The 411 MMA Top 10 11.19.12: Top 10 Welterweights
Posted by Alex Rella on 11.19.2012
From Nick Diaz, Georges St. Pierre and Matt Hughes to Sean Sherk, Jon Fitch and more, 411's Alex Rella counts down the top 10 welterweight fighters of all time!
Top Ten Welterweights
Hey there gentle readers, I am Alex Rella and this is the MMA Top Ten. This week we will be looking at the top ten welterweights of all time. But first,
Thoughts from last week and other random stuff:
• I did say this week would be GSP's top ten fights but I decided to delay it a week. I have a few days off next week so I'll have more time to sit and watch some of his fights.
• Last week's list was the ten bloodiest fights of all time. Not an easy task as there has been countless bloody fights since its inception. I admit I missed a few but here are some of your picks.
o Benavidez v. Torres: Robert Winfree summed it up nicely when he said it flowed out like a faucet.
o Taktarov v. Severn: I was a little mad at myself for forgetting about the Russian Bear.
o Sobral v. Heath: I chose not to highlight this as Sobral's actions were completely unacceptable.
o Also there were a few mentioned from TUF but I'm not gonna start ranking the unofficial fights from the show.
Back to this week's list
The welterweight division has always been my favorite to watch. I'm sure everybody knows who the top two fighters are but the rest of the list was pretty tight. There are some former champions from different organizations and number one contenders on here. Some of you are still upset about my top heavyweight list from months ago but I think this one is pretty solid. This week's list is based on each fighter's record, dominance, titles and significance during the time of their careers. Some personal opinion will be in there too.
• Chris Lytle- Lights Out Lytle never made a title run but he was always exciting and had wins over Dan Hardy, Matt Brown, Kazuo Misaki, and Matt Serra.
• Carlos Newton- He beat Pat Miletich for the title but didn't do much past that.
• Hayoto Sakurai- former UFC number one contender and had some great fights in Pride.
10: BJ Penn
BJ Penn shocked everybody when he upset Matt Hughes for the welterweight title at UFC 46 in his welterweight debut. That alone gets him a spot on the list but he hasn't done much else to get a higher spot than this. Penn dropped the title without defending it so he could take some fights in higher weight classes. Since then Penn has gone 1-4-1 at 170 pounds but two of those fights were for the title. Penn makes his return next month on Fox when takes on Rory MacDonald. I'm looking forward to this fight a lot.
Sean "The Muscle Shark" Sherk competed in the welterweight division from 1999-2006. Sherk went 32-2-1 over this stretch of his career. The only two people he lost to were Matt Hughes in a title fight at UFC 42 and to GSP at UFC 56. That's pretty impressive that he only lost to those two great champions in his welterweight career. Sherk left the welterweight division in 2006 when he won the UFC's lightweight title. Sherk said he wants to return to fighting early next year, maybe it will be at 170 pounds since he is getting older.
8: Matt Serra
Matt Serra spent most of the first portion of his career competing at lightweight but made the permanent to welterweight just before TUF season 4. Serra defeated Chris Lytle in the finals of the comeback season earning him a title shot against GSP. Serra pulled off one of the biggest upsets of all time when he defeated GSP for the title at UFC 69 winning by TKO. Due to a back injury, Serra would sit out a year until their rematch at UFC 83 which he lost. Serra finally had his fight with Matt Hughes at UFC 98 and lost by unanimous decision. Serra went 1-1 in his final two fights and now coaches full time. Every now and then he comes out says he wants a rematch with Hughes but I doubt it will happen.
7: Pat Miletich
Pat Miletich is kinda forgotten about these days but he was one of the top fighters in the UFC before Zuffa. Miletich won the UFC 16 lightweight tournament (170 lbs) and became the UFC's first welterweight champion at UFC Brazil (also known as UFC 17.5). In between this he had a catchweight fight with Dan Severn which I would like to see. Miletich defended his title four times before losing to Carlos Newton at UFC 31. But while he was champ, Miletich was still fighting in other companies and not always having the same success. He attempted to move to middleweight after his protégé Matt Hughes won the title but this was unsuccessful. Milietich took a few years off to heal up and coach full time. He fought twice more in 2006 and 2008 going 1-1.
6: Nick Diaz
I'm not a fan of the Diaz brothers but I've been watching some Nick Diaz fights lately and he really is talented. The former WEC and Strikeforce welterweight champion started competing at 18 years old in 2001. It wasn't long until he was competing in the UFC, WEC, Pride and EliteXC but he reached the peak of his career in Strikeforce. After some catchweight fights in the company, Diaz won their welterweight title and defended it three times before leaving for the UFC. He then wrecked BJ Penn in his return fight before losing to Condit for the interim title at UFC 143. He was suspended a year for marijuana after the fight but he'll be back in February and will likely earn another title shot soon enough. I know a lot of people will argue that he should be ranked higher but I think the next couple fighters have a slight edge on him.
5: Josh Koscheck
Josh Koscheck has been one of the top welterweights for years and nobody has fought more in the UFC since his debut in 2005. Kos competed in the first season of TUF at middleweight but dropped down soon after. The former number one contender has defeated top fighters such as Frank Trigg, Chris Lytle, Matt Hughes, Diego Sanchez and Anthony Johnson. It's very possible the best days of his career are over but I think he'll be a top welterweight for a few more years. There have been rumors of a fight with Nick Diaz which I think would be awesome so I really hope it happens.
4: Carlos Condit
Carlos Condit was the hardest for me to place this week. This may be a little high but eh it's not a perfect system. The Natural Born Killer just lost to GSP (almost everyone on this list has) but he's still number two in the division. It could be argued that Condit looks like an even better fighter after this loss because he stuck in there and really pushed GSP at times. Condit started competing in 2002 and won the WEC welterweight title in 2007. Condit defended the title three times before the UFC absorbed the division. Condit lost a questionable split decision to Martin Kampmann in his debut but then won his next five fights which include winning the interim title against Nick Diaz at UFC 143. It'll be interesting to see where he goes from here but I expect another run at the title.
3: Jon Fitch
I never thought Jon Fitch was as boring as everybody always made him out to be and he's earned his spot this high on the list. Fitch is definitely the best welterweight to never win the title and leads the UFC with most decision victories and most strikes landed. I didn't know that last stat until I started writing this column. Fitch had one of the best streaks ever when he won 16 straight fights from 2003 to 2008 that earned him a shot against GSP for the title. After losing to GSP at UFC 87, Fitch won his next five fights. Things weren't looking too good with a draw to BJ Penn and a quick knockout to Johny Hendricks. But he just had an awesome victory over Erick Silva at UFC 153 and he has a big fight with Maia coming up at UFC 156. A win would mean he's still at the top of the division but of course the loss would kill title hopes for good.
My all time favorite fighter gets the second spot on this week's list. Matt Hughes is a two time UFC welterweight champion and was a pioneer in the early Zuffa days. Matt Hughes started competing in 1998 after graduating college. Soon after he joined Miletich Fighting Systems and gained immediate success. Hughes debuted in the UFC in 1999 at UFC 22 but was released at UFC 29 after his second loss to Dennis Hallman. Hughes would force his way back when he returned at UFC 34 to defeat Carlos Newton for the welterweight title. Hughes defended his title five times before BJ Penn upset him at UFC 46. Hughes gained the title back at UFC 50 when he was the first person to defeat GSP. Hughes' second title reign was almost as good as his first as he had the great rematch with Trigg, wrecked Royce Gracie and avenged his loss to BJ Penn. Unfortunately for Hughes, GSP passed him by when they met a second time at UFC 65 and the third time at UFC 79. Hughes went 3-3 in his last six fights but he got knocked out in the last two. Hughes has defeated seven champions in his career as well, I wonder who has the record for that. It came out recently that he's pretty much retired which is understandable but it would have been nice to see him end his career on a win.
Surprise, he got the top spot on this week's list. GSP finally returned this weekend and he defeated Carlos Condit. This was easily one of his best fights. The two time and current welterweight champion has been with the UFC since 2004 and has defeated all of the top welterweights of the past ten years. Most of the fighters on this list have lost to him. He defeated Matt Hughes for his first title at UFC 65 but lost to Matt Serra at 69. GSP beat Hughes in their rubber match for the interim title and later Serra to regain the title. GSP has since defended his title seven straight times and is a future hall of famer. I would guess that his next fight is with Anderson Silva but it would be understandable if he took the fight with Hendricks instead. Don't expect an announcement for a couple weeks. Either way it was cool to see him back this weekend.
• So let me know how you guys would rank them or maybe I left a fighter out that you thought should be in the top 10.
• As always, let me know if there are any topics or fighters you would like to see ranked in the future.
• Next week will be GSP's top ten fights.