Who Next In The UFC Welterweight Division?

UFC 214 is just around the corner where Tyron Woodley will defend his UFC welterweight title against Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist Demian Maia.

Since winning the title at UFC 201, Woodley has defended the belt twice against Stephen Thompson – picking up a decision win at UFC 209 after their draw at UFC 205.

Maia will finally get his shot at the title after being standing at the front of the line for a long time.

His win over Jorge Masvidal meant the UFC could not deny him a title fight any longer.

It promises to be a hugely promising contest between two of the best 170-pound fighters the UFC has ever seen.

As for who is next after UFC 214, there is not a clear number one contender in the welterweight division.

We take a look at who could face the winner of Woodley vs. Maia…

GEORGES ST-PIERRE

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UFC legend Georges St-Pierre announced his comeback to the octagon earlier this year and was expected to face Michael Bisping for the middleweight title; the UFC even held a press conference for the fight.

However, GSP’s refused to return to action over the summer meaning UFC president, Dana White, lost patience and instead booked an interim middleweight title fight which Robert Whittaker won to earn his shot at Bisping.

White claimed he expected GSP to fight the holder of the welterweight belt when he returned, with reports suggesting he could headline the November card at Madison Square Garden.

Despite his claims, St-Pierre has made no official word on his desire to fight at 170 meaning a fight with Bisping could still be on the cards.

Nevertheless, welterweight is GSP’s true division and a division he dominated during his illustrious career.

A bout with Woodley seems to be the most likely option for ‘Rush.’

CONOR MCGREGOR

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No-one knows what will happen after August 26th when Conor McGregor will face Floyd Mayweather in what is being tipped as the biggest event in combat sports history.

The Irishman could take home over $100m in the historic fight which has cast doubt over whether he would return to the sport of MMA.

White believes McGregor will return to the UFC and is looking to fight around December – which could be the perfect time to fight for the welterweight championship.

He has an extensive list of contenders in the lightweight division, all looking for a shot at his title with the likes of Tony Ferguson, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Edson Barboza and Justin Gaethje all in the title picture.

However, McGregor has flirted with the idea of winning UFC gold in three different weight classes before and is unlikely to be denied a shot if he asks for it.

He has fought at welterweight twice against Nate Diaz, losing via submission on short notice in the first fight before taking a majority decision win in the rematch.

Woodley has also called for a big money fight and is open to the idea of fighting the former featherweight champion.

Defending his belt at lightweight is the most likely option for the Notorious one but don’t rule out an attempt to become a three division world champion if he returns to the octagon.

ROBBIE LAWLER

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Also featuring on UFC 214 is a highly anticipated bout between Robbie Lawler and Donald Cerrone which was originally slated for UFC 213.

Lawler fights for the first time since losing the belt to Woodley in 2016 at UFC 201 where he was knocked out in round one.

Before losing to Woodley, Lawler defended the belt in two wars against Rory MacDonald and Carlos Condit which should earn him another crack at the gold should he defeat Cerrone.

‘Cowboy’ was considered to be a contender in the welterweight division after amassing a four fight win streak after making a move up in weight, but he was viciously knocked out by Masvidal in his last outing.

If Cerrone manages to beat Lawler, he is probably another win away from a shot at the title with his loss to Masvidal still fresh in mind.

NICK DIAZ

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Nick Diaz is one of the most popular fighters in UFC history and fans still have a glimmer of hope that the Stockton native will return to the octagon again.

He has not fought since UFC 183 but remains in the USADA program; he is currently facing a suspension for failing to disclose his whereabouts on three occasions.

Woodley has mentioned in the past that he would love to fight Diaz for the belt as he remains one of the biggest draws in the company.

White admitted that he doesn’t expect Diaz to fight in the UFC again.

Diaz has the lost the desire to fight, but a return for a title shot and a big payday could be too hard to resist.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

JORGE MASVIDAL

Masvidal was one fight away from a title shot after knocking out Jake Ellenberger and Cerrone but fell short against Maia – losing via split decision. It was a close fight against the Brazilian, but ultimately the loss remains on his record. He probably needs to get back to winning ways to earn a shot at the belt.

SANTIAGO PONZINIBBIO

Currently riding a five fight win streak, Santiago Ponzinibbio has quickly emerged as a contender in the welterweight division. He has three knockouts in his last five wins including a controversial stoppage of Gunnar Nelson. Again, he is probably a few wins away from the title picture but remains in the mix.

STEPHEN THOMPSON

Without a win in his last two fights, both against Woodley, Thompson needs Maia to have his hand raised to be in with a shout for the next title shot. No one wants to see a third fight with the ‘Chosen One’ so he needs Maia to be victorious. However, he needs a win to get back on track, and a bout with Masvidal should be his next move.

Who would you like to see fight for the welterweight belt next? Comment below!

Follow me on Twitter – @MarcusBanks7 – Visit my blog The Beautiful Game for more

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Posted in: MMA

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