ByGareth Cavanagh, writer at
This is the sequel to Check out the original for more ramblings. Twitter: @cavanagh_gareth Instagram: cavanaghg
Gareth Cavanagh

Welterweight has historically been one of the most competitive weight classes in the UFC.

Some of the promotion's biggest stars, guys like champion Tyron Woodley, Stephen "" Thompson, and fight at that weight, and, two of the UFC's biggest needle movers, and , fought out two lucrative thrillers at 170 pounds.

A weight class that routinely delivers some of the most exciting fights in MMA, welterweight is one of few divisions that is not completely log jammed at the moment, begging the question, what is next?

Since November 2016, the title picture has been occupied with the rivalry between Woodley and Thompson. Following a majority draw at , Woodley and "Wonderboy" returned at , with the champ retaining his title.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

And while "Wonderboy" distinguished himself as the rightful number-one contender, a new crop of challengers is prime to fight for the title, led by the oft-overlooked .

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Having won six-straight bouts at 170 pounds, Maia is nearing his second UFC title shot, with the first coming as a middleweight against at UFC 112. First, however, Maia faces a stiff test in fifth-ranked . The two square off on May 13 at , and depending on how the fight goes, the winner could easily distinguish himself as the next contender.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Another big welterweight clash is slated for later this year, when former champion Lawler faces at .

Originally scheduled for UFC 205, Lawler withdrew from the bout; however, a blockbuster fight between the former champ and one of the UFC's biggest stars could, very easily, determine the division's next contender.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Further down the divisional ranks, welterweight newcomer, and former lightweight champion, will make his 170-pound debut at .

Dos Anjos struggled with the cut to lightweight for years, recently revealing that he passed out while cutting before losing his title to . It will be interesting to see how dos Anjos looks at full strength without being depleted by a drastic weight cut. And should he get by Tarec Saffiedine, dos Anjos could quickly vault up the divisional rankings.

Etzel Espinosa-USA TODAY Sports
Etzel Espinosa-USA TODAY Sports

No discussion of the welterweight division can be complete without mention of . Already rumored to be fighting Woodley at UFC 213, Diaz, brother of Nate, has not fought since January 2015, sitting on the sidelines while serving a suspension for failing a post-fight drug test for THC. Still, Diaz is a perennial contender, and one of the division's most exciting fighters.

With a bevvy of viable contenders, it appears that the welterweight division will continue to be one of the most exciting weight classes in the UFC.

UFC Welterweight Rankings (as of 4/24/17):

  • Champion - Tyron Woodley
  • #1 - Stephen Thompson
  • #2 - Robbie Lawler
  • #3 - Demian Maia
  • #4 - Carlos Condit
  • #5 - Jorge Masvidal
  • #6 - Neil Magny
  • #7 - Dong Hyun Kim
  • #8 - Donald Cerrone
  • #9 - Gunnar Nelson
  • #10 - Kamaru Usman


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