Reranking the 170s in the aftermath of UFC 15welterw8
UFC 158 was quite Welterweight heavy, with the final 3 bouts of the night featuring 5 of the top 7 ranked UFC guys in the division. The fights went more or less exactly how I expected them to (they usually do on Saturdays), so you’ll definitely want to just accept everything I say as gospel. If I’m ever wrong about something, I’ll let you know.
1.) Georges ” Rush” St Pierre
The Hall of Famer-to-be and Greatest Welterweight in the History of Weltering Weights, Georges St Pierre did against Nick Diaz what he has been doing for 6 years now – whatever the hell he wanted to.
Diaz appeared to let GSP take him down early, perhaps believing that he would be able to control the ground through his unorthodox scrambles and guard game, but quickly found himself suffocated by GSP, who is better at keeping his weight on top of his opponent than anyone I’ve ever seen. And when GSP had a moment, GSP struck with elbows, punches and knees.
Once Diaz WAS able to start stuffing the takedowns, a very rare feat against Rush, GSP was able to get his jab through at will…Diaz did some damage on the feet, and was the better striker on the feet, but GSP’s jab was enough to prevent any kind of Stockton momentum, and allowed him in time to get his ground game going again.
For half the fight they boxed, and for half the fight they grappled – and GSP looked incredible at both. Nick Diaz has always said (and has always been correct) that the only way to beat him is to either run away from him, or hold on for dear life. That changed last night. GSP fought Diaz, and he clearly beat Diaz. If there was any doubt of that whatsoever, it should have been erased when Diaz immediately raised GSP’s hand at the conclusion of the bout.
There’s really no argument here. GSP is #1, sans discussion or debate, until someone at least gives him a real challenge.
2.) Johny Hendricks
This selection also doesn’t leave a whole hell of a lot of room for debate. Hendricks has the wrestling, he has the one-punch nuclear bomb, he has the record, and he has the victims. All that’s left now is to face off against the greatest the division has ever seen.
Against Condit, Hendricks rarely really had anything approaching “technique” standing, reloading and throwing that vicious left over and over and over. Several got through, and Condit should get all the respect in the world for standing in there, because they were absolute jackhammers. What Condit couldn’t stop, though he was never really seriously damaged by it, was the takedown (and Suh-LAAAAM). The total game of Hendricks, as contrasted against Condit, an experienced veteran and champ who does everything well, really made a statement.
This is your top UFC Welterweight contender. No doubt.
3.) Carlos Condit
I actually still wanted to put Diaz here again, but it’s just not supportable. Condit had an absolute knock-down (literally) drag-out (literally) war (figuratively, bordering at moments on the literal) with the best one-punch finisher in the game, who happens to also be a highly accomplished, elite amateur wrestler. Condit was strong throughout the fight, and was able to recover from being rocked more times in 15 minutes than the Whiskey A-Go-Go has in the last 50 years.
Condit had no answer for the takedowns of Hendricks, and I thought Nick clearly beat him in their fight, but I think he provides a better match-up for GSP than Hendricks or Diaz. Hendricks seems to me to be a rough-hewn GSP on Bear DNA, while Carlos is just a killer (natural born even) with a sick set of strikes and subs, and all the heart and toughness you need from any good fighter or raging musk ox. He’s not the wrestler that Hendricks is, and he isn’t the boxer that Diaz is, but as a FIGHTER, there is little left to be said about Carlos Condit that hasn’t already been said by his work in a cage.
4.) Rory MacDonald
I like this kid A LOT. Big body, big power, total all-around game, Canadian, and only 23 years of age, MacDonald has been referred to more than once as the next generation’s GSP. He is a figurehead for that new generation, whose style isn’t “wrestling” or “boxing” or “jiu-jitsu”, but only “mixed martial arts”.
MacDonald has been red-hot in the almost 3 years since his only professional loss as a fighter (to Carlos Condit in the Fight of the Night for UFC 115), defeating Nate Diaz, Mike Pyle, Che Mills, and BJ Penn in succession. He hasn’t had any easy outs in the UFC, but has earned a 5-1 record in the world’s largest promotion. Combined with his 9-0 pre-UFC record, MacDonald is now 14-1, and on the short list for title contention.
MacDonald was supposed to rematch Condit at last night’s show, but pulled out with an injury. It will be interesting to see if his next fight is a title eliminator, or just another elite showdown at the top of the class.
5.) Nick Diaz
I know, I know…he supposedly retired again last night, he “lost” to Condit, and GSP dominated him.
Nick Diaz is still one of the top welterweights on Earth. While he was dominated by GSP, joining the club known as “I Fought GSP”, he DID stuff the GSP takedown on several occasions after the 2nd, and he DID do some damage to the champ. As noted before, there are 3 ways to beat Nick Diaz – run away from him, hold onto him, and being Georges St Pierre. Beyond that, you’re still talking about a Cesar Gracie black belt, and what even the champ acknowledges is the best boxer in the entire sport.
There is, no doubt, a lot of schadenfreude following his domination last night, but what GSP did to Diaz doesn’t close the gap between all of the other 170s on Earth and the Stockton bad boy. He may be socially angkward, and he may not have a UFC title to his credit, but Nick Diaz is probably ranked a little low even at #5.
- 6.) Jake Ellenberger
- 7.) Ben Askren
- 8.) Demian Maia
- 9.) Tarec Saffiedine
Strikeforce (Signed to UFC)
- 10.) Robbie Lawler