1. Georges St. Pierre
Since joining the ranks of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Georges St. Pierre has done one thing and done it well… win. En route to amassing a 15-2 professional record, his only losses are to former welterweight champion Matt Hughes and current champion Matt Serra. His win list is arguably even more impressive. Considered the prototype for the modern day fighter, St. Pierre has defeated a who’s who of competition. His victories include B.J. Penn, Sean Sherk, Frank Trigg, Karo Parisyan, two over Matt Hughes, and more. He is currently the interim champion – a title he earned by defeating Hughes for the second time – and will try to cement his spot at the top of the division in an April 19 showdown with No. 2 ranked Matt Serra.
2. Matt Serra
Serra rocketed up the rankings when he knocked out St. Pierre last year in Houston to capture the UFC welterweight title. He has always had a strong background in jiu-jitsu – Serra is a black belt under Renzo Gracie – but proved against St. Pierre that he has improved his stand-up game. He has a 4-1 record in his last five performances, but has been inactive for nearly a year due to coaching on The Ultimate Fighter reality series and then suffering a back injury that kept him out of his planned defense against Hughes. A second victory over St. Pierre would quiet his detractors, while a loss would stir up more arguments as to whether or not he is deserving of sitting at or near the top of the division’s rankings.
3. Jon Fitch
Although Fitch has cast off the tags of being one of the most underrated fighters in the welterweight division – he is sitting at No. 3 in the rankings after all – he still has yet to be granted an opportunity to compete for every fighter’s ultimate goal… a championship. With a professional record of 17-2 and an undefeated streak of 8-0 in the Octagon, it is near impossible to argue that Fitch doesn’t deserve a title shot. His losses were early on in his career and he has gone on to defeat the likes of Diego Sanchez, Josh Burkman, Roan Carneiro, Luigi Fioravanti, Thiago Alves, and Brock Larson.
4. Matt Hughes
Though he has slipped from atop his perch as the longtime No. 1 fighter in the division, Matt Hughes’ career accomplishments cannot be denied. He has been one of the most dominant champions in the history of the UFC. Despite losing to St. Pierre and Penn, Hughes also claims victories over both, as well as Sherk, Trigg, Royce Gracie, Hayato “Mach” Sakurai, and many more than this space allows. He has accomplished a 41-6 professional record, including 15 of those wins in the Octagon, in a span that dates back to pre-Zuffa UFC days.
5. Josh Koscheck
Emerging from The Ultimate Fighter – he had just two bouts to his credit before the reality series – Koscheck is one of the most successful fighters to make his UFC debut via the television show. Primarily a wrestler when he showed up on Spike TV, the American Kickboxing Academy trained fighter is one of the most athletically gifted fighters in the division and has proven to be a quick study. He has steadily added a strong striking game and submission defense to his arsenal on his way to a 10-2 record, including wins over Sanchez, Dustin Hazelett, Jeff Joslin and Jonathan Goulet. His only losses have come to the No. 1 ranked St. Pierre and veteran fighter Drew Fickett.
6. Karo Parisyan
Parisyan, like Fitch, is a fighter that could argue for a shot at a championship amidst this crowded division. With an overall record of 18-4 and having won eight of his past 10 bouts, he is on a three-fight winning streak since dropping a decision to Sanchez that derailed him from his bullet train to the title. He had been on a five-fight streak prior to that loss. His only other losses were to Georges St. Pierre and twice to Sherk.
7. Jake Shields
Amassing a 20-4-1 record and a nine-fight winning streak has put Shields among the throng of welterweights fighting to be recognized as the best. He long relied on his strong wrestling base to ground out decisions over his opponents, but has finished all of his five most recent opponents in an attempt to display his improving skills. Shields holds wins over the likes of former UFC middleweight champion Dave Menne, Yushin Okami, and current World Extreme Cagefighting champion Carlos Condit.
8. Diego Sanchez
Despite being relatively unknown to fight fans nationally prior to winning the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter, Sanchez was already an accomplished fighter with a spotless 11-0 professional record and the King of the Cage championship. He went on to win six straight bouts in the UFC before suffering back-to-back losses to AKA teammates Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck. He has since rebounded at UFC 82 with a win over Octagon debutant David Bielkheden.
9. Carlos Condit
Riding a seven-fight winning streak and holding a 22-4 professional record, Condit emerged in the spotlight when he surprised many onlookers by defeating Renato Verissimo and Frank Trigg in a Rumble On The Rock 175-pound tournament before losing a close decision in the finals to Shields. He was in line for a title shot in Japan’s Pancrase organization before moving to the WEC and taking its welterweight championship in only his second bout for the organization. He has defended the belt twice and currently is awaiting his next bout.
10. Marcus Davis
Another fighter that has made his way to the spotlight via The Ultimate Fighter, Davis lost in the finale of season two, but has since racked up 11-straight victories. A former professional boxer, he has also added a strong submission game as witnessed by tapping out six of his11 most recent opponents with holds ranging from armbar to guillotine choke to Achilles lock.