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The UFC welterweight rankings often include some of the most talented and popular fighters in the sport. From the legendary days of Georges St-Pierre reigning supreme as the king of Canada to the current era of “The Nigerian Nightmare,” the division is filled with some of the promotion’s most important talents.
With that in mind, here are the official Sportsnaut rankings for the top 10 170-pound fighters in the best cage fighting promotion on earth.
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10. Geoff Neal (15-4)
Three years ago, Geoff Neal was one of the hottest fighters in the UFC welterweight division. However, back-to-back losses to two ranked talents derailed his rising up the ranking. But it looks like “Handz of Steel” is back on track with consecutive victories against Santiago Ponzinibbio and a shocking knockout of Vicente Luque in the Summer. He gets a serious test in a rebooked scrap with fast-rising prospect Shavakt Rahkmonov in March at UFC 285.
- Next fight: vs. Shavkat Rahkmonov at UFC 285 on March 4
9. Sean Brady (15-1)
Outside of Khamzat Chimaev, Sean Brady is the next great rising monster in the division. While he may not be quite as fearsome as the Russian, the Philadelphia native has stifling grappling skills that are an absolute handful and one of the biggest puzzles in the entire division. However, Belal Muhammad was able to tame the young beast at UFC 280 and hand him his first loss by TKO. While it was certainly a setback, it was a major learning lesson for the fighter since it was a major step up in competition and a win-win scenario.
In March, he will get a chance to get back in the winner’s circle in a classic grappler versus striker clash with Brazilian wildman Michel Pereira.
- Next fight: vs. Michel Pereira on March 25
8. Vicente Luque (21-8-1)
Vicente Luque has had an outstanding career in the UFC. Quietly, he has amassed a 15-3 record and become one of the best welterweights on the planet. However, each time he is on the cusp of serious title contention he has come up short. That happened once again in his UFC Vegas 51 main event defeat to Belal Muhammad. Now, the Brazilian’s championship hopes in 2022 are dashed. He must instead rebuild his place in the UFC rankings and set his sights and title aspirations to 2023.
- Next fight: TBD
7. Stephen Thompson (17-6-1)
Like Masvidal, Stephen Thompson’s days as a serious title contender are done. However, he is still a skilled fighter deserving of high-level opposition and fights that would be featured bouts on future pay-per-view main cards. Or in the case of UFC Orlando, the main event of a Fight Night card.
On Dec. 3, “Wonderboy” showed that even at 39 he is still one of the most talented fighters in the division and an absolute handful on the feet. In his win over the always-tough Kevin Holland, Thompson displayed he is also just as tough as he is technically gifted. Another matchup with a fun striker should be up next for Thompson.
- Next fight: TBD
6. Colby Covington (17-3)
In beating Jorge Masvidal at UFC 272, Colby Covington earned revenge and vindication. He solidified his spot in the top three of the division and sent his former bestie to the back of the contention line forever. The question now is, does he want to face the best of the rest at welterweight and stay in the title picture, or use his popularity to make the most money he can now? A rumored bout with Khamzat Chimaev may actually kill two birds with one stone.
- Next fight: TBD
5. Gilbert Burns (21-5)
Despite his loss to rising superstar Khamzat Chimaev, Gilbert Burns remains a world-class welterweight. Nevertheless, he has still lost two of his last three and is out of title contention for at least a year. With a need to win at least two fights to return to contender status, the Brazilian’s climb back to a title fight began again with a Jan. clash against top-15 Neil Magny.
While Magny is a very talented veteran, the levels to the game showed as “Durinho” quickly grounded his foe and made him tap in less than a minute. The win was a must and re-certified that the Brazilian is one of the best at welterweight.
“Durinho” was rewarded for his efforts with a booking that has been rumored since last summer. That being a scrap with two-time title challenger and division superstar Jorge Masvidal in April. The fight will also renew the long-time rivalry between the two top MMA gyms in Florida, American Top Team and Sanford MMA.
- Next fight: vs. Jorge Masvidal on Apr. 8
4. Khamzat Chimaev (12-0)
At UFC 273 Khamzat Chimaev proved once and for all that he is the real deal. In his fight of the year-level clash with Burns, he answered many of the questions remaining about his striking abilities, toughness, and fight IQ. However, he opened up new questions about his dedication by missing weight by a ridiculous seven pounds for his UFC 279 main event against Nate Diaz. The miscue cost him a massive opportunity and likely will force the UFC to make him prove he can make the 171-pound limit again before thinking about giving him a title fight in 2023.
3. Belal Muhammad (22-3)
You can no longer doubt the talents of Belal Muhammad. He has beaten Demian Maia, Stephen Thompson, and now Luque in his last three fights, definitively. That, matched with his nine-fight unbeaten streak is worthy of a title opportunity. However, with a title fight already booked, Muhammad rolled the dice in facing rising star Sean Brady at UFC 280.
He came up with a winner when he dominated the Philly native en route to an impressive second-round TKO. The Chicago native’s care for a championship opportunity is as strong as ever.
- Next fight: TBD
2. Kamaru Usman (20-2)
One of the greatest title reigns in UFC history came to a shocking end at UFC 278. One small mistake prevented Kamaru Usman from tying Anderson Silva for the most title defenses in UFC history. The former division king did so much right in his fight against Leon Edwards, but one little misjudgment changed the division’s history forever.
In March, the welterweight legend will get a chance to wipe that stain off his resume away when he faces Edwards in a rubber match for the title, respect, and his legacy.
- Next fight: vs. Leon Edwards on Mar. 18 at UFC 286
1. Leon Edwards (20-3)
The UFC has its second-ever champion that fights out of the UK and the first Jamaican-born titlist. Edwards shook up the MMA world with his last-minute knockout of the best fighter of his generation, Kamaru Usman, at UFC 278.
The Englishman will get to prove his win was not a fluke in March, in front of his countrymen when he once again battles the division legend in a trilogy fight for the gold and legacy.
- Next fight: vs. Kamaru Usman on Mar. 18 at UFC 286