Breaking Down The UFC Welterweight Division

Current UFC Interim Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit via cdn1.sbnation.com

Continuing with the series of in-depth divisional breakdowns that started earlier today with a look at the Bantamweight division (read it here), the Featherweight division (read it here) and then the Lightweight division (read it here), we move on to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight division.

With the world's leading mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion in the middle of one of its longest stretches of down time in months, (and with the summer season jam-packed with events), I thought now would be the perfect opportunity to take an in-depth look at all the divisions to clearly identify who is in the title picture, who isn't, who is building themselves into a contender and whose jobs are on the line.

The UFC is essentially an endlessly on-going tournament, with two brackets: One for match winners and one for match losers. Just about the only time that Joe Silva and Dana White match up a guy coming off a win with a guy coming off a loss is if the guy coming off a loss was fighting for a title. Otherwise, it's almost always winner vs winner and loser vs loser.

It's a pretty sensible way of doing things, ensuring that there will always be guys with a few wins in a row and others with a couple of losses in a row, opening up the chance for new blood to enter into the company.

So anytime you are looking at a division and trying to see what the future will hold, it's mandatory to know who are the fighter's on win streaks and who are the fighters on losing streaks. As such, I've been organizing each division by wins and losses for a few months now and throughout today I'll be posting up my take on each division based on this data. I'm not going to be doing an in-depth feature on the flyweight division, as there has only been two fights in the division thus far.

Therefore, we move on to the Welterweight division (170 pounds):

Nine Wins: Georges St. Pierre
Six Wins: Jake Ellenberger
Five Wins: Carlos Condit
Three Wins: Brian Ebersole, Johny Hendricks
Two Wins: Josh Koscheck, Rory MacDonald, T.J. Waldburger, Josh Neer, Martin Kampmann
One Win: Jake Shields, Paulo Thiago, John Hathaway, Damarques Johnson, John Maguire, Mike Pyle, Dong Hyun Kim, Matt Riddle, Pascal Krauss, Che Mills, Matt Brown, Stephen Thompson, Lance Benoist, Charlie Brenneman

Rookies: Siyar Bahadurzada, Simeon Thoresen, Besam Yousef, Dan Miller, Demian Maia, Chris Clements

One Loss: Jon Fitch, Nick Diaz, Mike Pierce, Thiago Alves, Diego Sanchez, Ricardo Funch, Jorge Lopez, Claude Patrick, Papy Abedi, James Head, Rich Attonito, Dan Stittgen, Justin Edwards, Jake Hecht, Dwayne Ludwig, Luis Ramos, Erick Silva, Carlos Eduardo Rocha, Amir Sadollah, Mike Scanlon, Mike Stumpf, James Wilks, Keith Wisniewski
Two Losses: Matt Hughes, Rick Story, Mike Swick, Chris Cope, David Mitchell, Sean Pierson
Three Losses: Daniel Roberts
Four Losses: Dan Hardy, Yoshihiro Akiyama

With six straight wins, Ellenberger is quickly approaching "best fighter to never win a championship" status, if he isn't already there. I know Fitch had that crown for awhile, but the way Ellenberger is beating his opponents is a lot more impressive and with the power that he has, he actually stands a chance of beating St. PIerre. Not to ignore Condit, who has also strung together a bunch of impressive wins. As far ahead of everyone else in the division as GSP is, Ellenberger and Condit are quickly approaching that same level, and it's too bad we didn't get to see them square off again for the chance to fight the champion. Nevertheless, if Ellenberger can get past Kampmann, he's almost surely going to be waiting for the winner of Condit/GSP.

BOOKED FIGHTS:

I love where this division is sitting, with 20 fights booked and just about every single fighter from the winners bracket has a fight. Of these fights, Thiago/Bahadurzada will be a great chance for us to see what "Siyar the Killer" has to offer. Apparently he's the real deal, and a fight with Thiago is the definition of being dropped into the deep end. Of course the Koscheck/Hendricks fight has big time title contention implications, as does the Ellenberger/Kampmann match up. The best of the rest includes Macdonald/Mills, Pierce/Rocha and the welterweight debut of Demian Maia. All told, there has probably never been this many top welterweights in training camp, as you'll see in a moment.

UNBOOKED WINNERS:

Jake Shields, Charlie Brenneman, Lance Benoist

Yep, that's it. Just three guys coming off wins who don't have an opponent and none of them are exactly on the same "level." I could see Brenneman and Benoist getting paired up just because, or I could see them getting one of the winners from the Sweden card (four welterweight bouts). As for Shields? He'll probably get the winner of Thiago/Bahadurzada, with an outside chance of getting Fitch or Erick Silva (who is coming off a loss that almost surely should have been a win)

UNBOOKED LOSERS:

Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves, Diego Sanchez, Claude Patrick, Dan Stittgen, Justin Edwards, Jake Hecht, Erick Silva, Mark Scanlon, Mike Stumpf, James Wilks, Matt Hughes, Mike Swick, Chris Cope, David Mitchell, Sean Pierson, Daniel Roberts, Yoshihiro Akiyama

Looking at that list, while Fitch, Alves, Sanchez and Hughes are the big names, the one I'm most interested in is the aforementioned Erick Silva. I'd love to see him get a big time fight, since he has done severe damage to his two opponents in less than two minutes of cage time. Once upon a time he was supposed to get a fight with Mike Swick, but who knows if Swick will ever fight again. What about Hughes in a classic "build a new star" match? I can't wait to see who he fights. As for the rest of these guys, what about Thiago Alves and Diego Sanchez? The fight makes a lot of sense right now and they are both free. The other big name on the list is Akiyama, who has managed to stick around despite a 1-4 record in the Octagon. He probably has one more chance before he loses his job, and a match with Fitch would be a good clash of styles and also has some name value. Everyone else is pretty new to the promotion or hasn't won much, so there isn't much to say about them.

That wraps up the 170 pounders. Who do you guys want to see for Erick Silva? Fitch? Is it fair for Ellenberger to be putting his six-fight win streak on the line against a guy who has only won two in a row? What do think the division will look like at the end of the summer, as we prepare for St. Pierre and Condit to unify the titles? I didn't include him on the list, but Nick Diaz is somewhere out there, smoking weed and swimming, or biking, or running. Will he return sometime next year and if he does, who will be waiting for him?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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