FightLines: UFC Welterweights

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A JOHNSON <> BURNS
SOTO > OSIPCZAK > RIDDLE > SOTO
KOSCHECK > DALEY > KAMPMANN > THIAGO > KOSCHECK

Would you look at that. Georges St-Pierre is the best welterweight in the UFC.

There are a couple of interesting things going on under the hood since the last iteration. GSP loses both the first Josh Koscheck and first Matt Serra fights from our system (we only look at a three year window), though nothing really changes on the surface. St-Pierre already had a path to Serra through Matt Hughes, and he still has a path to Koscheck through Thiago Alves.

We did, however, pick up an interesting loop between Koscheck, Paul Daley, Martin Kampmann, and Paulo Thiago. As a result, Daley and Kampmann emerge unblemished on the graph; Thiago is stonewalled by Jon Fitch; and Koscheck is left with direct paths to four middling welterweights.

Assuming St-Pierre gets by Koscheck (and tons of opportunities open up if he doesn't), the UFC is backed into a weird spot. Dana White promised the winner of Fitch/Alves a title shot only to renege his offer almost immediately following the fight. It seems like it would open up the door for either Kampmann or Jake Shields, who meet at UFC 121.

The optimist in me, however, wants to believe the following scenario. Kampmann and Shields fight in October. GSP and Koscheck fight in December. Anderson Silva is rumored to fight Chael Sonnen again in late February/early March. If GSP and Silva get by their opponents, they face each other in a superfight headlining the big July show. Fitch fights the winner of Kampmann/Shields for a welterweight title shot (or for the title if GSP vacates) in April or May.

A look at the relevant, upcoming welterweight fights after the break.

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Matt Serra vs. Chris Lytle @ UFC 119 - This is a rematch of the Ultimate Fighter 4 finals. Serra won a split decision over Lytle. I scored the fight for "Lights Out," but whatever. I expect a more entertaining fight than their first go-round, which featured both fighters being tentative with a title shot on the line.

Dan Hardy vs. Carlos Condit @ UFC 120 - Dan Hardy looked absolutely impotent in his title fight with GSP. Rory MacDonald beat up Condit for close to ten minutes before Condit turned this around and earned a stoppage with less than 10 seconds remaining.

John Hathaway vs. Mike Pyle @ UFC 120 - This fight only garners interest because Hathaway put a drubbing on Diego Sanchez. A win probably gets him the winner of Hardy/Condit.

Jake Shields vs. Martin Kampmann @ UFC 121 - This will be Kampmann's second time welcoming a hyped new face into the UFC. Shields enters the UFC as the former EliteXC welterweight champ and the former Strikeforce middleweight champ. Does the winner get a title shot?

Diego Sanchez vs. Paulo Thiago @ UFC 121 - Paulo Thiago has taken one of the most impressive paths since entering the UFC: Koscheck, Fitch, Volkmann, Swick, Kampmann, and now Sanchez. Diego's back to Jackson's after losses to B.J. Penn and John Hathaway, and the realization that he's nowhere near a title shot.

Georges St-Pierre vs. Josh Koscheck @ UFC 124 - I hope you're excited for this fight because you're about to get three months of hype for it.

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