The UFC’s welterweight division is as hot as it’s ever been. Birmingham’s own, Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards sits on the throne with a single title defence over Kamaru Usman and scheduled against Colby Covington next.
On the outside of the title picture (for now) we have three undefeated prospects, all of whom have varying styles and potentially differing ceilings in the promotion. Ian Garry, Shavkat Rakhmonov and Khamzat Chimaev are all considerable prospects in the sport and we ranked them!
Top 3 Welterweight Prospects Ranked
Ireland’s Ian Garry is coming off the biggest win of his career, an utterly dominant three-round victory over the veteran, Neil Magny. Undoubtedly, he’s a fan favourite and is getting the ‘UFC push’. He’s got a likeable personality and is a strong talker on the mic, in interviews and he also gets ‘it’. Whatever ‘it’ is, Garry has it and also gets it. He knows how to make a viral moment, which is exactly what he did against Magny when he flipped him off at the end of the round in the UFC 292.
Across his six UFC fights, he’s finished three via strikes. His stand-up game is on point but he has a relatively unknown ground game at the highest level.
He’s scheduled to compete on Edwards’ undercard against teammate, Vicente Luque. Luque is a good step up in competition and will provide a tough test for Ireland’s next star.
There’s a strong argument that Rakhomonov is the most well-rounded out of our three welterweight prospects. We’ve seen a lot of his game already throughout his five UFC bouts thus far. We’ve seen his stand-up game, in particular against Geoff Neal last time out. We know that he can take a shot and can certainly hand them out as well.
He’s got a record of 17-0 with 17 finishes and in the UFC has notched four submissions and a knockout. He’s the former M1-Challenge welterweight champion and has proved himself time and time again.
The issue with Rakhmonov is that he has only had one true test in Neal. He was scheduled to face Kelvin Gastelum, however, the former title challenger had to withdraw due to a facial injury. We also are unsure as to whether he can hold up a card on his own as the headliner, however, let’s hope he headlines a fight night soon. He’ll clash with Stephen Thompson, also at UFC 296 in what promises to be fireworks.
𝙄𝙩’𝙨 𝙤𝙛𝙛𝙞𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡. 🚨
Stephen Thompson will face Shavkat Rakhmonov in a welterweight bout on December 16th. #UFC296
— Paradigm Sports (@ParadigmSports) September 27, 2023
The phenom, Khamzat Chimaev is arguably the most well-known of the three 170lbs prospects. This one comes with an astrix too, can he even make welterweight anymore? Of course, Chimaev was scheduled to face Nate Diaz at UFC 279, however, missed weight so badly that he was pulled from the fight. He’s scheduled to compete at middleweight next against Paulo Costa at UFC 294, however, hasn’t fully closed the door on welterweight just yet.
Paulo Costa will face Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi, Dana White announced. pic.twitter.com/xHBPb3RJ7Q
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 20, 2023
He’s well-rounded but often relies on his utterly dominant wrestling game. He averages 3.98 takedowns per 15 minutes, however, more often than not, he only needs one takedown to end things. His war with Gilbert Burns showed that he’s got the dog in him and it certainly helped him get over with fans.
He’s a massive fan favourite and is an extremely good talker on the mic, knows how to cut a promo and is active on social media in calling out potential future opponents.
Overall, it’s hard to look past Chimaev as the hottest welterweight prospect. He’s got the bigger wins on his record with names including Kevin Holland, Gilbert Burns and Li Jingliang. With that being said, it’s hard to know if we’ll see him back down at 170lbs again, especially if he gets the win over Costa at 185.
Rakhamonov is the second most promising prospect of the three. We’ve seen his well-rounded game, he’s a finisher and has a style that matches up well with those in the 170lbs division. What Nomad needs next is a big step up in competition and potentially a headline slot on a fight night. He’ll have to get past Wonderboy if he is to do any of this, however.
Ian Garry is without a doubt a top prospect. With that being said, we haven’t seen his whole game, he seems to be open to being hurt (he was dropped by Song Kenan in their fight) and doesn’t always show that finishing instinct. At just 25, he’s far from reaching his prime but already looks extremely good. In a few years, with a number of more UFC fights under his belt, we could be talking about Garry being a legit contender, however, we haven’t quite seen championship material… yet.