Influx of talent makes Welterweight the most entertaining division in the UFC

Dylan Leasure, Courier Staff

Over the years, the UFC has seen star fighters come in and out of the Octagon. It seems that each year, they gain another fighter who is ready to take the sport to the next level. There is no arguing that the UFC has the largest star-studded roster they have ever had in their 27 year existence. While some may prefer the golden years when Chuck Liddell fought rival Tito Ortiz or when Anderson Silva held the Middleweight Title for seven long years, today’s fighters offer a much more extensive and entertaining opportunity for the UFC. This leads to the biggest question surrounding this huge group of fighters, which division is the best? To narrow it down, I believe there really are only three arguments for this question: The Middleweight, Lightweight, and Welterweight divisions. Middleweight has recently seen a revival of excitement as the current champion Israel Adesanya has proven himself worthy of a star’s title. His title defense against Paulo Costa cemented him as one of the pound-for-pound top fighters in the world right now. What makes this division so interesting is that it might have the most competiton it has ever had, when it is normally one of the most stacked divisions in UFC history. We have seen champions like Anderson Silva and George St-Pierre absolutely dominate the Middleweight division in the past. Now, the torch has been handed to Adesanya to lead, but for how long? The former Middleweight champion Robert Whittaker won his bout against heavy-handed Jared Cannonier in October and kept his position as the number one contender. Costa currently sits at No. 2, and notable contenders are Yoel Romero at No. 5, Darren Till at No. 6, Derek Brunson at No. 7 and former champion Chris Weidman at No. 10. While this division has a ton of competition, I do not believe it is the best division in the UFC currently, solely because its champion, Adesanya, is moving to Light Heavyweight to try and grab his second title. This eliminates a lot of options for this division and puts it on a long hold. The Lightweight division, which would most likely be the most popular answer right now, has shined in recent years. With Khabib Nurmagomedov still holding his belt and possibly making one more return to the octagon, this division has become more and more interesting by the minute. No. 4 ranked Conor McGregor is slated to fight No. 2 Dustin Poirier in early 2021 to mark a long-awaited rematch. With the most recent title challenger Justin Gaethje still ranked No. 1, and the always feared Tony Ferguson sitting at No. 3, this division has a very scary roster of top contenders. Not only do these fighters alone make this division interesting enough, Michael Chandler, a former Bellator champion, has signed a contract with the UFC and is awaiting his debut soon. He has been heavily advertised by the UFC as the next big fighter in the Lightweight division and has a worthy resume to back it up. With this wild card being thrown into the mix, I believe most UFC fans would say that the Lightweight division is the best in the UFC. However, here’s why it’s not. With Khabib’s retirement being practically reversed according to UFC President Dana White, the Lightweight division has an undefeated champion sitting on top of five solid contenders. If Khabib were to officially retire, this division becomes much more interesting and your contenders are now fighting for a belt, not just for money. Khabib does not want to fight McGregor again, that is clear. Dana White has also repeatedly said that he has big plans for Khabib’s next fight, which most likely alludes to the former Champion and arguable “greatest of all time” St-Pierre. This puts the belt race in the Lightweight division on hold for now, and we have no clue what is going to happen next. This is where the Welterweight division shines. Current champion Kamaru Usman has defended his title several times and has proven himself to be the “Khabib” of his division. In an instant classic, Usman defended his belt against the brash wrestler, Colby Covington back in 2019 and defended it again against new superstar Jorge Masvidal earlier this year. In the Welterweight division, we have a dominant champion with arguably even more competition. Usman is slated to fight number two Gilbert Burns sometime in 2021, after it being pushed back from December of 2020. Now, we have a title fight coming next year, and an extensive roster with big names leading all the way to No. 15. Between Covington, Masvidal, Leon Edwards, Stephen Thomspon, former champion Tyron Woodley, Vicente Luque and big names sitting at the bottom like Nate Diaz, Anthony Pettis and former champion Robbie Lawler, the Welterweight division has always been the division to talk about. We just have decided to look away for a moment due to the drama in the Lightweight division. This is not even mentioning the new superstar of the UFC Khamzat Chimaev, who is currently unranked. Chimaev has completely dismantled his first three opponents and out struck them 87 strikes to 1. He has been hit once in three fights. He also fought his first two fights within two weeks of each other. While he hasn’t been brought to ranked competition yet, he has shown us several times now that he is not messing around with this division. Khamzat has come to do one thing, “Smesh.” While the Lightweight division may hold big names like McGregor and Nurmagomedov, the Welterweight division has proven time and time again that it is the most entertaining and competitive division in
the UFC.