Does The UFC Still Dominate Every Division: Lightweights and Welterweights

UFC
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JULY 12: Kamaru Usman of Nigeria celebrates after his victory over Jorge Masvidal in their UFC welterweight championship fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 12, 2020 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

The UFC is the undeniable pinnacle of an MMA fighter’s career, or so is the apparent general consensus. It holds the biggest talent pool out of any promotion, with fighters from other promotions time and time again struggling to fully transition into the prestigious company, and MMA rankings constantly in flux.

Is the UFC dominant?

However, does the UFC truly hold the current greatest fighter in the world, for each weight division? ONE FCBellatorRizinPFL, and KSW all have some extremely high-level talent within their rosters. In this series, we will analyze each weight division within the UFC and compare its champions and number 1 contenders with that of the smaller promotions around the world. Bear in mind this list is subjective to opinion, and you may have different thoughts on the topic. This article will focus on the welterweight and lightweight divisions, two of the most talent stacked weight classes in the sport.

Welterweight

UFC Champ Karmaru Usman is such a dominant figure within the UFC roster that it is hard to see an alternative. However, Bellator’s Douglas Lima is an undeniable contender. With wins over Rory MacDonald and Michael Page, he is certainly the best 170lber in his promotion.

Despite this, Usman’s resume is just too impressive to bypass. ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ has defeated the likes of Colby Covington, Jorge Masvidal, and Tyron Woodley. At UFC 258 he will take on the number 1 contender Gilbert Burns, who has a record more akin to that of Lima. Leon Edwards certainly has the potential to match the likes of Usman, although he must first get past the prospect of 2020, Khamzat Chimaev.

Decision: Usman’s record speaks for itself, he is the current 175lb GOAT. Burns and Lima come in a joint second place.

Lightweight

Possibly the deepest weight class out there, the 155lb division is completely stacked. However, the UFC’s lightweight division is somewhat tied up currently. Khabib Nurmagomedov retired following his win over Justin Gaethje in 2020, and yet he is still technically the lightweight champion. The MMA community appears to have an essentially unanimous take that ‘The Eagle’ is the greatest lightweight alive, and quite possibly of all time. However, to make things more interesting, he will not be included in this debate, due to his retirement.

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Instead, we must look at the number 1 UFC contender, Dustin Poirier. Coming off an emphatic win over Conor McGregor, Poirier is looking near unstoppable. He holds a win over the second-ranked UFC lightweight Justin Gaethje, which cancels him out. However, both Charles Olivera and Michael Chandler are both directly on ‘The Diamonds’ heels.

At Bellator, Patricio Freire is a legitimate threat to Poirier’s dominance at 155lbs. Freire holds a win over Michael Chandler, whose recent first-round KO of Dan Hooker only serves to further bolster Freire’s resume. An incredible 31-4 record, which also includes wins over Juan Archuleta and Pedro Carvalho, is an astounding feat to accomplish in the sport of MMA. Either way, it goes, this will be a razor-thin decision.

Decision: It’s near impossible to pick between Poirier and Freire, but there must be a winner. Somewhat controversially I’m sure, but it’s gonna go to Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire. His record and skillset deserve so much more acknowledgment than he currently receives, and with a win over Michael Chandler, he’s proved that he can stack up with the UFC’s best. Although it should be noted, a win over the likes of Olivera would most likely sway it Poirier’s way.

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