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8/9/16: Five Fights to Make in UFC’s Welterweight Division
Tyron Woodley’s pushing for a fight against someone other than the top competitor in the division, so assuming he gets the fight he’s looking for, here are five of the best fights to be made at the top end of the welterweight field.
5. Kelvin Gastelum vs. Gunnar Nelson: Both 2-2 over their last four fights, Gastelum and Nelson have been beat by some very good fighters in the division while delivering some significant victories of their own. Gastelum’s coming off a win over former champ Johny Hendricks, while Nelson demolished Albert Tumenov in May with a fantastic neck crank submission. This would be a highly competitive fight, and it’s the right level bout for each of them as they try to make their way up the ranks once again.
4. Neil Magny vs. Lorenz Larkin: One of two fights on this list already booked, this might be a more interesting fight than the one Magny was initially booked for against the now-injured Dong Hyun Kim. Magny’s emerged as an unexpected force in the welterweight field, winning 11 of his last 12 fights and stopping several of his opponents in that stretch. Larkin’s been fantastic at 170 lbs., and were it not for a bad judges call in a split decision loss to Albert Tumenov he’d be undefeated in the weight class. Their styles match up well with one another, and it’s going to be a very competitive and entertaining fight.
3. Carlos Condit vs. Demian Maia: The UFC on Fox 21 main event in Vancouver is as good a fight as could have been booked for either fighter with what was already on the schedule. Condit continuing on is a great thing for fans; he’s almost never in a bad fight, and more often than not his fights and finishes wind up ranking among the best in a given year. Maia’s been mostly dominant at welterweight with a couple of exceptions, but is fast closing in on a title fight of his own. Beating Condit here this month would be huge for him in that regard. This is an extremely intriguing fight on a number of levels, and it’s deserving of a spot on this list.
2. Stephen Thompson vs. Nick Diaz: Realistically this fight’s probably not going to happen, but I can’t think of a more intriguing stylistic fight in the division right now. Diaz’s style is to be relentless with his attack, accumulating strikes and never letting up on pressure until it overwhelms his opponents. Thompson’s got the kind of range and movement in his technically sound and highly entertaining striking attack to make Diaz’s style perhaps less effective. If they could get Diaz to agree to it should the Woodley-GSP fight come together, this would be an excellent way to keep Thompson busy.
1. Tyron Woodley vs. Georges St-Pierre: This is the fight Woodley wants, it’s a fight St-Pierre is willing to take, and if the UFC wants to book the fight it’ll be the biggest money matchup Woodley could possibly hope for. St-Pierre returning is going to be a major deal if and when it happens, and trying to regain the title he voluntarily relinquished three years ago makes for a significant story. Put it in New York and it’s an even more massive bout.
[Photo (c) Butch Dill via USA Today Sports]
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