Is there even a debate about this order of rankings in the UFC? We were toying with the idea of calling this item “GSP” and nine other UFC fighters, such is the grandeur of the Canadian’s reign inside the Octagon. Few can argue that St-Pierre has done more for the sport than any other athlete alive or dead. He will always be the top dog.
So who else makes the list of UFC best welterweights in history? A few names of old and a stable of the current crop which indicates that the 170 lbs weight class has and still is full of talent. Sadly there was no space for neither of the Diaz Brothers or even Josh Koscheck who all earned kudos in this division during their pro careers. Starting with the GOAT, here’s our top 10 list. Do you agree with the entries?
1. Georges “Rush” St Pierre
There is no welterweight fighter in UFC history – or the history of MMA as a whole – who comes even close to having the greatness and achievements of Georges St-Pierre. The Canadian showed constant improvement throughout his MMA career, which contributed to him becoming one of the most well-rounded and versatile mixed martial artists of all time.
His first challenge of the UFC Welterweight title came at just 23 years of age in a losing effort against Matt Hughes. GSP won the belt from Hughes in a rematch at UFC 65, which he lost in his first defence against Matt Serra.
GSP won the belt back from Serra in 2008 and successfully defended it nine – that’s right, nine – times before vacating the belt in 2013. He returned to the UFC in 2017 as a Middleweight and defeated Michael Bisping to win the middleweight title.
2. Matt Hughes
Matt Hughes was the first ever true legend of the welterweight division, having gained respect from fans and fighters alike for his grit and ‘farm boy’ toughness. Hughes was already a 32 fight veteran (29-3) by the time he fought and beat Carlos Newton for the UFC Welterweight Championship at UFC 34.
He defended the belt five times – winning all but one of those via finish – before he lost it to BJ Penn at UFC 46. However, Hughes won the title again just 10 months later and held it for another two years before losing it to Georges St-Pierre. Hughes retired in 2011 with a more-than- respectable record of 45 wins and 9 losses.
3. Jon Fitch
Regardless of what one thinks of Jon Fitch’s wrestling-centric, slow-paced style, the American may very well be the best welterweight in UFC history to not win the welterweight belt. Fitch won his first eight fights in the Octagon, which included wins over Diego Sanchez and Thiago Alves, before being given a shot at Georges St-Pierre for the Welterweight title.
Fitch lost a one-sided decision to GSP, and went 6-2- 1 in the UFC after the fight, which took his UFC record to an impressive 14-3- 1. He later fought in the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) and became the welterweight champion of that organisation.
4. Sean “Muscle Shark” Sherk
One of the pioneers of MMA’s lighter weight divisions, Sean Sherk was one of the best welterweights of his time despite being smaller than the majority of his competitors. Sherk went undefeated in his first 19 fights (three of those in the UFC) before he unsuccessfully challenged Matt Hughes for the UFC Welterweight Championship.
He went on a 12-fight streak outside of the UFC before returning to the Octagon in 2005, where he moved down to lightweight and won the championship in that weight class. Sherk officially announced his MMA retirement in 2013.
5. “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler
At a quick glance, Robbie Lawler’s MMA record may not be reflective of a fighter who is the ‘best ever’ at anything. However, ‘Ruthless’ evolved throughout his career to become one of the most dominant UFC welterweights in the immediate post-George St-Pierre era.
He had he a solid career as a welterweight and middleweight in the UFC, Strikeforce and Elite XC, but was constantly hampering by the lack of a high level grappling game. That all changed when he returned to the UFC in 2013, however, as he went 5-1 in the Octagon before beating Johny Hendricks to win the UFC Welterweight title.
6. Tyron “T-Wood” Woodley
A standout college wrestler, Tyron Woodley was often viewed negatively by fans during his early MMA career due to what they largely perceived as an unimaginative, wrestling-based style. Woodley changed this when he joined the UFC in 2013, however, winning his first four fights in the UFC by TKO/KO.
He shocked many pundits when he finished durable champion Robbie Lawler in just 2:12 to capture the UFC Welterweight Championship, which he has successfully defended against Stephen Thomson and Demian Maia.
7. Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson
Stephen Thompson was a heavily hyped and accomplished karate fighter before embarking on an MMA career. He made his UFC debut at UFC 143 after amassing a 5-0 professional record on the regional US MMA circuit.
Thompson made an almost immediate impact in the Octagon, having gone 8-1 – including wins over Rory MacDonald, Johny Hendricks and Robert Whittaker – before being given a title shot against Tyron Woodley. He gave Woodley his toughest title challenge, fighting to a draw before narrowly losing a title rematch.
8. Johny “Big Rig” Hendricks
While his fall from grace was immense, there is no denying that Johny Hendricks was a force to be reckoned with in the UFC welterweight division. After making his UFC debut at UFC 101, Hendricks went 6-1 in the Octagon before being offered his first big break against then #1 contender Jon Fitch.
He made the most of the big step up, finishing Fitch in just 12 seconds before beating Josh Koscheck, Martin Kampmann and Carlos Condit before losing via split decision to George St-Pierre in a title challenge. He won the title against Robbie Lawler after GSP vacated the belt, only to lose it to Lawler in a rematch nine months later.
9. Rory MacDonald
Rory MacDonald entered the UFC at a young age and immediately was touted as a welterweight of the future. After amassing a flawless 9-0 record in his home country of Canada, MacDonald was signed by the UFC and made his Octagon debut at just 20-years- old.
He went 8-2 in the Octagon before fighting Robbie Lawler (who he had lost to via split decision 20 months prior) for the UFC Welterweight title, which he lost in the fifth round. MacDonald later signed with rival organisation Bellator and became the Welterweight champion of that promotion.
10. Carlos Condit
The ‘Natural Born Killer’ came up short against the best of the best during his UFC career, but his entertaining wins against many big names have led to Condit’s inclusion on the list. Condit finished Rory MacDonald, Dan Hardy and Dong Hyun Kim before winning the UFC Interim Welterweight title after defeating Nick Diaz.
He lost to Georges St-Pierre in his bid to unify the titles, and also went onto lose to eventual titleholders Johny Hendricks and Tyron Woodley. However, wins over Martin Kampmann and Thiago Alves were enough to get Condit a title shot against Robbie Lawler, which he lost via a controversial decision.