There hasn’t been a shortage of talk surrounding the welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre following his controversial split decision victory against title contender Johny Hendricks at UFC 167. But if the fight hasn’t roused enough discussion, the plethora of rumors regarding his supposed retirement definitely brings more.
If GSP were to retire today, we’d no doubt see Hendricks reaching for the first grab at the welterweight belt – a belt that is arguably his. But who does he face? The UFC rankings list Carlos Condit next in line. However, Hendricks recently defeated Condit by unanimous decision just this last March. While the bout was highly competitive, I don’t think many would be in favor in seeing a rematch so close to their initial bout – although personally, I think a rematch between the two is inevitable, just not right now.
Other than Condit, the only realistic contender would be Robbie Lawler. Since returning to the UFC, Lawler has picked up three wins, two of them against top-ten opponents, including his most recent decision against Rory MacDonald. I think a fight between Hendricks and Lawler could easily make its claim to be the fight to determine the next welterweight champion.
Whether fans want to acknowledge it or not, former Strikeforce champion Jake Shields has also been on quite the hot streak. While his last two bouts have resulted in victorious split decisions, both highly contested, the competition he’s faced has been nothing less than fierce. With Tyron Woodley’s latest rise in stock, it’s easy to forget Shields holds a very recent victory over him. In Shields’ most recent outing, he out-pointed top contender Demian Maia to secure his spot among the top portion of the UFC welterweights. It wouldn’t be too out-of-the-picture to see Shields compete for a spot among the top three or four fighters.
Without St. Pierre, it’s blatantly obvious that Hendricks would move into the number one spot, however, Saturday’s events really put some big twists on the division. This is how I see the top ten welterweights if GSP were to retire:
- Johny Hendricks
- Carlos Condit
- Robbie Lawler
- Rory MacDonald
- Jake Ellenberger
- Jake Shields
- Demian Maia
- Tyron Woodley
- Matt Brown
- Martin Kampmann