UFC listed 80 fighters in this class as of Feb. 18. That’s extraordinarily deep even as the champion seems peerless. Having two welterweight TUF classes (TUF 16, TUF Smashes) in the same year is one way to extend the talent pool, even if most of TUF 16 disappeared immediately. And then several more disappeared Feb. 19.
Updated March 13
Georges St. Pierre (17-2 UFC, 23-2 overall): Last loss: Matt Serra, April 2007. Since then: beat Koscheck (2X), Hughes, Serra, Fitch, Penn, Alves, Hardy, Koscheck, Shields, Condit), the latter a re-unification when Condit took the interim title during GSP’s 18-month injury absence. Too cautious? Maybe. But a classy fighter in every sense. Next: Nick Diaz, March 16
Nick Diaz (7-5 UFC, 8-5 Zuffa, 26-8 overall): Never a dull moment, either in his press conferences (when he shows) or his fights. Lost the interim title bout to Condit, breaking an 11-fight win streak. Naturally, got title shot anyway. Next: Georges St. Pierre, March 16
Johny Hendricks (9-1 UFC, 11-1 Zuffa, 14-1 overall): Five-fight streak, with three huge wins: Fitch (TKO-1), Koscheck (SD), Kampmann (TKO-1). Miffed over lack of title shot. You blame him? Next: Carlos Condit, March 16
Jake Ellenberger (7-2 UFC, 28-6 overall): On behalf of his brother, please consider a donation to the National Organization for Rare Disorders. Won six straight, lost to Kampmann, beat Hieron. Next: Nate Marquardt, March 16
Rory MacDonald (5-1 UFC, 14-1 overall): Debuted in the UFC at age 20. Has won four straight and had shot to avenge Condit loss before injury.
Carlos Condit (5-2 UFC, 10-2 Zuffa, 28-6 overall): Longtime WEC champion had terrific five-fight run to win interim belt, then fought solid bout against GSP. Next: Johny Hendricks, March 16
Siyar Bahadurzada (1-1 UFC, 21-5-1 overall): From Afghanistan via the Netherlands, the former Shooto champion needed only 42 seconds to KO Paulo Thiago in his debut. But Dong Hyun Kim set him back (March 3).
John Hathaway (7-1 UFC, 17-1 overall): If English prospect got some finishes, would he get some better opposition?
Martin Kampmann (11-5 UFC, 20-6 overall): Underrated fighter can’t quite get into the No. 1 contender’s slot at 185 or 170. Two dubious decision losses (Shields, Sanchez).
Dong Hyun Kim (8-2 UFC, 17-2-1 overall): Korea’s “Stun Gun” won his first five, dropped fights to Condit and Maia around another win, then won his last two (Bahadurzada, March 3). Time to bump up?
Demian Maia (12-4 UFC, 18-4 overall): Former middleweight challenger is on a roll as a welterweight: KOd Kim in the first minute, beat Story with a “rear naked torque,” outgrappled Fitch (Feb. 2).
Nate Marquardt (10-4 UFC, 11-5 Zuffa, 32-10-2 overall): Former middleweight challenger nearly got another title shot, then hit a snag with some confusion over his testosterone usage exemption. UFC cut him, but he beat Woodley for Strikeforce belt. Then lost it to Saffiedine. Next: Jake Ellenberger, March 16
Tarec Saffiedine (0-0 UFC, 4-0 Zuffa, 14-3 overall): The final Strikeforce champion, having beaten Marquardt on the last card. Ranked #10 in UFC before Octagon debut.
MARQUEE NAMES (Diego Sanchez is back at lightweight for now; Matt Hughes has retired)
Yoshihiro Akiyama (1-4 UFC, 13-5 overall): OK, so Sexyama barely beat Belcher in his Octagon debut and lost four straight. But what style!
Thiago Alves (11-6 UFC, 20-9 overall): Won seven to earn title shot but hasn’t regained momentum since.
Matt Brown (9-5 UFC, 16-11 overall): “The Immortal” is on a four-fight streak. Next: Dan Hardy, April 20
Dan Hardy (6-4 UFC, 25-10 overall): Won four, won fans by absorbing punishment vs. GSP, lost four (including GSP fight), won two. Same garish Mohawk. Next: Matt Brown, April 20
Josh Koscheck (15-7 UFC, 17-7 overall): Since GSP beat him up in title bout, he beat aging warhorse Hughes but was underwhelming against Pierce and lost to Hendricks. Then Lawler KOd him (Feb. 23).
Robbie Lawler (5-3 UFC, 6-5 Zuffa, 20-9 overall): Trivia answer: He won the first UFC fight shown on free TV, a 2002 win over Steve Berger (TKO-2). And on first MMA card on live network TV (EliteXC). And now he’s back in the UFC with a KO of Koscheck (Feb. 23).
BJ Penn (12-8-2 UFC, 16-9-2 overall): Once the best lightweight in the world and once the welterweight champion, the ever-popular Prodigy has hit a rough patch, battered by Diaz and MacDonald.
Matt Serra (7-7 UFC, 11-7 overall): Former champ had a great run, but a comeback seems unlikely.
Jake Shields (2-2 UFC, 27-6 overall): Former EliteXC welterweight and former Strikeforce middleweight champion (beating Dan Henderson) has been inconsistent in the UFC and flunked a drug test. Next: Tyron Woodley, June 15
Mike Swick (10-4 UFC, 15-5 overall): Won nine of first 10, but injuries have sapped “Quick” of his momentum.
Seth Baczynski (4-2 UFC, 18-9 overall): Came back to the UFC after being sent away post-TUF, then won four straight before facing Pierce. Next: Brian Melancon, July 6
Nick Catone (3-4 UFC, 9-4 overall): Beat Costa Philippou in his middleweight days. Next: James Head, April 27
Patrick Cote (5-8 UFC, 18-8 overall): Lost first three in UFC, came back in TUF 4, lost final, won four straight, hurt in title bout vs. Silva, washed out of UFC, came back, dropped to welterweight. Next: Bobby Voelker, March 16
Brian Ebersole (4-1 UFC, 50-15-1 overall): Traveled the world, with championship belts in Australia and Mexico, before getting long-awaited shot. Won four, lost to Head.
Duane “Bang” Ludwig (4-5 UFC, 21-14 overall): Exciting guy. Please don’t tell the UFC he’s lost three straight.
Court McGee (4-2 UFC, 15-3 overall): TUF middleweight champ beat addiction. Can he beat injuries and judges who keep giving Ring decisions over him? Dropped to 170 and beat Neer (Feb. 23).
Dan Miller (6-5 UFC, 14-6 overall): Former IFL middleweight champion has spent a lot of time during his UFC career dealing with his children’s health problems. Fought tough foes at 185, then took Submission of the Night honors in 170 debut. Next: Jordan Mein, March 16
Josh Neer (6-9 UFC, 33-13-1 overall): On-again, off-again UFC fighter lost his last three (McGee Feb. 23), and that might be it.
Kyle Noke (4-2 UFC, 20-6-1 overall): Stopped two-fight skid with KO of Charlie Brenneman.
Mike Pierce (8-3 UFC, 9-3 Zuffa, 16-5 overall): Might be missing definitive win, but his only losses are to Fitch, Hendricks and Koscheck — two by split decision.
Sean Pierson (3-2 UFC, 13-6 overall): Longtime Canadian pro won twice in 2012. Out of fight vs. Story. Next: T.J. Waldburger, June 15
Mike Pyle (7-3 UFC, 24-8-1 overall): Won six of last seven, the last three by first-round KO. Probably due for a stern test. Here it is. Next: Gunnar Nelson, May 25
Amir Sadollah (6-4 UFC, 6-4 overall): Exciting fighter on TUF hasn’t showed the same spark in the UFC. Next: Stephen Thompson, May 25
Rick Story (7-4 UFC, 14-6 overall): Won six in a row, the best over Hendricks and Alves, but 1-3 in last four. Next: Quinn Mulhern, March 16
Paulo Thiago (4-5 UFC, 14-5 overall): Floored Koscheck in debut, had two more good wins but is 1-4 in last five. Next: Lance Benoist, May 18
T.J. Waldburger (4-2 UFC, 16-7 overall): Won three of four since loss to Hendricks. Next: Sean Pierson, June 15
Pascal Krauss (2-1 UFC, 11-1 overall): Lost to Hathaway; last win over Stumpf (Jan. 26).
Jordan Mein (0-0 UFC, 2-1 Zuffa, 26-8 overall): 2-1 in Strikeforce, taking Woodley to split decision. Started his career with a loss to MacDonald in a battle of teenagers. Next: UFC debut, Dan Miller, March 16
Gunnar Nelson (2-0 UFC, 11-0-1 overall): A jiu-jitsu expert from Iceland? Wiped out DaMarques Johnson in debut, beat Santiago (Feb. 16). Next: Mike Pyle, May 25
Erick Silva (2-2 UFC, 14-3 overall): First three UFC fights were brief, including DQ loss. Fitch is the first person to beat him convincingly.
Robert Whittaker (1-0 UFC, 10-2 overall): Class of the TUF Smashes field. So why not face the TUF 16 winner? Next: Colton Smith, May 25
Tyron Woodley (1-0 UFC, 3-1 Zuffa, 11-1 overall): Former Big 12 champion wrestler won eight straight in Strikeforce, lost title bout, demolished Hieron in first minute of UFC debut (Feb. 2). Next: Jake Shields, June 15
Papy Abedi (0-2 UFC, 8-2 overall): Lost first two by first-round RNC. Next: Besam Yousef, April 6
Ildemar Alcantara (1-0 UFC, 18-5 overall): Beat Wagner Prado (Jan. 19) in his UFC debut at light heavyweight. Makes perfect sense to drop two weight classes, right? Next: Jason High, June 8
Benny Alloway (1-0 UFC, 13-3 overall): TUF Smashes alum won debut.
Adlan Amagov (0-0 UFC, 3-1 Zuffa, 11-2-1 overall): 1-1 in Strikeforce in 2012, losing to Lawler. Light heavyweight in Russia and Ukraine, middleweight in Strikeforce, welterweight now. Next: Chris Spang, April 6
Lance Benoist (1-2 UFC, 6-2 overall): Stunned Riddle in debut; lost next two. Next: Paulo Thiago, May 18
Nah-Shon Burrell (1-0 UFC, 4-1 Zuffa, 9-2 overall): Lost last Strikeforce bout to Spang. Missed weight in UFC debut but beat Villefort in good bout (Feb. 23).
Chris Clements (1-0 UFC, 11-4 overall): Loss to Riddle was overturned.
Justin Edwards (2-2 UFC, 8-2 overall): TUF 13 alternate has alternated wins and losses. Out of fight vs. Nelson.
Marcelo Guimaraes (1-1 UFC, 8-1-1 overall): Plenty of grappling and jiu-jitsu titles. Suffered first loss to Lim (KO, March 3).
James Head (2-2 UFC, 9-3 overall): 2-1 in 2012, losing last to Pyle. Next: Nick Catone, April 27
Jason High (0-0 UFC, 1-1 Zuffa, 16-3 overall): Losses to Hieron (Affliction), Zaromskis (Dream), Brenneman (UFC). 3-1 in Strikeforce.
Brock Jardine (0-2 UFC, 9-3 overall): The offspring of Lesnar and Keith? Lost to Story and Robertson.
Hyun Gyu Lim (1-0 UFC, 11-3-1 overall): Korean fighter KOd Guimaraes in debut.
Ryan LaFlare (0-0 UFC, 7-0 overall): Seven wins, all finishes, in Ring of Combat. Next: Benny Alloway, April 6
Neil Magny (1-0 UFC, 8-1 overall): TUF 16 semifinalist got a chance to quiet that season’s critics and beat Manley (Feb. 23).
Brian Melancon (0-0 UFC, 1-1 Zuffa, 6-2 overall): Had two Strikeforce bouts in 2011 (1-1) and didn’t fight in 2012. Next: Seth Baczynski, July 6
David Mitchell (1-2 UFC, 12-2 overall): Lost first two, beat Thoresen (Jan. 26). Also has win over Bobby Green.
Sergio Moraes (1-1 UFC, 7-2 overall): Lost TUF Brazil middleweight final to Mutante, beat Renee Forte.
Quinn Mulhern (3-1 UFC, 18-2 overall): Won last three in Strikeforce after loss to High. Next: Rick Story, March 16
Claude Patrick (3-1 UFC, 14-2 overall): Won first three in UFC; hasn’t fought since split decision loss to Ebersole in 2011.
Kenny Robertson (1-2 UFC, 12-2 overall): Lost, left, returned, lost again, then unleashed novel hamstring-tearing submission to beat Jardine (Feb. 23).
Manny Rodriguez (0-1 UFC, 9-4 overall): From El Salvador via Australia, TUF Smashes alum lost debut to Alloway.
Brad Scott (0-1 UFC, 8-2 overall): Dropped TUF Smashes finale to Whittaker.
Chris Spang (0-0 UFC, 1-1 Zuffa, 5-1 overall): 2012 in Strikeforce: Lost to Legere, KOd Burrell. Nicknamed “The Kiss.” Must be a Bill Raftery fan. Next: Adlan Agamov, April 6
Colton Smith (1-0 UFC, 3-1 overall): TUF 16 champion. Don’t hold that against him. Next: Robert Whittaker, May 25
Stephen Thompson (1-1 UFC, 6-1 overall): Tri-Star product won debut, lost to Matt Brown 11 weeks later. Next: Amir Sadollah, May 25
Yuri Villefort (0-1 UFC, 0-2 Zuffa, 6-2 overall): Lost split decision to Mulhern in Strikeforce and lost tough one to overweight Burrell (Feb. 23).
Bobby Voelker (0-0 UFC, 1-0 Zuffa, 24-8 overall): Hasn’t fought since completing his trilogy with Roger Bowling in Strikeforce. Next: Patrick Cote, March 16
Keith Wisniewski (0-3 UFC, 28-14 overall): Lost debut in 2005. Came back in 2011 and lost two more.
Besam Yousef (0-1 UFC, 6-1 overall): Swedish fighter lost debut to Thoresen. Next: Papy Abedi, April 6
RECENT RELEASES (from UFC)
Jon Fitch (14-3-1 UFC, 24-5-1 overall): Shed rep as boring fighter by losing to Hendricks in 12 seconds, then taking Fight of the Night in beating E. Silva. Then Maia outgrappled him (Feb. 2) and he was shockingly released despite holding the No. 9 spot in the UFC rankings.
Jay Hieron (0-4 UFC, 23-7 overall): Has won everywhere but the UFC. Losses in 2004, 2005, 2012 and 2013 (Feb. 2, KO Woodley).
Jon Manley (0-1 UFC, 7-2 overall): See Neil Magny, except he lost (Feb. 23). Another chance? Nope.
Che Mills (2-1 UFC, 15-5 overall): Lost TUF prelim, worked his way to UFC and was tossed in deep water against MacDonald in second fight. KOd Ludwig, got manhandled by Riddle (Feb. 16) but saw the verdict changed to no contest. Still cut.
Matt Riddle (7-3 UFC, 7-3 overall): Kids, don’t smoke pot.
Jorge Santiago (1-5 UFC, 25-11 overall): Returned for third crack at UFC with loss to Nelson (Feb. 16). Outside U.S., beat Khalidov and Bahadurzada.
Mike Stumpf (0-2 UFC, 11-4 overall): Lost to Waldburger and Krauss (Jan. 26).
Simeon Thoresen (1-2 UFC, 17-4 overall): Norwegian won debut, lost to Baczynski and Mitchell (Jan. 26).
Ben Askren (11-0 overall): Wrestler and Bellator champion is also a competitive disc golfer, which is cool. Wiped out Amoussou in least boring performance so far.
Karl Amossou (16-5-2 overall): Won Season Six (spring 2012) welterweight tournament, lost badly to Askren.
Paul Daley (30-12-2 overall): Ousted from the UFC after 2-1 run for a postfight swing at Josh Koscheck, now unable to fight for Bellator due to visa issues. Before mourning too much, remember that he was 2-3 in Strikeforce in 2010-12.
Andrey Koreshkov (13-0 overall): 22-year-old Russian won Season Seven (fall 2012) welterweight tournament and therefore next in line to face Askren.
Season 8 final (postponed): Ben Saunders (KOd Raul Amaya Feb. 21) vs. Douglas Lima (KOd Bryan Baker Feb. 21)
Aaron Simpson (8-4 UFC, 12-4 overall): Was supposed to fight Fitch in welterweight debut. Beat Kenny Robertson instead, then lost to Pierce. Didn’t re-up with the UFC; instead, moves to World Series of Fighting to face fellow UFC alum Josh Burkman.