UFC 130 may not have been the greatest card of all time, but a few fights helped to establish the contenders from the pretenders in their respective divisions.
One example of this is Rick Story, a fighter who was not ranked in most folks top 20 welterweights coming in, pulling off a huge upset over Thiago Alves.
Alves fought for the UFC welterweight belt back in July of 2009, and despite only being 1-2 since then, he was still generally considered a top three welterweight fighter coming into the match up with “The Horror” Story.
This is a major shake up for the UFC’s welterweight division, so an updated power ranking for the top 10 most credentialed fighters in the division seems in order.
The English power puncher remains a factor in the 170 pound division, despite coming up short in his recent Strikeforce title fight against Nick Diaz.
Unfortunately for "Semtex", he is probably best known for his cheap shot on Josh Koscheck after losing a unanimous decision to Kos in May of 2010.
Given the fact that Daley has not beaten a top 10 opponent outside of Martin Kampmann in the past couple years, he will likely need to pull off a couple upsets in order to get another shot at Diaz's belt.
Not to discredit Daley's ability, the Muay Thai and boxing specialist hits incredibly hard for a welterweight, capable of knocking out just about anyone at 170 pounds.
Daley needs to improve his grappling game though if he wants to hang with the elite fighters of the division.
“Stun Gun” went under the radar of fans and analysts alike for the most part until he dialed in a dominant performance against Nate Diaz at UFC 125.
Kim is undefeated with a record of 14-0-1(1), largely due to an exceptional Judo and wrestling game.
The Korean fighter’s takedowns and top control are very difficult to overcome, so it will be interesting to see if that will be enough for him to overcome a very tough striker in Carlos Condit at UFC 132.
This bout could be an unofficial number one contender fight, giving the winner a shot against Georges St-Pierre either late this year or early 2012.
Worst case scenario, a win here would solidify either Kim or Condit as a top five welterweight.
“The Hitman” would probably be a top five welterweight at this point in his career if he had a little better luck with the judge’s scorecards in his past two outings.
Kampmann’s split decision loss to Jake Shields in October of 2010 was widely viewed by fans as a draw, while Kampmann’s unanimous decision loss to Diego Sanchez back in March was viewed by many as a complete travesty.
Nevertheless, Kampmann is a dangerous opponent to encounter with his precise kickboxing and a sound submission game.
Wins over contenders like Carlos Condit and Paulo Thiago in recent memory show that Kampmann can hang with top notch competition.
Kampmann looks to get back on track in his second consecutive UFC Live appearance when he takes on John “Doomsday” Howard on June 26.
The 21-year-old Canadian prospect has been impressive since joining the UFC, flat out embarrassing Nate Diaz in his most recent victory at UFC 129.
MacDonald’s sole professional loss came at the heavy hands of Carlos Condit, a fight MacDonald was hands down winning before getting knocked out in the third round.
With a win over veteran Mike Pyle at UFC 133, McDonald is probably just a couple victories away from a title shot.
"The Juggernaut" is another high level wrestler making an impact at 170 pounds.
Although Ellenberger possesses great takedowns and uses great top pressure, it would be a mistake for opponents to overlook his excellent boxing skills.
16 of Ellenberger's 25 wins has come by way of knockout, while only four victories have went to the judges scorecards.
Ellenberger has won four in a row since losing a razor close split decision to fellow contender Carlos Condit back in September of 2009.
The Juggernaut is so confident in his wrestling ability, which is not surprising being he is an assistant wrestling coach at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Ellenberger has went on record saying he would like to fight either Jon Fitch or Josh Koscheck next.
A win against either opponent would likely turn Ellenberger into a top five contender at welterweight.
The current Strikeforce welterweight champion is currently on a 10 fight winning streak, and has publicly stated that he would like to avenge Gracie Jiu Jitsu teammate Jake Shields loss to Georges St-Pierre.
While the hopes of seeing that dream fight this year have completely diminished, Diaz does pose a unique threat to just about anyone in the division.
His boxing skills, by MMA standards, are fantastic, and Diaz’s jiu jitsu game has led to some interesting finishes.
The long story short is that Diaz rarely has a boring fight due to his ultra aggressive style, which is why a lot of fans would love to see him push the pace against the super conservative St-Pierre.
Sanchez is one of the best welterweight grapplers in the game, but his lack of efficient striking has prevented him from entering elite territory.
Nevertheless, quality wins over the likes of Nick Diaz, Paulo Thiago, and Martin Kampmann should not be ignored.
Even when he looks completely outmatched, Sanchez always shows tremendous heart, fighting with extreme intensity until the final second ticks off the clock.
Sanchez has a chance to pad his resume when he takes on another very solid grappler in UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes at UFC 134 this September.
From October of 2006 until October of 2008, Alves won seven fights in the row and earned a title fight with Georges St-Pierre.
Since then, “The Pitbull” has fallen on some hard times, dropping three of his past four bouts.
While there is no shame in losing to Jon Fitch or Georges St-Pierre, getting upset by Rick Story has to make fans wonder if any halfway decent wrestler can beat Alves at this point.
The Muay Thai wrecking ball is in desperate need of a win over a top 10 welterweight in his next outing in order to remain relevant within the division.
As mentioned earlier, Story raised his stock in the welterweight division tremendously by upsetting the highly regarded Thiago Alves at UFC 130.
While some fans were turned off by Story’s wrestling heavy attack, it would be unjust to ignore the fact that he was willing to stand and trade strikes with “The Pitbull” at times.
Story ate plenty of heavy shots from the Muay Thai specialist, but refused to quite and kept coming forward.
“The Horror” Story has already stated that he’d like to fight Jon Fitch next, which would be a true test of how dominant Story’s wrestling actually is.
The fight is pretty logical considering that Fitch is considered the number two welterweight in the UFC, just one spot ahead of Alves.
Regardless if the fight comes to fruition or not, Story has proved that he is a force to be reckoned with against the UFC’s elite.
Condit is one of the most exciting active welterweight fighters in MMA. In 26 career wins, Condit has only left it up to the judges once when he defeated Jake Ellenberger in September of 2009.
While “The Natural Born Killer” is known for being a very dangerous striker, it would be a mistake to overlook Condit’s ground game.
Condit is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and has actually won 13 fights via submission.
At 27 years old, the sky is the limit for the former WEC welterweight champ.
A win over Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 132 may be significant enough to establish Condit as the next challenger for Georges St-Pierre’s belt.
Josh Koscheck has some of the best wrestling in the UFC today, being a former four-time NCAA All-American.
Koscheck is the only man in recent memory to get the fight to the ground against GSP, and while he was easily beaten, Koscheck’s takedowns and toughness are great qualities for any fighter to have.
It has been a while since Koscheck faced a consensus top 10 welterweight besides GSP, so a fight against someone like Rick Story or Rory MacDonald could be a great way for Kos to make his presence felt in the division once he returns from a fractured orbital bone.
BJ Penn is on the tail end of an illustrious career, but he is a shoe-in Hall of Famer being a former lightweight and welterweight champion.
“The Prodigy” is the last man to give GSP a true run for his money back at UFC 58 way back in March of 2006.
Although he was soundly defeated in their 2009 rematch, the only men to defeat Penn at welterweight are GSP and Matt Hughes.
Penn is 2-1 against Hughes though, soundly knocking out the former 170 pound juggernaut in his return to the 170 pound weight class in November of 2010.
After a draw against Jon Fitch in February, the most likely scenarios for the Hawaiian jiu jitsu specialist are either a rematch with Fitch, or a showdown with fellow BJJ black belt Jake Shields.
Despite dropping a unanimous decision to GSP in the main event of UFC 129, it would be ill advised to dismiss Jake Shields as a contender in the UFC’s welterweight division.
Shields wrestling and jiu jitsu is very difficult to overcome, as he is a highly skilled grappler who is typically relentless.
While he has under whelmed in both of his fights under the UFC banner, it is unlikely that there are many, if any, other fighters at 170 pounds that can overcome Shields’ takedowns and submissions.
The former Purdue wrestling captain has remained a top contender at 170 even after he was soundly beaten down in his one and only title fight back in August of 2008.
Fitch has defeated welterweight notables such as Paulo Thiago, Diego Sanchez, and the former consensus number three welterweight Thiago Alves (twice).
Exceptional takedowns and masterful top control are the main keys to Fitch’s success. While he is rarely one of the more exciting fighters to watch, the bottom line is that he just keeps on winning.
Although he is currently on the shelf recovering from shoulder surgery, Fitch has stated that rematches with either GSP or BJ Penn are the only fights that make sense for him.
A Fitch-St. Pierre rematch could have interesting implications if Fitch is again soundly defeated. His takedowns and top pressure could be a real problem for UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Love him or hate him at this point in his career, it is impossible to deny that Georges “Rush” St-Pierre is a cut above the rest at 170 pounds.
GSP is on a nine fight win streak, soundly beating the likes of Jake Shields, BJ Penn, Josh Koscheck, and Jon Fitch.
The highly skilled Canadian can consistently set the pace of the fight with unstoppable takedowns, a great Muay Thai/karate striking game, and very solid submission defense.
Rumors are running rampant that GSP will defend his title against the winner of Dong Hyun Kim and Carlos Condit now that UFC President Dana White has confirmed that St-Pierre will not face Nick Diaz at UFC 140.