The recent news of Georges St. Pierre’s title vacation, while somewhat expected, has still yet to really sink in with many UFC fans. The future of one of the most competitive UFC divisions could take a bright turn for the good, or it could lead to mass chaos. Only time will tell that story, but as of right now the 170lb division is at quite an interesting point. Contenders have risen from the “gatekeeper-grave” and are not challenging for the title, bright prospects have fallen, and even better yet, new prospects are sprouting out of the surface of combat. This what the welterweight division looks like right now.

Welterweight Title

The UFC’s Welterweight Champion will be crowned when Johny Hendricks defends his formidable stock against the unstoppable force in Robbie Lawler. Rejuvenated from a 3-5 Strikeforce record, Robbie Lawler has earned himself a shot at the vacant welterweight strap with a 3-fight win streak including 2 knockouts and 2 victories over top ten opponents. He’ll be put opposite of Johny Hendricks who made his name known around the world when he arguably put a 5-round beat down on the champion, but was unable to steal the decision in a fight many scored for Hendricks. Both Lawler and Hendricks are hard hitters, so this explosive affair is definitely a fitting match-up to determine the UFC’s next welterweight champion.

Rory MacDonald vs. Demian Maia

The former top contender, Rory MacDonald, seemed to be well on his way to becoming the next great kingpin of the welterweight division – until he met Robbie Lawler. It seems as if the stars would have aligned just right, given that MacDonald’s teammate, Georges St. Pierre, would later vacate the title and seemingly leave it in the hands of his friend Rory MacDonald. A split decision loss to Lawler would mean that the unstoppable is stoppage, and more important yet, will have to start up again. He takes on the Jiu-Jitsu specialist, Demian Maia, who also had quite the streak going for him. A lackluster performance against a lackluster Jake Shields which results in a lackluster fight will no put Maia on “death row” against MacDonald. This seems like a pivotal bout for both men to see if they genuinely have a shot at ever being a champion. MacDonald has the hype behind him still, but Maia seems to be the trickier puzzle. UFC 170 brings us this great match-up.

Carlos Condit vs. Tyron Woodley and Jake Shields vs. Hector Lombard

UFC 171 gives us a treat with two very important welterweight match-ups. First off, Carlos Condit, arguably the next guy in line for the title (once the title is actually in someone’s hands), defends his top rank against the talented, Tyron Woodley, who just had the performance of his career. Condit has always been a top-ranked fighter thanks to his diverse skill set and technical fighting approach, but he faces a man who has the power and athleticism to leap frog him. Tyron Woodley displayed explosive boxing and vicious knockout power when he KO’d Josh Koscheck. Woodley has gained everyone’s attention with his knockout, now, against Carlos Condit, he gets a chance to really make it worth something.

Also on the card is a bout between a resilient contender and a dynamic knockout artist who has made a vow to never to lose again. Jake Shields, a long-time contender and extremely successful fighter, is aiming to get another chance at UFC gold. He doesn’t have the “shock-and-awe” that many other contenders do, but his resilience and determination has earned him win after win. Shields will put his 3-fight (4-fight if u count his NC against Ed Herman) win streak up for grabs in a dangerous contest against a man who has made being a champion his destiny. Hector Lombard made a promise to never lose again after his closely contested match with Yushin Okami. We’ve seen what Lombard is capable of with his vicious piston-like flurries that pack the power of crashing meteors, but it seems that Lombard’s biggest opponent is himself. Hector has struggled to pull the trigger and really perform to the best of his ability, but he’ll need to do exactly that if he wants any hopes of beating Shields

Other notable welterweight bouts:

John Howard vs. Siyar Bahadurzada UFC 168

Tarec Saffiedine vs. Hyun Gyu Lim UFC Fight Night Saffiedine vs. Lim

Jason High vs. Adlan Amagov UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Phillippou

Mike Pyle vs. TJ Waldburger UFC 170

Gunnar Nelson vs. Omari Akhmedov UFC Fight Night: Gustafsson vs. Manuwa