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Digging In – UFC Welterweight Division


The Welterweight Division of the UFC is, in my opinion, the deepest division in the UFC You’ve got established dominators like Tyron Woodley, Stephen Thompson, Neil Magny and Rafael Dos Anjos. You’ve got legends like Robbie Lawler, Donald Cerrone, Demian Maia and Carlos Condit and many Surging contenders such as Darren Till, Colby Covington, Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman. It has many of the most storied fights, The most fighters on the roster, the most beef between fighters, it has everything that you want in a competitive division.

Champion – Tyron Woodley

Tyron Woodley is somewhat of a confusing figure. He got his title shot at UFC 201 against Robbie Lawler after waiting for a total of 18 months. He made the most of it as he knocked out Robbie Lawler within a round. He followed up that performance with a Fight of the Night Draw with Stephen Thompson. After reading these last few sentences you might think that Woodley was doing a great service to the UFC and himself, but fuck you’d be very wrong. His next two fights were absolute stinkers. The rematch with Stephen Thompson was absolutely terrible. The two of them seemed almost scared to trade until the end of the fight. The fight almost ended in a draw once again, but Woodley edged out the win on the scorecards via Split Decision. Now, after hearing the criticism, you might think that he would turn it up in his next fight, but then the next opponent ended up being Demian Maia, a World Champion Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt, to fight hard and flashy against a guy like that would lead to an immediate loss of his title. So, he played it safe once again and grinded out Maia to a Unanimous Decision Victory. The Maia fight broke the record for the fewest strikes landed in a championship bout by a large margin. Imagine watching a fight for 25 minutes and having a total of 57 strikes land. You’d feel cheated too. Before that fight, Georges St. Pierre, one of the UFC Legends unlike any other, was expected to be Woodley’s next opponent and UFC boss Dana White immediately canceled the plans for that fight and gave GSP to Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping. Woodley’s next fight I guarantee will be better than his last two based on the styles of Thompson and Maia. The Interim Welterweight Championship is on the line at UFC 225 and it will be won by either Rafael Dos Anjos or Colby Covington. Those two fighters’ styles should be more fight-fan-friendly in a potential battle with Woodley and I look forward to watching it.

Contenders:

Stephen Thompson: Stephen Thompson just did what many others in the UFC wouldn’t dare to do. Take a fight with a surging prospect in the prospect’s hometown. He Fought Darren Till on Sunday and lost via unanimous decision, and 22 out of 25 media members scored the fight in favor of Thompson. Fans, Fighters and Media Members alike agree that the judges were swayed by the crowd going crazy any time that Till got any kind of shot in, as well as a possible hometown bias. This is really unfortunate for Thompson, Who I believe is the kindest fighter on the roster and a silver example of what a fighter should be. The Commentators said it best when Thompson walked out in Liverpool they said: “You’ll never see a nicer guy get booed so loud”. Thompson is still a force to be reckoned with in the Welterweight Division and I believe that he will face the loser of the Interim Title Fight next.

Colby Covington: Covington made the Jump from prospect to contender with his last win over Demian Maia. He was able to take a Unanimous Decision victory over the BJJ wizard by turning his grappling offenses away and outstriking the legend. However, since his win, his Asshole ways have been front and center on social media. He has greatly insulted the nation and the people of Brazil calling Brazil a “Dump” and calling the Brazilian’s Filthy Animals. Many fighters have been outspoken in their disapproval of his comments, Former Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum threw a boomerang at him. In response, Rafael Dos Anjos wore a Boomerang T-Shirt to a UFC Press Conference that announced the fight between Covington and RDA. To win, Covington will need to have the performance of his life, and then he gets his shot at Welterweight king Tyron Woodley.

Rafael Dos Anjos: The only other example of a fighter who has improved leaps and bounds since moving up a weight class is current Middleweight Champion, Robert Whittaker. RDA has been 3-0 since his move to the Welterweight division, defeating tough customers in Tarec Saffiedine, Neil Magny, and Robbie Lawler. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which he showcased in his victory over Neil Magny and Muay Thai, which he showcased in his victory over Donald Cerrone. RDA now has the hopes and dreams of a nation on his shoulders as he takes on Colby Covington, a man who insulted the nation of Brazil greatly in his last post-fight speech, calling Brazil a “Dump” and calling the residents “Animals”. I’ll end this segment by saying that RDA pulled off one of the greatest troll jobs in the history of the UFC and he didn’t even say anything (Boomerang Mention Above)

Robbie Lawler: At UFC 189, Robbie Lawler faced Rory MacDonald in the first defense of his title. The promotion of the fight was heavily leaning towards the fight between Conor McGregor and Chad Mendes with Lawler Vs. MacDonald being overlooked as the Co-Main Event. Not many people were expecting their breath to be taken away before the main event but hell did it happen. Rory MacDonald and Robbie Lawler went back and forth for five rounds in what is the best fight I’ve ever seen. Lawler took the victory after he broke MacDonald’s nose in the fifth round and MacDonald actually went blind for a moment and turtled up. He followed up that performance with another classic war against Carlos Condit, another fight in my top five favorites. Lawler took the win via Split Decision. The Former Champion has had mixed success since he relinquished the title to Tyron Woodley and switched training camps from American Top Team to Hard Knocks 365. He defeated Donald Cerrone at UFC 214 and then lost a decision to Rafael Dos Anjos in the main event of UFC on Fox – Winnipeg. In that fight, he tore his ACL, therefore he will be out of competition for a little while.

Kamaru Usman: No one in the UFC has been avoided more than Kamaru “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman. No one. Kamaru will wrestle you, pressure you, stop you and break you. I don’t think that Kamaru has lost a single round in his tenure in the UFC… That’s incredible. Since his debut in the UFC, Kamaru has won eight straight fights, Most recently against former title challenger Demian Maia. That Demian Maia fight was a five round fight and Kamaru barely broke a sweat while breaking both of his hands. As a result of those broken hands, Usman will probably be out for a while. But upon his return, he will be granted a fight with another top ten contender, most likely Neil Magny.

Darren Till: Till has come a long way in his UFC Career. A pro with a record of 16-0-1, Till is still undefeated and has been able to have two marquee performances in his UFC Career, The first was his fight of the Night Draw with Nicolas Dalby, but the second helped propel him into the limelight. Darren Till came out of nowhere and became a household name last year when he defeated Donald Cerrone within one round in the Main Event of UFC Fight Night – Gdansk. He followed up that performance by defending home turf and defeating Stephen Thompson in the Main Event of UFC Fight Night – Liverpool. Till with his smooth talking and confident demeanor, help make him the United Kingdom’s next big thing when it comes to MMA.

Other Contenders:

Neil Magny: Neil Magny has been an active member of the UFC Welterweight roster since his debut back in 2013, having a total of 19 fights in five years. The only times he falters in the UFC octagon is when he takes on the Creme-de-la-creme of MMA Grapplers. He stood no chance against Rafael Dos Anjos or Demian Maia. One thing he does do very well though is compete very well against larger competition in the octagon. He ruined natural Middleweight Hector Lombard and took Kelvin Gastelum the distance. His next fight will likely be against Kamaru Usman.

Demian Maia: Demian Maia is the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner in the UFC and possibly all of MMA. He has recently stated that he will fight out the rest of his UFC contract and then retire. Unfortunately for Demian, I don’t believe that he will get another shot at UFC gold and will go down as one of the best to never win one. Best of luck to Maia in retirement.

Jorge Masvidal: Jorge Masvidal has been a member of the UFC roster since the UFC purchased Strikeforce and has performed well at Welterweight and Lightweight. Masvidal really made a name for himself back in January 2017 when he defeated Donald Cerrone in Cerrone’s hometown of Denver, Colorado, battling elevation and a biased crowd. He has lost two straight, but they were losses to top competition in Demian Maia and Stephen Thompson.

Santiago Ponzinibbio: Santiago Ponzinibbio is the Crown Jewel of Spanish-Speaking South American MMA. The Argentinian burst on to the scene when he defeated Gunnar Nelson in the Main Event of UFC Fight Night – Glasgow by knockout. He re-injured himself when he was training to take on Kamaru Usman so he will be out for a short while. The UFC is rumored to put on an event in Argentina and Santiago Ponzinibbio should be at least the Co-Main event of that card.

Donald Cerrone: Tied for the most wins in UFC history with 20, He is now only one win away from taking away the tie and he has a chance to do that in the Main Event of UFC Fight Night – Singapore later this year when he takes on British Prospect Leon Edwards. Cerrone has had some quality, highlight reel, performance of the night finishes in his career. If you’re ever bored, look up his wins over Matt Brown, Jim Miller, Melvin Guillard, Rick Story or Patrick Cote, you will not be disappointed. He also probably has another five years left in him, so I hope he takes that record and runs it so far that it won’t be beaten.

Welterweight Prospects:

Leon Edwards: Leon Edwards is another British prospect who has gotten enough push to receive the Main Event fight of UFC Fight Night – Singapore, where he will be taking on Donald Cerrone. He has won five straight fights against high-quality opponents such as Bryan Barberena, Peter Sobotta, and Vicente Luque. Edwards also has a strong, Confident demeanor to him, which reminds me of Darren Till, another Brit who took advantage of a fight against Donald Cerrone.

Alex Oliveira: Oliveira has been in the UFC for a while, but now he is looking more like the worldbeater that we know he can be. In his last fight, he came in on short notice and defeated former Interim Title Holder Carlos Condit. Before that, he had competed in one of the best fights I’ve ever seen when he and Yancy Medeiros went to work back at UFC 218. He is 5-2 with one No Contest and his stock is going up.

Vicente Luque: Luque has flown under the radar in the Welterweight Division, but he should definitely not be. He has gone 6-1 since his debut fight with all of those wins ending via finish. He speaks Spanish, English, and Portuguese fluently and actually, I think a fight between him and Santiago Ponzinibbio in the main event of UFC Buenos Aires would be a great headliner.

 

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