MMA Power rankings: The Welterweights


If the Light Heavyweight division in MMA is the best with the most storied history, than the welterweights are a close second. From Hayato “Mach” Sakurai and Matt Hughes of yesteryear to Georges St. Pierre and Nick Diaz today, the 170 lb division has always been full of talent. Here is a list of the most talented competitors at 170 lbs today:

1. Georges “Rush” St. Pierre: C’mon did you expect anyone else? GSP has beaten almost every top contender the world has had to offer. He has done it with striking (Jon Fitch, Matt Hughes, Jay Hieron, Koscheck), wrestling (BJ, Hughes, Sherk), BJJ (Trigg, Hardy, Koscheck), and mixing it all together (Alves). While his style lately has been frowned upon for a safety first approach, you can’t argue with the results: He hasn’t lost a round since the first fight with Koscheck (which was almost 4 years ago). However, talks of a potential super fight with Anderson Silva have crept back into everyone’s mind so his next fight with Jake Shields might be his last at 170. If he beats Jake, and moves up, you can rest assure that he will be looked at as the best 170lber to ever walk the earth.

2. Jake Shields: The man who hasn’t lost since dropping a disappointing decision loss to Akira Kikuchi back in 2004, is not the typical fighter. He is a vegetarian, he’s never developed what you could qualify as decent stand-up, and he has become one of the best BJJ fighters in the world today. His style has led him to wins over Dan Henderson, Jason Miller, Martin Kampman, Robbie Lawler, Paul Daley, and Carlos Condit just to name a few. He holds grappling victories over Leo Santos and Vinny Magalhaes (two of the most accomplished BJJ competitors in the world). He was an all American wrestler in college, and used his style to develop American Jiu-jitsu (a hybrid of wrestling and BJJ). Although his style does not lend it self well to a fight with GSP, if Jake can get on top at some point, GSP will be in the most trouble he’s been in since Matt Serra blasted him with an overhand right.

3. Josh Koshcheck: Another wrestler. This is starting to get redundant. Josh Koscheck started his career as the cocky guy coming off the ultimate fighter show. Along the way he has shown what in my opinion is the best blast double leg takedown in the sport. Although his stand up is still unrefined he holds KO victories over Yoshiyuki Yoshida, Dustin Hazelett, and Frank Trigg. His chin has shown fragility in the past as he was rocked by Thiago Alves, Anthony Johnson and GSP and even stopped by Paulo Thiago.

4. Jon Fitch: The consistent grinder. While lacking in entertainment value at certain points you know what your going to get when you see a Jon Fitch fight. He is going to take you down, beat you up, and try to submit you. While you may be able to survive that, you’re not going to be able to offer up any offense to actually have a chance at winning the fight. It may not be pretty, but it’s sure as hell effective. The only guys who have had actual flashes of offense against Fitch in the past three years are GSP, Chris Wilson and Mike Pierce and the latter two both only lasted for seconds. Again, it may not be pretty (Let’s face it it’s boring), but it works.

5. (tie) BJ Penn: It’s my rankings list, and I say “let there be ties”! The first of 2 of my 3 favorite fighters to make this list: BJ’s nickname is “The Prodigy”. Prodigy is defined in the dictionary a couple of different ways so ill give you the one that makes the most sense for BJ – something extraordinary or inexplicable (a highly talented child or youth doesn’t fit a 32 year old). BJ has used fast hands, exceptional athletic ability, and a legendary BJJ game to beat fighters in the cage such as (Matt Hughes, Sean Sherk, Kenny Florian, Din Thomas, and Diego Sanchez). His cardio has always been what holds him back in big fights (BJ has never lost a fight before the third round). His next fight is against Fitch. The guy with all the athletic ability and potential against the hardworker who’s had to scratch and claw for every win he has. Somethings gotta give.

5. (tie) Thiago Alves: A huge WW with good takedown defense, great striking, and good submission defense. Thiago has used his skills to climb the ranks of MMA while simultaneously growing into the body of a MW. He has wins over Matt Hughes, Josh Koscheck, and Karo Parisyan that crown his resume while also beating the likes of Chris Lytle, John Howard, and John Alessio. His fight with Ricky Story should prove if the win over “Doomsday” was the start of a comeback, or a one-off great night.

7. Nick Diaz: The best boxing in MMA. I get a lot of flack for saying that (and I’ll probably get the same here), but I think it’s true. Diaz has consistently beat up guys with high level combinations, body shots, and quick countering inside hooks that leave his opponents guessing where the next shot is coming from. More importantly, he has done it most recently against striking based fighters. Against Frank Shamrock (who just got finished holding his own on the feet against Cung Le), he used his reach and pressure to nullify every advantage Frank could have had. Against Scott Smith he did the same. KJ Noons who himself has over 14 wins in professional boxing, Diaz used those inside hooks to brake KJ’s jaw and keep him from leaping in all fight. This is all pretty impressive fore a fighter more known for his BJJ and guard game than his striking. With those two factors you would think Diaz would be higher on a list like this, but one factor keeps him from that, below average wrestling. What’s worse is that his wrestling used to be at least applicable, but in fights with KJ and Cyborg it was clear that it has regressed. Still Diaz is one of the most talented fighters in the division, and the second of my favorite fighters that made this list (The other is MW Robbie Lawler).

8. Rick Story: Ricky impressed me immensely when he was able to stop takedowns repeatedly against the Johny Hendricks (who is a two time national champion and national runner up). His striking was put on display against Dustin Hazelett, and his BJJ was shown off when he tapped Brian Foster with an arm-triangle choke while still in his opponents guard. His resume is outlined with wins against the aforementioned Hendricks, Foster, and Hazelett while also holding victories over Jesse Lennox, Nick Osipczak, and Jake Ellenberger. He still has a little bit of proving to do if opponents can get him to his back or stop his from muscling them around, but the future looks bright for “The Horror”.

9. Tyron Woodley: Tyron tried out for the US side of The Ultimate Fighter season 9. He was one of the final cuts before the season was started with the elimination fights. Which begs the question: What in the world were they looking for? Woodley is a former conference champion in wrestling, and two time All American. He has finished 6 out of his first 8 fights (5 by submission), and is undefeated. Tyron has yet to be tested by a decent striker with good takedown defense, and unless Strikeforce makes a major signing, he will probably not have that opportunity in said promotion. A fight with Nick Diaz seems to be in his future, and for all the skill Diaz possesses it’s a very winnable fight for Woodley.

10. Carlos Condit: A man with what in my opinion is the best nickname in MMA (The Natural Born Killer, amazing), Condit poses a serious threat to any one he steps in the cage with. He has the ability to knock out his opponents with any appendage, and can just as easily submit you from his back. He has used an effective guard and sweeps to keep wrestlers from doing damage while on top of him during fights, and when he has an opponent hurt he finishes him. He is a slow starter so he regularly gives away opening rounds, and sometimes get hurt on the feet, but as the fight goes on he always gets stronger. A fight with Chris Lytle would’ve been guaranteed excitement.

Honorable Mentions: Ben Askren,Rory MacDonald, Johny Hendricks, Lyman Good, Chris Lozano, Rick Hawn, Nick Osipczak,

  • niiice. good explanations.

    i still would put fitch at 2, and leave everyone else where they lie (aside from them dropping one spot). one cannot deny his record: never been finished in the ufc, got ko’d from a knee off a shotty shot in, and was only rnc’d in his very first fight before he was truly training mma.

  • p.s. i feel stun gun should get a nod. dude’s undefeated.

  • I personally would have Nick higher.

  • No offense to edub or Josh Koscheck but Kos needs to be bumped down the list, alot. starting with Nick Diaz, there’s not a single person above Diaz’s name that Kos could beat. I’m not sure Jake Shields deserves 2nd place just yet but i do think he is the only person besides GSP than can beat Jon Fitch at 170lbs. and im not so sure about putting Rick Story in there when you still got beasts like Martin Kampmann, Matt Hughes, and Paul Daley.

  • seriously…! diaz is a better striker and better on the ground than gsp! and condit should be ranked higher as of now !

  • edumb diaz dosnt hav the best boxing in mma kid. hes up there but not the best. top 5 are 1.BJ Penn 2. Belfort 3. Dos santos 4. Diaz 5. Rampage this is boxing for mma. gsp has a good jab thats bot it. alvarez aint bad either ther a few more.

  • Diaz should definitely be top 4 imo. He does have great boxing (very clinical although he lacks KO power), a p4p chin and superb BJJ. He’s one of the most well rounded fighters at welterweight and has a wealth of experience too.

  • I personally would have Alves ranked higher than Penn, Shields and Koscheck.

    Thiago would more than likely TKO/KO Koscheck (this time around) and Shields by stuffing them. Alves would probably stun Penn with a knee and slide through with a decision victory.

    I sense Alves will probably rip Rick Story to shreds, but you never know.

    Carlos Condit should also been ranked higher. The guy has huge heart, powerful stand up and an underrated gound game.

    Props for mention Judoka – Rick Hawn, as well.

  • I never SAID anything, u didnt hav to listen u had to READ. try again dummy!

  • um wheres Semtex and Hardy?

  • Where is Hardy, Daley or Lytle in this lst even Anthony Johnson should get more respect than rick story.. WHAT YOU TALKING BOUT SON!

  • all very true but there’s one thing you have to remember. Fitch beats everyone kos loses to besides GSP. and Kos got knocked out by Paulo Thiago, who B.J. is better than in every aspect of the sport. in the end its all just speculation. but my personal opinion is that you think Koscheck is significantly better than he actually is.

  • i dont understand how koschek can be higher than thiago alves.

  • I mostly agree but i think Nick should be higher and id have to say Fitch despite his style should be #2. Cool post tho.

  • yo edub you forgot martin kampmann, hes atleast an honourable mention, better than ospi…difficult name, and also daleys a bit higher

  • i don’t see how you can say Rampage has better boxing than Robbie Lawler.

  • or better boxing than Mousasi actually.

  • diaz got really goo skills! diaz can hit hard enough too ko any 1! lol just look what he done too lawler.

  • i dont got too think that homie! i know that! diaz is up in ur face stand up! gsp is still green standing up! yes gsp is only learning the basics from what i seen with koscheck! coming in jabbing and leaving! thats the 2 differances! and thats why diaz is better!

  • i think Hardy is def a honorable mention and Semtex is top 10 IMO