In November, order was restored at 170 pounds. After 18 months of doubts and questions about the champion’s future reign, we can safely say again that there’s Georges St-Pierre and then there’s everyone else.
Aside from a scare midway through the third round of his title fight with Carlos Condit, GSP displayed his trademark dominance en route to a unanimous decision win.
Because of his retained status on top, a few familiar names have disappeared from the ladder. Josh Koscheck appeared on the ladder while Condit held the interim belt, but with two previous losses to the champion and a prospective move to middleweight, he’s back off the list. I was prepared to put Jon Fitch back on the list after his impressive win at UFC 153 over rising Brazilian Erick Silva, but like Koscheck, his previous loss to GSP keeps him from any realistic shot at contention.
Aside from those two, the welterweight division is pretty straightforward. Every fighter on the ladder but one is scheduled to fight by March and each knows that they are only a few wins away from getting a shot at the belt.
Champions: Georges St-Pierre
I don’t believe that we saw a fully healthy GSP at UFC 154, but even worse news for the rest of the division. Even with ring rust, he is still far and away the best fighter at 170.
Contenders: Johny Hendricks, Nick Diaz
As big of a Nick Diaz fan as I am, even I can’t justify giving him a title shot over Johny Hendricks, who is coming off of yet another under one minute knockout over Martin Kampmann. But what GSP wants, GSP gets. Diaz’s suspension ends next month and he and St-Pierre will go to war in March, barring any injuries…or antics from Nick.
In The Discussion: Carlos Condit, Jake Ellenberger, Rory MacDonald, Demian Maia
He’s back knocked down a few rungs, but Carlos Condit is officially a top welterweight and has no shortage of excellent fights to choose from as he begins his climb back to the top. His first stop will be a rematch with Canadian Rory MacDonald, who suffered his first (and only) loss to Condit nearly two years ago.
On The Rise: Siyar Bahadurzada
Bahadurzada has only fought once in the Octagon, but like ten of his other victories, it ended in a knockout of Paulo Thiago. Hopefully, he can follow in the footsteps of Carlos Condit and have a breakout fight against Dong Hyun Kim in March.
Demian Maia vs. Jon Fitch – UFC 156 (February 2)
Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Dong Hyun Kim – UFC on Fuel 8 (March 3)
Carlos Condit vs. Rory MacDonald – UFC 158 (March 16)
Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz – UFC 158 (March 16)