Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
The UFC welterweight division will get some much-needed clarity after UFC 158. But for now, here's how I would book the division going forward.
Looking at the UFC's nine divisions, it seems that there is one weight class with less current bookings than every other one - the welterweight division. While four of the top seven guys will be competing at UFC 158, only a handful of the other top 25 guys have a scheduled fight coming up. So why not do a little matchmaking, just for fun? I should warn you though, the first half of this is going to be like those multiple scenario books - "If A happens, go to page 52. If B happens, go to page 196". If you get confused, I understand. Maybe I can get Anton to draw a chart or something.
1. If Johny Hendricks beats Carlos Condit at UFC 158, he gets the winner of Georges St. Pierre vs. Nick Diaz. I had to get the obvious one out of the way but wanted to include that this will only happen if Hendricks wins.
2. If Carlos Condit beats Johny Hendricks, Condit should meet Tarec Saffiedine next. I know it's weird, but hear me out. They already tried to insert Saffiedine into a fight with Condit, and they seem to be setting the bar pretty high for Strikeforce champions. Condit won't be challenging for the title again soon (unless Diaz somehow beats GSP) and after eliminating a top contender in Hendricks, they'd be keeping him away from the other potential top contender. Which leads me to...
3. If Georges St. Pierre defeats Nick Diaz at UFC 158 and Condit beats Hendricks, GSP should meet Demian Maia. Let's face it, he should be the next guy in line if Hendricks falters. It's a fresh fight for GSP and presents real danger to him after we saw what Maia did to Jon Fitch. Of all the potential matchups in these scenarios, this is definitely my favorite.
4. The winner of Jake Ellenberger vs. Nate Marquardt at UFC 158 vs. Rory MacDonald. Look, as long as St. Pierre is champion, there's no reason to stick Rory in a top contender's fight because he won't take the title shot if he wins. So in the meantime, he should probably be used in matchups where a guy isn't going to get an immediate shot with a win. That's why Condit/MacDonald 2 made sense. They could go back to that, but if Condit takes out the top contender it will change things a bit.
6. If GSP and Hendricks end up facing off, book Robbie Lawler vs. Demian Maia. It's a winnable fight for Maia that leaves him as a viable contender, and it will get people past the stigma that Maia can't handle hard hitters. And if Lawler does win, then he's right back at the top of a division where he has faced none of the contenders so there are lots of matchmaking options.
5. Martin Kampmann vs. Nick Diaz - Yes, I'm making the assumption that Diaz loses to GSP. No, I don't care if you don't like it. This is the best possible bounce-back fight for both men, and it's an awesome style matchup.
6. Mike Pierce vs. Tyron Woodley/Jake Shields winner - It might end up being pretty boring and Pierce has been fed a steady diet of wrestlers, but it would push the winner right to the edge of the top 10 and into some bigger bouts.
7. Dong Hyun Kim vs. John Hathaway - Many will believe this is a step down for Kim, but I think it's a good matchup. Hathaway is 7-1 in the UFC and he's a big, strong grappler just like Kim (who is 8-2, 1 NC in the organization).
9. Josh Koscheck vs. Tyron Woodley/Jake Shields loser - This just makes sense to me. Wrestler vs. wrestler, battle to stay in the main card mix, etc.