What Will the UFC Welterweight Division Look Like After UFC 158?
What will the UFC welterweight division look like after UFC 158?
The absence of the injured Rory MacDonald aside, this Saturday night's fight card is set up as an elimination tournament involving five of the best six 170-pounders in the entire universe.
Champion Georges St-Pierre will finally get his shot at silencing Stockton bad boy and No. 1 contender Nick Diaz in front of his legion of followers in Montreal. GSP has shown a bit of a darker side in the lead up to this fight, and I don't like anyone's chances against an angry and emotionally invested St-Pierre.
Diaz is a formidable foe indeed, with his peppering, pistol like hands being his biggest weapon in a very dangerous and complete arsenal. Diaz is similar to the last challenger, Carlos Condit, in the fact that he is very vulnerable to GSP's bread and butter, the take down. Diaz has very good submissions from his back, but I don't believe that he will do much better than Condit in that regard and GSP will remain the undisputed champion for the eightth consecutive time.
Carlos Condit is coming off his November challenge for the belt, and in my opinion, he remains the next man in the welterweight pecking order. Many people disagree with that and put rising knockout artist Johny Hendricks in that spot over Condit. The MacDonald injury has served the perfect purpose to settle this argument and declare a true No. 1 contender following the fight.
Like Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann before him, Condit is another beast for Hendricks to get through, and if he can beat Condit, he deserves an immediate shot at the GSP-Diaz winner. That will leave a perfect scenario for Condit to revisit his fight with MacDonald.
I don't believe that Hendricks will beat Condit, and it will leave a very tough situation for the UFC if GSP wins, with GSP vs Condit II being the next legitimate title fight at 170-pounds. Are these two men Velasquez-Dos Santos? Do we want to see them rematch so soon? A dilemma will loom after this weekend.
The division implications do not stop there at UFC 158 as Hendricks' original opponent and somewhat forgotten contender Jake Ellenberger remains on the card to face Nate Marquardt. These two men are not a fight away from a title shot but the winner will remain right in the mix with the injured MacDonald and the rest of 170-pound fighters that lose on this card.
Georges St-Pierre will remain the champion after this weekend and Carlos Condit will put a halt to the Hendricks train, leaving these two as the best welterweight's in the world. GSP and Condit have held those spots for at least the last three years and nothing will change this weekend. If the UFC doesn't want to make that rematch yet, look for GSP to go the super fight route and for Condit to face MacDonald.
Diaz will remain defiant in defeat, and will have to take his frustrations out on Johny Hendricks in his next fight. Hendricks will be humbled by Condit, and be forced to fight Diaz to get his long awaited shot at the title, but he may have to wait a long time for it.
Jake Ellenberger will get back in to the picture with a win over Nate Marquardt, but he will be put in a gauntlet with guys like Martin Kampmann, Tarec Saffidine, Demian Maia and maybe even Robbie Lawler and be forced to fight his way out.
Dwight Wakabayashi is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report UFC and regular contributor to Sportsnet.ca's UFC section. Follow him on Twitter @wakafightermma.