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Champion: George St. Pierre (24-2)
I’m getting a sneaking suspicion that GSP’s hold on the crown is weakening. It’s the same feeling I had about Anderson Silva ever since his historic battle with Chael at UFC 117 when he snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and rewarded his backers in their UFC picks by locking in a triangle choke in the waning moments of the fight. GSP appeared downright relieved that he got the nod from the judges in his last trip into the Octagon against Nick Diaz.
GSP has not stopped anyone in well over four years, instead going the distance in six consecutive contests and walking away with unanimous decisions in each fight. The fans want a destroyer, not a chess master and that day may be coming soon. Let’s take a look at some of the top gunslingers at 170lb.
Johny Hendricks (15-1)
Hendricks is the next guy in line for GSP, or should I say GSP is the next guy in line for Johny Hendricks. Hendricks is that guy with the knockout power that has been absent from the current champion.
He scored a unanimous decision over the always dangerous Carlos Condit and before that destroyed Martin Kampmann, one of the top welterweights in the world, in the first round at UFC 154. On November 16th at UFC 167, he may very well be the guy that beat the guy.
Carlos Condit (29-7)
If they gave out style points, Condit would be on everybody’s pound-for-pound list but sadly, for the Natural Born Killer they don’t. Condit has an extraordinary ability to make his lethal kicks look positively poetic. But he’s had his crack at the belt and got outpointed by GSP at UFC 154 and then again came up short in a decision to top contender Johny Hendricks. However he is still in the championship conversation due to his KO of Martin Kampmann a few weeks ago that earned him Fight of the Night honors. Don’t count Condit out in your sports picks.
Rory MacDonald (15-1)
At 24 years of age, MacDonald may very well be the future of the welterweight division. His only loss was to Carlos Condit three years ago but since that painful learning experience he has gone undefeated. It will be interesting to see how he fares against the truly best in the world as his most noteworthy wins have been over a faded BJ Penn and a tough, though not quite elite Jake Ellenberger in his last trip to the Octagon.
Nick Diaz (26-9)
I’m not a big fan of Nick Diaz, or his brother Nate for that matter, but I have an unmitigated respect for their ability. The Stockton Swag that the brothers Diaz bring into the Octagon is boorish and thuggish but they can certainly back up their words with murderous punching power and high level BJJ when the fight hits the mat.
Nick has now lost his last two consecutive matches to Carlos Condit and George St. Pierre in which he gave both fighters a run for their money. Of course, Diaz believes every decision which goes against him is some grand conspiracy but he’s got the chops to claim the belt if everything falls just right.
Demian Maia (18-4)
Maia is universally hailed as one of the greatest mat masters on the planet. He has a preternatural BJJ ground game but his striking is suspect. Maia has long toiled in the middleweight ranks but since dropping down to the welterweight class he has pocketed three consecutive victories over Dong Hyun Kim, Rick Story and Jon Fitch respectively.
His next test will come at UFC Fight Night 29 on October 9th when he will square off against former Strikeforce king Jake Shields. If he wins convincingly, look for a title shot in the near future.Share your thoughts on Ultimate Fighting on our MMA message board!