Tag Archives: GSP

MMA’S DIVISION OF DEATH

On December 13, 2013, Georges St. Pierre, the greatest UFC welterweight fighter decided to finally walk away from the sport he loved. This was coming after a very controversial win over Johny Hendricks, who punished the champion for five rounds back in UFC 167. Plenty, including myself, thought Hendricks had won but even if he lost the decision, he can settle for a moral victory having hurt the legend enough to force him into early retirement.

Whether you love GSP’s decision or hate it, I think you would agree he stepped out of the sport at the right time. GSP’s last four fights suggest he absorbed more punishment than his other fights combined (240 strikes absorbed, over 50% of his total strikes absorbed). Hendricks, Condit, Diaz and Shields (all on this list) pounded him more than the dozen who came before.

GSP made the sane proper choice to quit now while he’s ahead because as I would outline, here’s the next 15 guys who have struck me as not only contenders but entertaining and violent brawlers and grapplers. Welcome to the new Welterweight Division. A division filled with knockouts and submissions and wars… THE DIVISION OF DEATH.

BIGG RIGG
Johny Hendricks (15-2, 10-2 UFC)

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Knockouts: 8
Submissions: 1
UFC Rank: #1

The aforementioned Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks is fighting for the title in UFC 170 in his hometown of Dallas, Texas. Big Rig is notorious for arguably the most powerful leftie in MMA today, which floored two former title contenders within seconds. Big Rig isn’t only one of the strongest strikers but is a huge NCAA Division I wrestler. With GSP gone, he’s the favourite to take over the division. He’s the to-be-crowned Alpha Dog in the making.

THE NATURAL BORN KILLER
Carlos Condit (29-7, 6-3 UFC)

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Knockouts: 14
Submissions: 13
UFC Rank: #2

Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit isn’t far behind Big Rig as a favourite to win the division. NBK once engaged Hendricks in a Fight of the Year caliber brawl that saw him lose a razor thin decision. But the Killer out-struck Hendricks (number) and also floored GSP and was a few punches away from winning his belt. Condit may not have GSP or Hendricks’s wrestling pedigree but he is arguably the division’s best striker.

RUTHLESS
Robbie Lawler (22-9, 7-3 UFC)

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Knockouts: 18
Submissions: 1
UFC Rank: #3

Ruthless Robbie Lawler is easily 2013’s Comeback Fighter of the Year. On his second go-round with the UFC, he went on to knock out long-time gatekeeper Josh Koscheck, Strikeforce tough guy, Bobby Voelker and put a beating on a contender and GSP teammate, Rory “Ares” Macdonald. He’ll be facing Bigg Rigg for the championship soon. Lawler has always been a deadly striker but his improvement in takedown defense, precision and game planning has made him reach a new elite level.

EL DIABLO
Nick Diaz (26-9, 7-7 UFC)

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Knockouts: 13
Submissions: 8
UFC Rank: n/a

Although he remains “retired”, whenever “El Diablo” Nick Diaz decides to return to the octagon, he will be an immediate championship threat. The division’s best boxer and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert has fought the best and was both a Strikeforce and WEC Welterweight Champion. His colourful nature makes him a polarizing figure but he’ll earn fans’ and haters’ respect alike with his artistic display of boxing destruction whenever he steps in the octagon.

ARES
Rory Macdonald (15-2, 6-2 UFC)

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Knockouts: 6
Submissions: 6
UFC Rank: #4

With GSP retired, Rory “Ares” Macdonald now stands as Tristar Gym’s and Canada’s top fighter. Growing tired of his old name, Macdonald gave himself his own nickname although his tentative fighting style has led to much criticism. Regardless, Ares has all the tools to be a champion – size, topnotch grappling skills and toughness. He recently lost to Ruthless but he’s only one big win away from  being back in the title picture.

THE JUGGERNAUT
Jake Ellenberger (29-7, 8-3 UFC)

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Knockouts: 18
Submissions: 5
UFC Rank: #5

The Juggernaut has been injured as of late and always seems to be overshadowed by the top fighters but he didn’t earn his moniker as an X-Men fan. Juggernaut is a powerful force and has won the majority of his UFC fights by way of knockout. He’s a wrestler by nature but prefers to stand and bang and even the toughest fighters should be weary to go toe-to-toe with The Juggernaut.

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Knockouts: 3
Submissions: 10
UFC Rank: #7

While not as physically imposing or powerful as some of the fighters here, Shields was once the Strikeforce Middleweight Champion and was undefeated for six years. His lack of striking power shouldn’t undersell his prowess as he’s undefeated at welterweight and has wins over four fighters on this list (Condit, Lawler, Woodley, Maia). Shields flies under the radar but he can beat the best at any moment’s notice. PS I gave him the nickname. 😉

THE SUBMISSION DEMON
Demian Maia (18-5, 12-5 UFC)

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Knockouts: 3
Submissions: 9
UFC Rank: #6

I made up his nickname but “Submission Demon” seems apt for the man who’s submitted Chael Sonnen and Rick Story – the latter’s first time being finished. Maia is a large welterweight having fought the best at middleweight before moving down and going on an unbeaten streak before a paper-thin decision loss to Jake Shields. He’s probably the best BJJ grappler in the division.

THE CHOSEN ONE
Tyron Woodley (12-2, 2-1 UFC)

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Knockouts: 3
Submissions: 5
UFC Rank: #11

Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley is on the fast track to winning the welterweight title as he’ll be going against The Natural Born Killer later this year. A wrestler who combines power with speed and athleticism, he’s a force who despite having only fought since 2009 has already beaten some of the big names in the division including Paul Daley, Josh Koscheck and former champion, Tarec Saffiedine.

LIGHTNING
Hector Lombard (33-4-1-1, 2-2 UFC)

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Knockouts: 19
Submissions: 7
UFC Rank: #13

The Cuban version of Hulk aka Hector “Lightning” Lombard finally made the cut to welterweight and it has paid massive (pun intended) dividends in a first-round demolition of former title contender, Nate Marquardt. Lombard’s imposing muscular frame paired with his Judoka expertise and killer power has led him to win 33 of his 39 official fights with majority of those wins coming by knockout.

SPONGE
Tarec Saffiedine (15-3, 1-0 UFC)

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Knockouts: 1
Submissions: 5
UFC Rank: #9

Former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Tarec “Sponge” Saffiedine finally made his much-anticipated debut in a five-round victory over Korean standout, Lim Gyun-Hyu. He didn’t finish Lim but dominated the much larger Korean and kicked his legs to oblivion. Saffiedine is one of the more polished and technical fighters in the division. He won’t have many highlight reel knockouts but he’s as much a contender as most of the ones on this list.

THE IMMORTAL
Matt Brown (18-11, 11-5 UFC)

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Knockouts: 11
Submissions: 5
UFC Rank: #8

Before training in MMA, Matt Brown survived a heroin overdose thus prompting his nickname. He would then dedicate himself to martial arts and make his way to the UFC, where he would again survive a life-altering event, losing three in a row and 4 of 5 matches. That usually spells death sentence for most fighters but not the Immortal. Now a winner of six straight, with five of those coming by KO, the Immortal is in prime position to challenge the best in the division.

HORROR STORY
Rick Story (16-7, 9-5 UFC)

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Knockouts: 4
Submissions: 3
UFC Rank: #15

Once upon a time, Rick “Horror” Story was on his way to a title shot with huge wins over former title challenger Thiago “Pitbull” Alves and even Johny Hendricks. Then an upset loss to Charlie Brenneman and he never seemed to get back in rhythm having a spotty record since. But his most recent domination of Brian Ebersole, a result of training with Tristar has the wrestling standout back in the game. A rejuvenated Horror Story could spell terror for the rest of the division.

THE ACE
Lim Hyun-Gyu (12-4, 2-1 UFC)

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Knockouts: 9
Submissions: 2
UFC Rank: n/a

Too early? The Korean standout is relatively new to the UFC but already has two Fight of the Night awards along with two big knockouts. He most recently took Saffiedine to a five-round war that nearly saw him upset the former champion despite having his legs all-but kicked off. Lim is unranked in the division but with more polish, he’s sure to shoot up the rankings.

RUKUS
Brandon Thatch
(11-1 2-0 UFC)

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Knockouts: 8
Submissions: 3
UFC Rank: n/a

Brandon “Rukus” Thatch may be a relative unknown to the casual UFC fanbase but he shouldn’t be for long. Though just having two UFC fights, he’s won both by stoppages. He’s the first to KO Justin “Fast Eddie” Edwards  and just the 2nd to finish Paulo Thiago. Get this: 100% of the Karate master’s victories have all come by round 1 stoppage. Rukus is still new and thus unranked within the UFC but will look to keep his killer ways through 2014.

Watch for these other Killers:

Kim “Stun Gun” Dong-Hyun, Ryan LaFlare, Kelvin Gastelum, John “The Hitman” Hathaway, Mike “Quicksand” Pyle, Erick “Indio” Silva

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14 EXPECTATIONS FOR THE MMA WORLD IN 2014

14. UFC and MMA in general will “struggle” with TV ratings and PPV buys continue to decline or holding steady

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The loss of the two biggest stars in the MMA world in Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva coupled with injuries to other stars (Cain Velasquez, Anthony Pettis) and the increasing number of UFC events could mean even more oversaturation of MMA.   

13. All current UFC Champions will retain their titles in 2014

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Ronda Rousey is indomitable. Jon “Bones” Jones will reign supreme. Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson only keeps getting better. And Chris Weidman is only going to build on his back-to-back mauling of Anderson Silva. I don’t see any current UFC champions dropping their belts in 2014.

12. Jessica Penne and Michelle Waterson wage war in a rematch for the Invicta Atomweight Title with Penne regaining the title in what will be the best women’s fight outside the UFC

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The Penne and Waterson title fight early in 2013 was an underrated classic. When the two meet again in the inevitable rematch, they’ll put on another classic that will have talking heads look to recognized female atomweights for the UFC.

11. Ben Askren dominates One FC going undefeated in 2014 and finishing all opponents and strengthens his status as the “Best Fighter outside the UFC”

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He almost contemplated retirement after briefly being unemployed but the wrestling star is back. Askren will take advantage of the relatively unknown division and dominate every opponent he faces until One FC can sign a higher-level talent.

10. B.J. Penn finally retires after suffering his fifth loss in seven games and third consecutive loss to Frankie Edgar

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B.J. Penn will make an emphatic return to the UFC scene on The Ultimate Fighter 19 and he’ll make more noise inside the octagon against Frankie “The Truth” Edgar. But it won’t be enough as he’ll lose a close decision to which he will then announce his retirement to the applause and admiration of millions.

9. UFC continues aggressive international expansion focusing on Asia: Mainland China and Southeast Asia particularly

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With the UFC’s debut in Singapore, the rest of Asia may soon follow. Events in the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Mainland China may happen. Outside Asia, Mexico’s a strong possibility.

8. Tecia Torres wins the The Ultimate Fighter 20 and the UFC’s Inaugural Women’s Strawweight Title narrowly defeating Barb Honchak in the Finals

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Carla Esparza and Joanne Calderwood seem like popular choices to win TUF 20 but I think it’s the “Tiny Tornado” Tecia Torres who’ll be winning it all despite being the smallest fighter making for one of the better underdog stories this year.

7. Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson becomes the UFC’s main breakout star

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Mighty Mouse was the only UFC champion to go 3-0 in 2013 and punctuated it with a huge knockout as an answer to critics of his stopping power. He’s looked better as he keeps fighting and the world will put the flyweights on the grid for good.

6. Michael Chandler recaptures Bellator Lightweight Title from Eddie Alvarez in conclusion to trilogy and main event to Bellator’s first PPV

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Chandler and Alvarez will go at it for the third time and will put on another amazing fight. Chandler will outlast his rival in a close decision to reclaim the belt as they headline Bellator’s first PPV.

5. GSP, Brock Lesnar and Nick Diaz do NOT return to the UFC or MMA

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They will make more buzz than most active fighters in 2014 thanks to social media and endless “rumour” talks but none of GSP, Brock Lesnar or Nick Diaz will be making a comeback to the octagon for this year.

4. No “Superfights”

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Talk of a Jose Aldo vs Anthony Pettis fight or the Anderson Silva vs Roy Jones fight will flood the Internet but neither will actually transpire. Aldo and Pettis have to defend their titles and are injury prone. Silva will return to action but against a fellow mixed martial artist, not a boxer.

3. Ronda Rousey defends belt three times in 2014 and talks of retirement resurface

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Rousey’s toughest test in 2014 is Sara McMann but after she overcomes her she’ll continue to dominate the division while having a part-time gig in Hollywood. The dreaded “R” word will come up again as many could say she doesn’t have anything left to prove.

2. Anderson Silva returns with a vengeance; finishes non-title opponent in emphatic fashion

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Anderson Silva will make his comeback of the year in the form of a huge knockout or submission. News of his demise would be greatly exaggerated as Spider will prove he’s still a force to be reckoned with.

1. Jon “Bones” Jones becomes the UFC’s P4P King and PPV King

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With GSP gone and Anderson Silva done for most of the year, it’ll be Jon “Bones” Jones who’ll headline the most top-selling UFC PPVs especially if and when that rematch with Alex Gustafsson transpires. He’ll also solidify his spot as the UFC’s #1 P4P king.