It features stars such as Thiago Alves and Jon Fitch, and young up-and-comers like Paulo Thiago and Paul Daley.
This list will be the hardest to write simply because of all the talent I have to go over. But first, let me get this out of the way. Georges St. Pierre is No. 1. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched the UFC in the last four years. The top five is harder to place, and to find out, you should read this list.
Call him overrated. Call him raw. Whatever you call him, he is still good. His immense size dwarfs almost everyone in the division. His striking is good, and at this point in his career he will only get better.
He comes across as a perfectionist. Against a dominant wrestler in Josh Koscheck, Johnson was choked out, which may be a sign that he needs to improve his wrestling. His priority should just be to keep the fight standing and utilize his reach advantage. Six of his eight career wins are by KO, with only two of his fights going the distance. At only 25-years-old, Johnson has a very bright future ahead of him.
Sanchez's foray into the lightweight division went well at first, until it was all ended by one brutal headkick (and apparently BJ Penn's first ever) last December. Now, he will be coming back to welterweight for a shot at the belt.
The only reason for him being so low is because of his brief venture to the lightweight division. His wrestling is good, and his jiu-jitsu is underrated. His furious striking is what sets him apart, however. His boxing is crisp and fast, and the occasional headkick make his striking a nightmare (pun intended) to game plan for. After some initial sluggishness, look for him to continue his winning ways.
Whats with British fighters only making their marks as welterweight fighters (save for Michael Bisping)? I can't answer that question. But I can answer your question on why Semtex is so low (or high, based on your opinion). Paul Daley burst onto the scene at UFC 103, TKOing top contender Martin Kampmann in the first round.
He is one of the best technical strikers in the sport today. One source of mine even said he was second only to the great Anderson Silva. Daley will find out if he even has a chance against GSP when he fights Josh Koscheck, who will test him both striking and grappling. If Paul Daley can block takedowns as well as he can knock people out, he may be the first person to really challenge GSP in awhile. He will be fighting Koscheck at UFC 113.
Wow, how the tables have turned for Mike Swick. In November, he was sitting pretty at the top of the welterweight division. Now, after two straight losses, he should be fighting for his life. He will likely make a comeback, eventually sitting atop the ladder again.
Swick is a very good striker. Let's get that out of the way right now. He showed how fast his hands were at TUF 1 Finale, knocking out Alex Schonauer in just 20 seconds. He is no slouch on the ground either. However, standing up may be his biggest weakness, and if you watched his last two fights, against Dan Hardy and Paulo Thiago, you will know why.
In the Hardy fight, he took a big shot early on and seemed timid throughout the rest of the fight, eventually losing a unanimous decision. In the Thiago fight, he actually caught Paulo with a good shot, but while stepping up to finish, Thiago caught him with a left hook that left him sprawled on the mat. One D'Arce Choke later, Swick had lost two straight for the first time in his career.
I'm no expert analyst, so I don't know how he can fix his game plan. But if he wants to work his way back up, he better be back at the gym soon figuring it out.
Josh Koscheck is known for his wrestling inside of the octagon, and his brash and sometimes stupid statements outside of the octagon. His Division 1 Wrestling experience is a big part of his success inside of the UFC, often helping him on his way to decision victories, which are the ultimate result of ground-and-pound/lay n' pray.
He has shown heavy hands before, KOing Frank Trigg, Yoshiyuki Yoshida, Dustin Hazelett, and Chris Sanford. His upcoming fight with Paul Daley should determine who faces the winner of GSP vs. Dan Hardy.
Who would've known one year ago that Paulo Thiago would be a very good welterweight contender? Josh Koscheck didn't. Thiago beat him at 3:29 of the first round with a brutal right-left combination. He next fought Jon Fitch at UFC 100, where Jon Fitch did what Jon Fitch does for three rounds, eventually resulting in a unanimous decision loss for Paulo Thiago.
Then, he squared off against Jacob Volkmann, winning a unanimous decision. After originally preparing to fight a rematch against Koscheck, Koscheck was injured and Thiago instead fought against Koscheck's friend and teammate, Mike Swick. Swick was dropped with a left hook early in the second, and then choked out moments later.
Paulo Thiago is a rising star with very few weaknesses. Out of all his strengths, however, his composure is what sets him apart. His composure can largely be attributed to him being a member of the Brazilian Special Forces and having to deal with drug busts and hostage situations. His next fight should be against either Thiago Alves, or a veteran like Martin Kampmann.
This is another welterweight with a bright future ahead of him. Thiago Alves is a dominant striker, winning by KO 10 times out of 16 wins. Apart from Jon Fitch, Spencer Fisher and GSP, Alves has never lost in the UFC, defeating all of his opponents, and that includes names such as Chris Lytle, Josh Koscheck and the great Matt Hughes.
After he was brutalized by GSP in his title shot last July, Alves is scheduled for a rematch against Jon Fitch. After that fight, his future is uncertain, although in my opinion a fight between him and Paulo Thiago would be cool. Alves is only 26-years-old, and barring a massive choke on his part, should be a contender in this division for years to come.
The next contender for GSP's belt. In all honesty, the only way he can win is if GSP gets caught with a bomb, but he has defeated other top competition, so that garners him a spot on this list.
Dan Hardy is a good striker, and a good grappler. He is well balanced, with experience in Tae Kwon-Do, Muay-Thai, and boxing. His UFC debut was a split decision win against Akihiro Gono. Hardy showed his boxing prowess, using his now-famous left hook multiple times, eventually causing Gono's eye to swell up and ooze blood. Hardy also showed his toughness, getting rocked by Gono on multiple occasions, but persevering and eventually securing the win.
Fast forward a year and a half, and Hardy is now competing for the title. Him winning the title is absurd, so we'll assume he doesn't. After the loss, a matchup I would like to see is between him and Josh Koscheck.
Jon Fitch is an excellent fighter. He truly is. His record (21-3) proves that. I think he gets overlooked by people just because his fights are never that great to watch. Jon Fitch finishing an opponent is like the Detroit Lions winning a football game. It doesn't happen that often.
But like I said, that is no reason to keep him from his rightful spot. Fitch uses a combination of great wrestling, good cardio, and ground-and-pound to win fights. When he is on, he is dangerous for anyone to face, excluding GSP. The ability to dictate where a fight takes place shouldn't be unappreciated. I believe if he were a more dangerous striker, he would be a serious threat to GSP's title. After his rematch with Thiago Alves, a fight against Paul Daley or Dan Hardy should be in his future.
As was said, St. Pierre is No. 1. After dismantling pretty much all of his opponents at some point or another, there are maybe two more title fights until he should move up to middleweight. The first should be against Paul Daley, and that's only if he makes it past Josh Koscheck. The next should be against Paulo Thiago when he wins his next fight. Those are the only really interesting fights left at welterweight, save for a Diego Sanchez fight.
GSP's wrestling is the best in the sport, as I went over in my Top 10 Wrestlers list. He times his takedowns perfectly, which often results in success. Critics have started to say GSP is a big abuser of lay 'n pray, but anyone who saw Thiago Alves' face after his GSP fight last July should be able to say differently.
Like I said, welterweights was easily the hardest article for me yet. I hope I've done a good job. If I haven't, and you care to tell me so, comment down below. My middleweights article should be out in about a week.