Top 10 Welterweight Rankings

nullThis week’s rankings turn to the welterweight division.

It has been a busy couple of months in this division as two of the top 10 suffered losses since my last 170-pound rankings came out.

So, without further ado, here are my top 10 in this division.

1. Georges St. Pierre (22-2) – St. Pierre successfully defeated Jake Shields, but did so by decision. His performance wasn’t great, but it was still enough to end a lengthy win streak by Shields. Instead of moving up to middleweight, St. Pierre will now take on Nick Diaz at UFC 137 in October.

2. Jon Fitch (23-3-1) – Fitch is coming off shoulder surgery and is targeting a return in late 2011. He was originally pushing for a title fight, but is now looking toward a rematch with B.J. Penn. With the UFC implementing five-round main events for non-title fights, Fitch would seem to have the edge there as he got stronger as the first fight with Penn went on.

3. Josh Koscheck (15-5) – Koscheck has been on the shelf for a few months now as he recovers from a broken orbital bone. Koscheck should return in late 2011, and hopefully he can continue to show some solid skills when he gets back. A powerful striker and wrestler, Koscheck has the skills to win it all if he can do the little things to put together the whole package.

4. Nick Diaz (25-7) – The Strikeforce Champion relinquished his belt to take on St. Pierre in October. I suspect he will give GSP a tougher fight than Shields did, as he isn’t afraid of anyone or any punch. Diaz will really have to improve his takedown defense to pose a problem for St. Pierre, but Diaz may have the striking edge in that contest.

5. Jake Shields (26-5-1) – Shields didn’t look his best against St. Pierre and he showed that if he can’t get his opponent to the ground, he probably isn’t going to win. Shields has struggled in his two UFC contests and he needs an impressive showing in his next contest.

6. Nate Marquardt (31-10-2) – It is hard to know just where Marquardt fits in to the welterweight rankings until he fights Rick Story on Sunday, but Marquardt’s overall package should fit in well at 170. I suspect his strength and grappling will be a real challenge for any opponent and his striking is pretty sound too. He can quickly work his way into the top contender spot if he handles the weight cut.

7. Carlos Condit (26-5) – Carlos Condit is similar to Diaz in that he isn’t afraid to fight anyone, anywhere. Condit was able to KO Dan Hardy and find a way to beat the likes of Rory MacDonald and Jake Ellenberger. Condit gets Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 132, in what will be a real test of his skills as Kim can be a very smothering grappler.

8. B.J. Penn (16-7-2) – Penn is still one of the all time greats, but he lacks a win over a solid opponent in nearly 18 months. Penn has some of the fastest hands in MMA and is still a tremendous jiu-jitsu specialist, but he doesn’t have the ability to stay off his back that he once had. A rematch with Jon Fitch could still happen this year and give him a chance to prove he is still relevant in the division.

9. Rick Story (13-3) – Story managed to knock Thiago Alves off this list and put himself into the ninth spot with his decision win over “The Pitbull”. Story has a chance to move up even higher this Sunday when he takes on Marquardt. I like Story’s relentless pressure, but he did show some fatigue against Alves in the third round that nearly cost him the bout.

10. Dong Hyun Kim (14-0-1) – I had Martin Kampmann ahead of Kim in my last rankings, but I couldn’t justify taking an unbeaten fighter off the list. I like what Kim does as he just finds a way to win. He is a big, strong grappler that has been tough for his opponents to figure out. He gets the biggest fight of his career at UFC 132 against Condit, but it will also be a chance for him to prove that he can be a contender at 170

  

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