Georges St. Pierre has a full dance card for the next six months, but the reigning UFC champion remains one of the best fighters in the sport for the time being.
1. Georges St. Pierre
Matt Brown: He’s not only the number one fighter in this weight class, but he’s arguably the number one pound for pound fighter in the world. I think Josh Koscheck gives him his toughest fight in a couple of years, but GSP retains the gold.
Jeremy Botter: I don’t see St. Pierre having much difficulty with Koscheck, but I do see him struggling with Jake Shields. We won’t see the Shields we saw at UFC 121 again, and a top-form Shields can give St. Pierre a real run for his money.
2. Jon Fitch
Matt Brown: I know many would expect Jake Shields to be here, but until I see a better Shields at welterweight, this spot belongs to Fitch. All he’s done is beaten everyone on the UFC roster not named St. Pierre. That’s good enough for me.
Jeremy Botter: Fitch isn’t the number one contender, but he probably should be. Sadly, he suffers from his inability to have anything but a boring fight. Fitch chooses sport over excitement at all costs, and that’s ultimately keeping him from another crack at the belt.
3. Jake Shields
Matt Brown: Welcome to the UFC Mr. Shields. Martin Kampmann was no easy chore for Shields and the 20 pound weight cut didn’t help either. I imagine we’ll see a much stronger Jake Shields when he battles the winner of GSP and Koscheck.
Jeremy Botter: Shields won’t be cutting twenty pounds in one day when he faces off against St. Pierre in 2011, which means we shouldn’t see the kind of performance he turned in against Martin Kampmann ever again. At least I hope not.
4. Josh Koscheck
Matt Brown: I’m of the belief that Koscheck has a chance in his battle with GSP. He’s a strong wrestler and he’s had ample time to gameplan for the fight. He’s from the same camp as Cain Velasquez and winning is contagious.
Jeremy Botter: Koscheck’s star turn on The Ultimate Fighter has been a good one, but his real moment in the sun comes in December when he has the chance to play the ultimate bad boy in St. Pierre’s home country. It should be an epic moment.
5. Thiago Alves
Matt Brown: People are growing tired of Alves missing weight for big fights. He’ll get one more shot at welterweight in December against John Howard. One can only assume that a bad performance here and the UFC would demand a move up to 185.
Jeremy Botter: Alves is running on fumes in the welterweight division. I’m surprised they’re even giving him another shot, to be honest, but if anybody can get Alves on track in the weight department, it’s uber-guru Mike Dolce.
Matt Brown: KO of the Year? Possibly. His knockout against Dan Hardy was a thing of beauty and showed the world that Condit is indeed a force to be reckoned with in the UFC welterweight division. The move to Greg Jackson’s started off swimmingly.
Jeremy Botter: Condit’s stunning knockout of Hardy and his willingness to fight teammate Georges St. Pierre may land him in the title picture much sooner than anybody expected. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Condit paired up with Jon Fitch in a title eliminator bout early in 2011.
7. Martin Kampmann
Matt Brown: Kampmann “won” about as much as you can in a loss. Fans got to see just how tough and gritty this guy is when he took pound for pound great Jake Shields to decision. Some even claim he won the fight.
Jeremy Botter: I believe Kampmann beat Shields at UFC 121, but he didn’t overwhelm him. He’ll get another top fighter next.
8. Nick Diaz
Matt Brown: When Jake Shields came over, he said he hopes to see Nick Diaz and Gilbert Melendez in the UFC soon. Me too. That being said, there’s a couple of cool fights left in Strikeforce for the man from 209.
Jeremy Botter: The only fight anybody truly cares about for Diaz in Strikeforce is the one he won’t take: Jason “Mayhem” Miller.
9. Dan Hardy
Matt Brown: He’s going to make highlight reels for many years to come. Only problem…he’s on the receiving end of a giant left hook from Carlos Condit. Hardy is great on the mic and a big part of the UFC’s continuing push into the UK. He’ll be back strong.
Jeremy Botter: Hardy’s unfortunate KO won’t set him back in the eyes of the fans. After all, sometimes “you just get caught,” and that’s exactly what happened to Hardy. They both threw punches and Condit’s landed first. It happens.
10. Mike Pyle
Matt Brown: Pyle squeaks onto the list after a dominating performance over previously ranked John Hathaway. Pyle showed good stand up and amazing control on the ground to end the young Brits unbeaten streak.
Jeremy Botter: Pyle was supremely impressive in dominating every facet of his fight with Hathaway. It will be interesting to see who he’s matched up with next. He does hold a win over Jon Fitch, after all.