The UFC welterweight division is loaded with talent. Some of the best 170 pound fighters in the MMA world and some of the best pound for pound fighters are now in the UFC welterweight division. Allow me to take a look at the current state of the division and some fights I'd like to see happen in the near future.
I'm going to begin with the UFC welterweight champion, Georges “Rush" St Pierre. Georges is huge for a 170 pound fighter. He stands 5'10" and is 25 years old. He comes into every fight in spectacular shape and ready for war. Fortunately for Georges, most opponents are not ready for the kind of strength, size and skill he brings to the Octagon. St Pierre is a brilliant striker, fully utilizing his height for both punches and kicks. He brings strikes from all angles and moves in and out of his opponents range well. I don't really believe that Georges St Pierre has any real threats to his title at 170 pounds, but I'm still looking forward to his upcoming match against Matt “The Terror" Serra and would also like to see Georges St Pierre vs Diego Sanchez in the future. The entire world is waiting for the rubber match with Matt Hughes, however Hughes needs to work on his striking and strategy before getting into the ring with St Pierre again.
Diego “The Nightmare" Sanchez is primarily a wrestler, but also has excellent striking and devastating knees. I believe Diego is the only fighter at 170 pounds who can give St Pierre a real run for his money. Diego's bread and butter is his ferocious take downs. He literally charges the opponent into the cage and throws him to the mat. I'd like to see Diego Sanchez fight Matt Hughes as their styles are very similar and I think it would be a career defining fight for Diego if he beats Matt. I'd also like to see Diego Sanchez fight Matt Serra as I think their styles (Matt Serra being an excellent BJJ fighter) would make for a nice match up.
You can not mention the 170 pound welterweight division of the UFC without mentioning it's former champion Matt Hughes. Matt defines strength, skill and heart in the Octagon and deserves another shot at St Pierre's title. The only question is when should Matt take that shot? I think it would be in Matt Hughes best interest to take one or two fights before facing St Pierre again. Winning against two quality opponents would boost Matt Hughes confidence and remind him why he is the most dominant welterweight in UFC history. The one fighter I really want to see Matt face before he goes up against St Pierre again is Diego Sanchez. I've already discussed why I want to see this fight and with both fighters being as popular as they are, it would have huge fan appeal!
I like watching Matt Serra fight. It does not matter who he's fighting, a top notch fighter or even which weight class he's fighting in. Matt Serra is as sound a technical ground fighter as the UFC has ever seen. I believe at 155 pounds (lightweight) he would give Sean Sherk a real run for his money and could be a long time belt holder. At welterweight however, he is simply out gunned physically. He does not have the height to strike with George St Pierre and does not have the size to defeat Matt Hughes. That being said, there is no love lost between Matt Serra and Matt Hughes and I would love to see these two go at it. Matt Serra had some pretty opinionated things to say about Hughes during the Ultimate Fighter season 4, I'd like to see if these two can be as exciting in the ring as they are outside.
Since BJ Penn is apparently moving down to his correct weight class, lightweight, it almost seems inappropriate to put in dream fights for him at 170 pounds. However, I'd like to see BJ Penn fight any top fighter in the world. This is the order I'd like to see these fights.
1) BJ Penn vs Sean Sherk at lightweight
2) BJ Penn vs Diego Sanchez at welterweight
3) BJ Penn vs Matt Hughes at welterweight
4) BJ Penn vs Georges St Pierre at welterweight
For my ultimate BJ Penn dream fight (which will never happen) BJ Penn vs Takenori Gomi in either Pride or UFC.
To finish off, I'd like to list the challengers to Georges St Pierre's belt in order of fight preference.
1) Georges St Pierre vs Diego Sanchez
2) Georges St Pierre vs Matt Hughes
3) Georges St Pierre vs BJ Penn
4) Georges St Pierre vs Matt Serra
There you have it, a virtual state of the nation address for the UFC welterweight division. This is going to be a great year for Mixed Martial Arts.
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