The division is in a stalemate, with no plans for the near future.
What is going on at Welterweight Right now?
The division has stalled since 2018 began, and there are no solid plans moving forward.
Not a single fighter in the top-10 is booked for a fight right now. There are a handful of injuries, but most of the fighters are free to fight. Kamaru Usman is the only fighter that’s had a fight in 2018, so other than him, the other fighters should all be free to fight.
The champion, Tyron Woodley, is coming off of shoulder surgery and will be on the mend for a bit. Even if he was healthy, there isn’t a clear runaway #1 contender for him to fight.
Stephen Thompson (#1) is also injured, according to Ariel Helwani. If Thompson was healthy, there’s no way they’d book a trilogy fight with him and Woodley.
Wonderboy is injured.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) March 21, 2018
Rafael dos Anjos (#2) is the most likely top contender, having just beaten Robbie Lawler. But he has no champ to fight, so what do you do with him? Well, reportedly the UFC is looking at booking an interim title fight between him and Colby Covington at UFC 224.
Colby Covington (#3) is in the same position as RDA. He’s new to the top of the rankings, and just beat a veteran of the division in Demian Maia. You can either put RDA and Covington against each other (as is reported for 224), or have them fight a lower ranked opponent.
Robbie Lawler (#4) is injured with an ACL injury and is out for the rest of 2018.
Demian Maia (#5) is free to fight, but he’s a prospect killer. Matching him up against a young up-and-comer could stop their momentum. Maia has also put on some dull performances recently. The UFC is likely in no rush to book him.
Jorge Masvidal (#6) is coming off a loss to Wonderboy, and would likely fight a guy ranked 10-15 to get back in the win column. Or he could fight the guy right below him in the rankings.
Darren Till (#7) is scheduled to fight in Liverpool, but doesn’t have an opponent. It’s odd that the UFC would book a fighter for a fight without an opponent, especially considering all of the free fighters in the division.
As mentioned before, Kamaru Usman (#8) fought in January, so he could get a pass. He has been rumored as Till’s opponent for the Liverpool card.
Neil Magny (#9) is just sitting in the wings at #9. He just beat Carlos Condit, but has two losses to Top 10 guys in RDA and Maia.
Santiago Ponzinibbio (#10) has won 6 straight fights at Welterweight. While that is impressive, he’s just one of many prospects on a hot streak in the Welterweight division. That’s the biggest problem with the Top 10 right now.
There are too many fighters that are on a hot streak, or considered “rising prospects” in the division. Covington, Till, Usman, and Ponzinibio can’t be match up or else it feels like the UFC is knocking off a potential prospect.
The veterans are injured (Woodley, Thompson and Lawler) and the highest ranked fighter who’s free to fight (RDA) is a former champion who likely has his eyes on the belt. Taking on a lower ranked prospect in a no win scenario for dos Anjos.
The welterweight division is in a stalemate right now. There are too many prospects that want to fight top talent, but not enough veteran, tough talent to fight them. The UFC will have to start putting some of these match ups together so that the division can progress while Woodley is on the sidelines.