UFC: Top 10 Welterweights Fighting in the Octagon

Tim GrovesCorrespondent IMarch 3, 2011

UFC: Top 10 Welterweights Fighting in the Octagon

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    UFC 127 featured welterweight contenders Jon Fitch and B.J. Penn going up against each other.

    Martin Kampmann and Diego Sanchez are about to tango at UFC on Versus 3. 

    Four of the top 10 welterweights fighting in the span of a week? I think that calls for a countdown.

    Ten spots. Ten UFC welterweights. See where everyone stands inside.

10. Diego Sanchez

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    Sanchez has recently admitted that he let his personal demons run rampant after his loss to B.J. Penn during their fight for the lightweight belt. Those demons showed in a lackluster performance against John Hathaway at UFC 114.

    He rebounded against Paulo Thiago at UFC 121 in a victory that saw the old Diego return to the Octagon. He displayed his wrestling, cardio and heart throughout the bout.

    Since then, Sanchez has been beefing up, to ensure that he can never return to 155 again. Will the bigger, stronger Sanchez make strides in the 170-pound division? We will find out when he takes on Martin Kampmann.

9. Carlos Condit

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    Carlos Condit comes to fight. He doesn't look for decisions. He doesn't look to coast. He comes to finish his opponent at all costs.

    A notoriously slow starter, Condit came out firing against Dan Hardy at UFC 120. The normally heavy-handed Brit was dealt his first knockout loss to Condit in that event. Condit's stock skyrocketed.

    Condit has tremendous striking and jiu-jitsu. His striking is fluid and varied, as he throws all sorts of crazy kicks and punches at his opponents. His one weakness is his wrestling.

    Condit was scheduled to fight Chris Lytle at UFC 127, in what would have been the fight of the year, but was forced to withdraw with a knee injury.

8. Dong Hyun Kim

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    Dong Hyun Kim is basically Yushin Okami-lite. 

    The Korean-based fighter uses his size and wrestling to grind on his opponents. He wears them down and tires them out over the course of their three-round affair.

    In his most recent Octagon appearance, Stun Gun put the kibosh on a potential title run by Nate Diaz by stifling the Cesar Gracie product with his wrestling and top control. Outside of some late submissions and strikes, Diaz failed to muster any offense.

    Kim is unbeaten in his MMA career, and with another win or two, is poised for a title shot.

7. Josh Koscheck

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    Josh Koscheck is a hard-nosed fighter who can take a serious beating—just ask Georges St. Pierre.

    In that same fight, Koscheck also showed that he may just have the best wrestling in the division, when St. Pierre was unable to take the former Ultimate Fighter competitor down during their five-round affair.

    Not only does he have exceptional wrestling skills, Kos also has shown serious power in his hands. His striking isn't technically sound, but he does hit really, really hard.

6. Martin Kampmann

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    The Danish kickboxer has flown under the radar for the majority of his mixed martial arts career. Kampmann has put together an 8-3 record inside the Octagon, while he has only lost to contenders Nate Marquardt, Paul Daley and Jake Shields.

    Kampmann is a former Danish kickboxing champion, making his striking very dangerous. His long limbs have allowed him to dictate the range for many of his fights, where he has battered opponents trying to get inside of him.

    When you hear kickboxer, you normally associate that with a pretty bad ground game—don't tell Kampmann that though. Kampmann may just have the most underrated grappling in all of mixed martial arts. He grappled with Jake Shields for the majority of their 15-minute bout and was never in any real danger.

5. Jake Shields

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    For all the things Jake Shields is exceptional at, he just can't seem to shake the fact that his striking is downright horrendous.

    Shields is one of the best jiu-jitsu practitioners in all of mixed martial arts, a legitimate black belt under Cesar Gracie. He has stifled the likes of Dan Henderson, Jason Miller and Carlos Condit throughout the course of his career.

    His takedowns aren't exactly Georges St. Pierre takedowns, but at the same time no one has been able to stay upright against Shields.

    While his jiu-jitsu and takedowns are really damn good, his striking and cardio have seemed really damn bad. We can chalk up his horrible cardio against Martin Kampmann for a bad weight cut to 170, but his striking has to improve if he wants to have any shot against GSP on April 30th.

4. Thiago Alves

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    The American Top Team product has quite possibly the best striking in the welterweight division in mixed martial arts. 

    His leg kicks are brutal and crippling. His punches are crisp and varied. He throws leg kicks, head kicks, flying knees, power punches, jabs and anything else that could possibly wobble his opponents.

    He was outwrestled by Georges St. Pierre, but who hasn't been? Alves was still able to stand up once he was taken down by the French-Canadian, something that can't be said for most of his past opponents.

    In the second Jon Fitch fight, Alves looked downright horrible. He looked flat and uninterested. A horrible weight-cut and a year-plus layoff is probably to blame.

3. B.J. Penn

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    B.J. Penn has every skill to be a champion—except for heart. And that's a travesty. 

    The Hawaiian has some of the best boxing in all of mixed martial arts. He throws with accuracy and power and has wobbled most of the opponents he has faced.

    His takedown defense and balance are some of the best ever. Georges St. Pierre, Jon Fitch, Matt Hughes and Frankie Edgar have been the only fighters who were able to take down Penn. That's a scary list of wrestlers. 

    Even if they got the fight to the ground, Penn is a world champion BJJ fighter. He has an incredible top game and submission skills. He has insane flexibility, which has constantly helped him scramble back to his feet throughout his career.

    But Penn has shown that he lacks motivation. He has been known to hate training. He refuses to change game plans in the middle of fights. His cardio hasn't always been where it should have been.

    And that just won't cut it against the top two guys.

2. Jon Fitch

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    At 13-1-1 in his UFC career, his only loss came to the No. 1 fighter in the world in his only title shot to date. Jon Fitch has a serious claim to the title: "Best to never hold a belt."

    Fitch is a worker. His cardio is outstanding. His understanding of the game is impeccable. He is insanely durable. He keeps coming forward regardless of what happens. Take a look at pictures of him after his fight with GSP and ask yourself how many people would have kept coming forward in that fight.

    Fitch has incredible top control and submission defense. He doesn't put himself in bad positions and he knows how to get out of them if an opponent does get him into one. His striking is always improving and he keeps getting better and better.

    He may be boring, but Jon Fitch wins fights.

1. Georges St. Pierre

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    Is there really any doubt that GSP is the No. 1 welterweight?