Title Fight Round Up Part Two: Welterweight ? The British Are Coming!
Part two from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/3...-1-lightweight
This year should be an interesting year in Mixed Martial Arts. The return of Brock Lesnar, the rematch of Machida vs Shogun and Strikeforce making it's run at trying to compete with the UFC.
The UFC is currently blessed with three champions that every MMA expert out there considers unbeatable kings of their divisions: BJ Penn, George St Pierre and Anderson Silva.
But saying that a fighter is unbeatable is one thing. It must be put to the test fight after fight in order to remain true. Some voices out there clamor for the dominant champions to retire so their divisions can be interesting again.
I couldn't disagree more. There is absolutely nothing in this world that does more to promote your sport like a dominant champion. How much did Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson hurt boxing by their domination? They didn't. All they did was massively increase the popularity of boxing. The Miami Dolphins, Pittsburg Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots all took turns dominating football, and the sport has risen to greater popularity than anyone would have imagined.
There's nothing like a living legend to put your sport on the map. New fans have something constant for a point of reference in each weight division. Long-time fans can spend countless hours trying to figure out "who's gonna beat the champ and how are they gonna to do it?"
Almost across the board, the title picture for each and every weight class gives us plenty to talk about.
So proceeding to Welterweight:
Current Champion: George St Pierre [19 wins, 2 losses] George St Pierre is an incredible athlete. His only career losses were to former or future champions and in both cases a valuable lesson was learned. Against Hughes he learned that too much respect for your opponent was foolishness. Against Serra he learned that in spite of his outstanding striking skills, anyone can get caught on the button knocked out. So you have to prevent it from ever happening again. George has adapted his game to avoid losing to strikers by nullifying their ability to strike in the clinch and in takedowns. His ground game completely outclasses any Welterweight in the world today. The trouble with finding good match ups for GSP is simple: He's already beaten all the best Welterweights in the world.
So what do you do? For now you go to up-and-coming stars. And when that fails you resort to rematches with guys he's already beaten.
Next challenger for Welterweight Title: Dan Hardy
Contenders who are on the verge of a title shot:
Dan Hardy [23-6] - "The Outlaw" is unquestionably a tough fighter with a lot of talent. Hardy is probably a better fighter that a lot of people give him credit. He hasn't lost by stoppage in five years. He's on a 4-0 win streak in the UFC. What we've seen from Dan Hardy is a fighter, who consistently wins, but not always in impressive fashion. Against GSP, Dan would need to stop an unstoppable takedown machine. Once it goes to the ground, it's all GSP. Hardy is tough and he'll make a fight of it, but I don’t think his takedown defense is up to the task. My prediction: St Pierre by ground and pound TKO/KO in round 3.
John Fitch [21-3] - Fitch is an amazing fighter. With a record of 11 wins and 1 loss in the UFC, nobody has ever beaten him in the octagon but GSP. The problem with Fitch is that he's not that much different of a fighter since losing a five round beat-down to GSP two years ago. If he beats Thiago Alves and earns himself a title shot, I think it's only right that Fitch gets another crack at GSP. I also think it'll be de ja vu all over again, with GSP winning every round but Fitch never stopping. My Prediction: George St Pierre by Unanimous Decision.
Paul “Semtex” Daley [23-8] - Everybody loves a devastating striker, and Paul Daley just might be the most dangerous 170 pound striker in the world right now. 18 of his 23 wins came by knockout. But his glaring weakness is in the past has been his ground game, with 5 submission losses there. If he can beat Josh Koscheck, he'll have proven that he can beat a guy with elite wrestling and grappling skills. If your takedown defense is good enough to stop Koscheck, you just might be able to keep the fight with GSP standing long enough to actually use that devastating power to full effect. IF Semtex actually gets to the title shot by beating Koscheck, then I'm going to go way out on a limb by predicting an upset. Paul Daley by 2nd round KO.
Paulo Thiago [13-1] - There have been few fighters who have made a bigger splash in the UFC recently, all while garnering minimal attention. Paulo has chalked up stoppage wins over Koscheck and Swick, and beating fighters of that caliber means your a contender. A Unanimous Decision loss to Jon Fitch means you get to sit down and wait awhile for a title shot. Thiago has an excellent ground game and enough power in his hands to KO Josh Koscheck, which is no small feat. With a win over Martin Kampmann, Paulo Thiago could line himself up for a title shot in the very near future. And how would the fight with GSP go? I'm predicting George St Pierre by TKO in Round 4.
Josh Koscheck [16-4] - Here's your long-shot contender. Josh Koscheck already lost to the champion in 2007. Since then, he's lost to Thiago Alves and Paulo Thiago. At this point, Koscheck needs to string together a few impressive victories in a row in order to build a case for himself for a title shot. Beating Anthony Johnson was a good first step. Beating Paul Daley would be another solid step in the right direction. Rematch wins over Thiago Alves and Paulo Thiago would seal the deal. So how does Josh stack up against George St Pierre? I would say he's very similar to GSP -- almost a rough copy of the champion. He's also inferior to GSP in all areas. Koscheck would make a good fight of it though. My prediction: George St Pierre by 5th round TKO.
The Welterweight division is the one division that the UFC absolutely dominates. There are very, very few legitimate threats to GSP outside the UFC.
You have Nick Diaz, Jay Hieron, Akihiro Gono, Dan Hornbuckle and Marius Zaromskis. Out of that group, the best Welterweight outside the UFC is Nick Diaz. While he was with the UFC, he struggled against UFC Welterweights. Since leaving, he's chalked up a lot of wins, but it certainly hasn't been over top competition. I don't think I'm really sold on Nick Diaz as the guy with the tools to dethrone George St Pierre.
George St Pierre is an incredibly dominant champion. If there is an MMA fighter you could point to as an example of a perfect specimen, it would be George. He has great skills everywhere: Great striking, great wrestling, great Brazilian Jiu Jitzu, overwhelming strength, incredible work ethic and he’s constantly adapting and improving. It makes finding the right formula for beating him a daunting task indeed!
GSP is the best in the world. He seems unbeatable right now. But in order to remain the best in the world, you've got to continue to fight and beat the best in the world.