The UFC is by far the leading mixed martial arts organization in the world. With over 200 fighters contracted to parent company Zuffa, LLC, no other organization can rival the UFC in terms of depth.
In order to take a deeper look at just how much depth currently resides on the UFC roster, FiveOuncesOfPain.com will be taking a division-by-division look at each weight class in the UFC from top-to-bottom.
The primary purpose of these organizational rankings is to present UFC rosters broken down by division. Instead of just listing fighters in alphabetical order, I decided to create a highly subjective listing using a very unscientific formula that took into account the following:
1. Overall won/loss record
2. Won/loss record in the UFC
3. Quality of wins
4. Head-to-head victories against opponents ranked similarly
5. Total finishes (submission, KO, or TKO wins)
6. Amount of headlining appearances followed by televised appearances
7. Marketability (taking into account things such as TUF championships and “Fight Night” bonuses)
My goal was to try and create a list that might look something like what a matchmaker would use as a guide for putting together fights.
Last week we kicked off our mock organizational rankings with a look at the lightweight division. This week, we’re turning our attention to welterweight, which may not have as much depth as 155 pounds from a sheer numbers perspective, but has more depth from a quality standpoint.
Without further ado, our highly unofficial UFC Welterweight Organizational Rankings (records in parenthesis):
1. Georges St. Pierre (Overall Record: 18-2/UFC Record: 12-2) – With 12 career UFC wins and two welterweight title reigns, St. Pierre has already punched his ticket for the UFC Hall of Fame. Matt Hughes is widely recognized as the greatest UFC welterweight of all-time but with a few more big wins, that distinction will belong to GSP.
2. Thiago Alves (Overall Record: 16-3/UFC Record: 9-2) – Alves has strong wins in his UFC career over Hughes, Karo Parisyan, and Josh Koscheck. When you look at those head-to-head victories, it’s easy to put him here at number two. From a star power standpoint, he has become more recognizable in the last year and his dynamic athletic ability means he has the potential to become even bigger.
3. Jon Fitch (Overall Record: 18-3/UFC Record: 9-1) – Fitch’s body of work in the UFC cannot be questioned. Even in his only loss — against St. Pierre at UFC 87 — Fitch still managed to impress. Once labeled with the stigma of not possessing star qualities, Fitch got a superstar reaction during the UFC 94 weigh-ins. His one-day release this past November played a roll in that, as he was on the front page of every MMA-related web site and gained a lot of sympathy and respect. If getting released generated that much attention for Fitch, I wonder what a turn on TUF as a head coach would do for his career?
4. Josh Koscheck (Overall Record: 12-3/UFC Record: 10-3) – Head-to-head loss to Alves and GSP make him a clear cut number four on this list. The TUF 1 exposure makes him one of the UFC’s signature stars. In addition to his world class wrestling ability, his standup has made strides. His highlight reel knockout win over Yoshiyuki Yoshida this past December at “UFC Fight for the Troops” could help turn some of the boos he receives into cheers.
5. Matt Hughes (Overall Record: 42-7/UFC Record: 15-5) – Having competed in the UFC since 1999, Hughes is one of the UFC’s career leaders in victories. But what separates him from a lost of fighters is the quality of his victories. On his resume he has wins over B.J. Penn, Georges St. Pierre, Royce Gracie, and Sean Sherk. Also, wins over Carlos Newton, and Frank Trigg were big wins in the context of their time period. His career is winding down but whether you like him or not, his success in the UFC is undeniable.
6. Matt Serra (Overall Record: 9-5/UFC Record: 6-5) – His overall and UFC records really aren’t overly impressive. But Serra is a one-time UFC welterweight champion and is also the season four champion of TUF. His memorable turn on TUF 4 also has turned him into a fan favorite and one of the most recognizable fighters around. However, after not looking so great vs. St. Pierre at UFC 83, Serra will need to turn in a strong showing vs. Hughes when they meet later this year in order to remain a highly ranked fighter.
7. Mike Swick (Overall Record: 13-2/UFC Record: 8-1) – Swick looked liked a superstar in the making coming out of the first season of TUF. After getting out of the gates fast with a 4-0 record and three finishes, Swick was on the fast track to the top of the UFC food chain. However, a disappointing loss to Yushin Okami at UFC 69 coupled with myriad injuries have really hurt his stock. Fortunately, he is gaining back some momentum after going 3-0 since dropping to welterweight.
8. Dustin Hazelett (Overall Record: 12-4/UFC Record: 5-2) – He’s only 22 and has won a great deal of “Fight Night” bonuses. Despite being a jiu-jitsu based fighter, Hazelett has managed to emerge as an exciting fighter. All he needs is more exposure.
9. Karo Parisyan (Overall Record: 19-5/UFC Record: 9-3) – He’s an immensely talented fighter with a lot of charisma. However, out-of-the-cage issues and a recent positive test for pain killers really have put his career on the brink.
10. Anthony Johnson (Overall Record: 7-2/UFC Record: 4-2) – Johnson is still very inexperienced as a fighter but his dynamic athleticism has allowed him to emerge as a borderline star. His highlight reel knockouts have gained him a lot of traction but there is still much work to be done, as Johnson has the potential to some day emerge as number two on this list.
11. Marcus Davis (Overall Record: 16-4/UFC Record: 8-2) – The UFC has done a tremendous job in building Davis up. He doesn’t have the most impressive win list but the UFC has been him in situations where his strong boxing skills can be showcased. Davis may never truly contend for a title, but he’s a strong fighter to have on the roster for purposes of depth.
12. Carlos Condit (Overall Record: 22-4/UFC Record: 0-0) – Just outclassed his competition in the WEC and the move to the UFC was long overdue. Moving from VERSUS over to Spike TV will help do wonders for his career. The question is: how will he respond to the upgrade in competition?
13. Martin Kampmann (Overall Record: 14-2/UFC Record: 5-1) – Is a perfect fit for the middleweight division with the potential to grow. Has impressed people with his jiu-jitsu but from a technical standpoint, there might not be very many strikers at 170 pounds better than Kampmann.
14. Dong Hyun Kim (Overall Record: 11-1-1/UFC Record: 2-1) – Suffered his first career loss at UFC 94. Aside from having a boring fight vs. Parisyan, Kim really didn’t hurt himself because he didn’t get dominated and some people event felt he fought well enough to win. The biggest thing Kim has going for him is that his Korean heritage makes him a potential major draw in South Korea, a market that the UFC really wants to develop. To be able to have such a credible fighter with his background is a huge asset to the UFC.
15. Yoshiyuki Yoshida (Overall Record: 10-3/UFC Record: 1-1) – Wins outside of the UFC against Akira Kikuchi and Dan Hardy have really earned him a lot of credibility with hardcore fans. However, his disappointing showing at “UFC Fight for the Troops” against Koscheck really hurt his stock.
16. Brock Larson (Overall Record: 24-2/UFC Record: 1-0) – He is really a wildcard. Larson’s tremendous strength, aggressive style, and outstanding wrestling ability could make him a surprise contender in the UFC.
17. Dan Hardy (Overall Record: 20-6/UFC Record: 1-0) – Hardy is an exciting fighter with plenty of charisma. The UFC has several U.K. fighters on its roster but only one true star in Michael Bisping. However, Hardy gives the UFC a real chance at developing a second major British draw.
18. Ben Saunders (Overall Record: 7-0-2/UFC Record: 3-0) – Really changed the way people thought of him following his destruction of Brandon Wolff at “UFC Fight for the Troops” in December. With his height in the welterweight division, he has a chance to record some big wins and move up in the rankings this year. He just needs to stay healthy and consistently fight on TV in order to reach his full potential.
19. Matt Brown (Overall Record: 8-7/UFC Record: 2-1) – Brown is a victim of the fact that he was willing to fight anyone, anytime, at any place before he got to the UFC. He took a lot of bad matchups and if he had been built up properly, he easily could have walked into the UFC with an unblemished record. However, that’s just not who Matt Brown is and that aspect of his character was accurately portrayed to millions of fans during TUF 7. For such a soft spoken guy, the producers and editors of TUF 7 did an amazing job of building his character. I really thought someone like him would be overlooked for years but he’s living proof of just how powerful a marketing tool that TUF can be. A well-rounded fighter who always comes prepared, Brown should have home in the UFC for a long time to come.
20. Chris Wilson (Overall Record: 14-5/UFC Record: 1-2) – Doesn’t have the best record in the UFC right now but is just getting warmed up. The loss to John Howard at UFC 94 was a setback but his striking ability really makes him unique for the UFC welterweight division. Make sure you keep an eye on him.
21. Chris Lytle (Overall Record: 26-17-2/UFC Record: 6-9) – Really does not have a good record but his professional boxing background has allowed him to become a solid television fighter. Even though he had a great fight vs. Davis at UFC 93, the recent release of Rich Clementi sends the message that Lytle needs to start putting together more wins in order to stick.
22. Rory Markham (Overall Record: 16-4/UFC Record: 1-0) – Was plagued by inconsitency in the IFL but really benfitted from the exposure. With good looks and heavy hands, he has the potential to become a highly-recognizable fighter in the UFC. His highlight reel knockout at UFN 14 was really a great way to introduce him to a new fanbase. The question is: is Markham well-rounded enough to consistently win and remain in the UFC? Only time will tell.
23. John Howard (Overall Record: 11-4/UFC Record: 1-0) – Really turned heads with his upset win over Wilson at UFC 94. A much better wrestler than previously thought. Howard is yet another strong fight prospect to come out of the overlooked Northeast region.
24. Brad Blackburn Overall Record: 13-9-1/UFC Record: 2-0) – Has a serious injury that could sideline him for an extended period of time. Which is a shame, because he’s gotten out of the gate fast in the start to his UFC career.
25. Ryo Chonan (Overall Record: 15-9/UFC Record: 1-2) – He really hasn’t impressed in the UFC and it remains to be seen if he’s long for the promotion.
26. Johny Hendricks (Overall Record: 4-0/UFC Record: 0-0) – Still technically on the WEC roster and has one more fight in the promotion this March against Alex Serdyukov. A former NCAA champion, it’s almost a guarantee that he will be transferred over. One aspect that has been overlooked is his charisma. He really caused quite a stir on the NCAA wrestling circuit. It’s a shame the Zuffa couldn’t have gotten him a spot on the upcoming season of TUF 9 as a member of the U.S. team. Reality TV would play well to his personality.
27. Danillo Villefort (Overall Record: 9-2/UFC Record: 0-0) – The American Top Team black belt will officially move from the WEC to the UFC. I saw him up close several years back at the IFL Draft tryouts in New York and was blown away. A great athlete, Villefort only needs to improve his standup game and he’ll emerge as a huge threat. His jiu jitsu off his back is sick.
28. Akihiro Gono (Overall Record: 29-14-7/UFC Record: 1-2) – Walking out at UFC 94 in a silver dress might have saved his roster spot because he has looked pretty unimpressive since arriving in the UFC.
29. Tamdan McCrory (Overall Record: 10-2/UFC Record: 2-2) – Still very young and is freakishly tall for the UFC. He’s a true prospect and just needs to win consistently and he will skyrocket up this list.
30. Matt Riddle (Overall Record: 2-0/UFC Record: 2-0) – Hasn’t fought a lot due to injuries but still has a lot of upside. Gained a lot of exposure on TUF 7 and his wrestling base makes him a threat.
31. Paulo Thiago (Overall Record: 10-0/UFC Record: 0-0) – Reports have suggested that he’s on a one-fight contract. We’ll know if he’s able to hang around by how well he performs vs. Koscheck at UFC 95.
32. Alexandre Barros (Overall Record: 13-6/ UFC Record: 0-1) – Didn’t look great vs. Kampmann at UFC 93 but still a credible fighter to have on the roster.
33. Pete Sell (Overall Record: 8-4/UFC Record: 2-4) – Doesn’t have a lot of job security but his heavy hands have allowed him to earn a reputation as being an exciting fighter. He’s getting a big opportunity at UFC 96 against Brown since the fight has been selected to open the PPV telecast. With the UFC moving welterweights over from the WEC to the UFC, an exciting fight might not be enough to save Sell. UFC 96 is a must-win situation for the native New Yorker.
34. Kevin Burns (Overall Record: 7-2/UFC Record: 2-1) – Really generated some attention after he subbed Roan Carneiro off his back at UFC 85. It was unique because Burns was a blue belt and Carneiro is a black belt. His first fight vs. Anthony Johnson also created a lot of buzz due to the controversial ending. If nothing else, a lot of people know who the hell Kevin Burns is and that’s saying something in a crowded UFC welterweight division.
35. Paul Kelly (Overall Record: 7-1/UFC Record: 1-1) – The UFC really needs to develop big draws in the UFC and Kelly gives them that potential. Training out of Wolfslair Academy with Michael Bisping, Kelly turned a lot of heads in winning “Fight of the Night” honors with Paul Taylor at UFC 80.
36. Luke Cummo (Overall Record: 6-6/UFC Record: 3-4) – A few losses and a recent arrest might overshadow all the notoriety he gained while a member of the TUF 2 cast.
37. John Hathaway (Overall Record: 10-0/UFC Record: 1-0) – Was a true revelation at UFC 93 in defeating Tom Egan. The UFC is reportedly very high on the 21-year old.
38. Jonathan Goulet (Overall Record: 22-10/UFC Record: 4-4) – Has made several UFN appearances but the problem is that he’s suffered some pretty bad knockouts in featured fights. Is still on the roster because he was offered a slot on the UFC 97 card but couldn’t accept due to injury. With more and more Canadian fighters rising through the ranks, his job security isn’t what it once was.
39. Paul Taylor (Overall Record: 9-4-1/UFC Record: 2-3) – Has several UFC fights to his credit and has become a mainstay on the U.K. cards. Currently sidelined with an injury, Taylor could have to fight to keep his roster spot when he comes back because the UFC will have a new crop of British stars to develop coming out of TUF 9.
40. Troy Mandaloniz (Overall Record: 3-1/UFC Record: 1-0) – Heavy hitter who has fought just once in the last two years. If he loses at UFC 95, he’ll likely get cut.
41. Rick Story (Overall Record: 7-2/UFC Record: 0-0) – Recent UFC signee who has yet to be scheduled for his first fight. A solid regional prospect but Derek Downey showed us at UFN 17 that sometimes you only get one shot to prove yourself in the Octagon.
42. T.J. Grant (Overall Record: 13-2/UFC Record: 0-0) – Solid Canadian prospect. Will make debut at UFC 97.
43. Steve Bruno (Overall Record: 12-5/UFC Record: 1-2) – Has great jiu-jitsu, an amazing back story, and good looks. But he doesn’t have great standup and his fights really haven’t been all that exciting. If he gets another shot coming off a loss at UFN 17, he’s going to have to make sure he wins in order to remain on the roster.
44. Dan Cramer (Overall Record: 1-0/UFC Record: 1-0) – May have won vs. Matt Arroyo at UFC 94 but still looked rather green. Having your first pro fights at the UFC level isn’t an ideal way to develop as a fighter.
45. Brandon Wolff (Overall Record: 7-3/UFC Record: 0-1) – Tough fighter who is hurt by the fact that the UFC has no immediate plans to hold shows in Hawaii.
46. Tom Egan (Overall Record: 3-1/UFC Record: 0-1) – He looked really green vs. Hathaway at UFC 93. Only 20, he might not be ready for the UFC but will still be given a shot to stick because the UFC really wants to cultivate an Irish star.