McGrath: Ranking the top welterweights in MMA

By David McGrath, MMATORCH contributor

Tyron Woodley (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea © USA Today Sports)

1. Tyron Woodley (UFC welterweight champion)

Woodley has established himself as one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world. With wins over Darren Till, Stephen Thompson, and Demian Maia, Woodley has beaten almost all the top contenders in the division. Woodley is a dominant game plan fighter who picks his fights and his spots very well. look for Tyron to be booked against either Colby Covington or Kumaru Usman in very early 2019.

2. Rory Macdonald (Bellator welterweight champion)

Rory had a rough outing in his move to 185 and quest to be the double champ in Bellator against Gegard Mousasi. I’m going to rank him #2 and give him respect as the champion in the second most competitive MMA promotion on earth. Up next for Rory is Jon Fitch sometime in March. Rory is a warrior and one of the greatest welterweights of all time, deserving of #2.

3. Colby Covington

Covington is equally as good in the octagon as he is on the microphone. Covington dominated Rafael Dos Anjos and Demian Maia enroute to the interim welterweight championship. Whenever Covington and Woodley do unify the belts (not holding my breath) it will be one of the biggest welterweight title fights in some time.

4. Kamaru Usman

Usman is a scary puncher and a dominant wrestler who nobody wants to see across the octagon from them. Usman looked absolutely dominant against Dos Anjos at the TUF 28 finale and definitely earned himself a title shot next year. Usman is a tough matchup for any top welterweight and looks like the future of the division.

5. Darren Till

Till is in limbo a bit. Not sure if he is moving to middleweight where he belongs or staying at 170. I still rank Till high, he’s had great wins against Stephen Thompson and Cowboy Cerrone and is still extremely young and highly skilled. His only loss came to the champion Woodley and I think over time that will only help him wherever weight he finds a home at.

6. Stephen Thompson

Thompson has had tough decision losses against both Woodley and Till. He’s one of the hardest puzzles to figure out in the UFC and has given everyone he fights major troubles. My only question with Wonderboy is his age, and with the damage he’s taken how long will it last? Look for Thompson to take a top 5 fight early in 2019.

7. Rafael Dos Anjos

Dos Anjos is one of the most underrated fighters in MMA. Even coming off a loss against Usman I still rank him in the top 10 of his division. Dos Anjos has excellent cardio, a good and improved striking game and a great ground game. Dos Anjos is a fighter and will be fighting big fights in 2019.

8. Santiago Ponzinibbio

Ponzinibbio will have a top six fight next year. Combining knockout power with great pace he is one of the scariest fighters in the 170 pound weight class. Ponzinibbio has called for a title shot, let’s see him get another top six win and I could definitely see that being a discussion in 2019.

9. Robbie Lawler

It seems like Robbie has been away forever injured. Let’s not forget Lawler was the welterweight champion just two years ago and one of the biggest warriors in UFC history. Lawler draws promotional newcomer Ben Askren March 2 at UFC 235 and I’m very interested to see how he does in his return.


10. Ben Askren

I’ve been critical Askren, but I can’t deny a perfect 18-0 record and being a two promotion welterweight champion. That being said I’m suspect of Askren and if he loses to #9 Robbie Lawler in March , I will remove him from my top ten rankings.

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