While the UFC has certainly upped it’s talent pool with the addition of many fighters from the Pride Fighting Championships, the UFC welterweight division has always been deep in talent.
So, choosing the five best fighters in the division is no easy task. In fact, when the current UFC welterweight champion only comes in third out of five on my ranking you can see how difficult the choices are. I will do my best.
5. Jon Fitch is #5 on my top UFC welterweight list. While the UFC marketing machine has been busy promoting Diego Sanchez and Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch has been slowly building what is the best record in the welterweight division. In fact, Fitch has not been defeated since 2002. He’s beaten Luigi Fioravanti, Thiago Alves, Josh Burkman, Jeff Joslin and Shonie Carter on route to his current thirteen fight winner streak. Unfortunately Fitch has yet to fight any of the fighters in our top 4, something that will be corrected at UFC 76 when he meets our #4 fighter, How to watch UFC 249 Diego Sanchez.
4. Diego Sanchez has a near perfect mixed martial arts record. He’s gone 20 wins with only one defeat. That defeat came at the hands of Josh Koscheck at UFC 69. Diego was going through some health problems at the time, it turned out to be a staph infection in his leg, and probably didn’t fight up to his potential. Wins over Nick Diaz, Karo Parisyan, Joe Riggs and Kenny Florian put Diego up near the big boys in the 170lb weight class.
3. Matt Serra is the current UFC welterweight kingpin. He earned his crown by defeating Georges St Pierre at UFC 69. He not only defeated Georges St Pierre, but humiliated him with a first round knockout. This is the first time that Serra has shown really aggressive, effective striking in the Octagon; I hope it continues. One thing Serra has shown is brilliant Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He’s used those skills in wins over Chris Lytle, Yves Edwards and near decision losses to “The Prodigy”, BJ Penn and Din Thomas.
2. Matt Hughes is the former UFC welterweight champion. He lost his belt to Georges St Pierre, but not before he had a chance to build up wins over Goerges St Piere, Sean Sherk, Frank Trigg, BJ Penn, Carlos Newton and another MMA legend you may have heard of, Royce Gracie.
1. Georges St Pierre has lost to both the #2 and #3 ranked fighters on this list, so how can I justify ranking Georges #1? Call it gut feeling, call it favoritism, I don’t know but what I do know is that Georges St Pierre is the best welterweight fighter in the UFC. Georges does not only have wins over Frank Trigg and Sean Sherk, but dominant, one sided wins. While Matt Hughes struggled with these guys early, Georges just steam rolled them. The same can be said of his second fight with Hughes where St Pierre’s striking and take down defense made it a one sided match up. St Pierre has also defeated BJ Penn, in a close decision, Karo Parisyan and most recently Georges surprised the MMA community by out wrestling Josh Koscheck on way to a decisive victory. Georges is back on track and ready to face the winner of Hughes vs Serra.
Matt Hughes and Matt Serra will fight following the conclusion of the Ultimate Fighter “Team Hughes vs Team Serra” reality show. I believe that Georges St Pierre will face the winner of that fight. The truth is, with a talent pool as deep as the UFC welterweight division any one of the top 6 or 7 fighters in the division (add in Karo and Josh) could beat any other one on any given night. That makes every fight in this division exciting!