The 10 best welterweight fights in UFC history

December 14, 2016 12:53 pm by Tom Taylor

ufc interim welterweight champion

This Saturday, the UFC will touch down in sun-soaked Sacramento, California with UFC on Fox 22. One of the many highlights of this card is a welterweight scrap between bona fide excitement generators “Platinum” Mike Perry and Alan Jouban. Given the propensity for violence shared by these two fighters, many fans consider their imminent scrap a contender for Fight of the Night honors. In fact, it seems to have all the ingredients required to go down as an absolute classic.

In anticipation of this compelling welterweight war, we’ve decided to compile a list of our 10 favorite welterweight fights in UFC history. Without further ado, here are they are!

Click next to start with number 10.

10. Chris Lytle vs. Dan Hardy

Chris Lytle and Dan Hardy are both loved for their fan friendly fighting styles. So, when they were paired together in 2011, fans immediately expected an exciting fight. Given that this contest marked the last fight of Lytle’s career, and Hardy’s opportunity to bounce back from a three-fight losing streak, the chances of these two killers fighting with absolute fervor seemed even more likely.

In the end, that’s exactly what happened, as Lytle and Hardy pelted each other with bombs for two and a half rounds, until Hardy wound up in a guillotine choke after an ill-advised takedown late in the third. Their could have been no better swan song for the retiring Lytle.

9. Jon Fitch vs. Erick Silva 

Fitch Silva

When Jon Fitch entered his 2012 fight with rising Brazilian prospect Erick Silva, he had never really been known as an exciting fighter. Instead, he was often criticized for his smothering, wrestling-based attack. In his fight with Silva, however, Fitch showed that he is absolutely capable of delivering a thrilling fight.

For three hectic rounds, he and the Brazilian swapped submission attempts ranging from rear-naked chokes to arm bars in a fight that left grappling enthusiasts with their jaws on the floor. In the end, Fitch walked away with a hard fought unanimous decision win, and both he and Silva would receive Fight of the Night bonuses.

8. Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson

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The most recent fight on this list occured back in November, when Tyron Woodley attempted to defend the UFC welterweight title against Stephen Thompson in the co-main event of UFC 205. Any fan who hasn’t been living under a rock will remember this riveting battle.

Over the course of this wild, welterweight war, Woodley nearly finished Thompson on several occasions, both with his Octagon shaking power punches and a tight submission attempt. When Woodley wasn’t pushing Thompson to the brink, however, he was being soundly outworked by his rangy foe. The end result then, was an extremely close fight, which resulted in a majority draw. With this result, Woodley retained his title – though not in the fashion he’d hoped. He and Thompson are likely to rematch sometime in the near future – possibly at UFC 209 in Las Vegas

7. Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler 1 

In late 2013, welterweight great Georges St-Pierre narrowly defeated Johny Hendricks to defend the UFC welterweight title. Shortly after the bout, St-Pierre announced that he would be taking an indefinite hiatus from competition, and vacating the welterweight title as a result.

Early the following year, the UFC pitted Hendricks and Robbie Lawler against each other to fill the vacant welterweight throne. Though Hendricks was identified as a sizeable betting favorite in advance of this fight, it ended up being a wildly competitive, tooth-and-nail battle.

After five rounds of bedlam, Hendricks would walk away with the UFC welterweight belt. Unfortunately for him, he would then surrender the title to Lawler in his first defense as champion.

6. Georges St-Pierre vs. BJ Penn 1 

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Long before Georges St-Pierre and BJ Penn had established themselves as two of the greatest fighters ever, they met in a welterweight bout at UFC 58: USA vs. Canada. The winner of the contest would earn the opportunity to face Matt Hughes for the welterweight title – a title Penn had already worn after an earlier defeat of Hughes.

For three rounds, the two future legends would exchange heavy artillery in an exciting striking battle. By the time the third fight ended, the judges had a very tough decision on their hands, but ultimately awarded a split decision to St-Pierre. In his subsequent bout with Hughes, St-Pierre would win the welterweight title – though he would then lose it to Matt Serra in one of the biggest upsets in MMA history.

5. Matt Brown vs. Erick Silva

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In late 2011, Matt Brown was submitted by Seth Baczynski. This loss moved him to a tough 1-4 in his last 5, and gave the impression that he was nearing the end of his career. Shockingly, Brown then embarked on a ridiculous, seven-fight win-streak.

The final fight of this streak saw him take on dangerous Brazilian prospect Erick Silva, who was known for his crafty grappling and rabid aggression. Though it didn’t come as a surprise to fans that new anything about Brown and Silva, the two welterweights produced an absolute classic. In the end, however, Brown was able to weather several scares from Silva to dig deep and clobber him to a third-round TKO.

Regrettably, Brown would then lose his next fight to Robbie Lawler, marking the end of his unforgettable streak.

4. Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg 2

This fight is the personal favorite of UFC President Dana White, so we’ll defer to him for a rundown of it:

“Matt Hughes vs. [Frank] Trigg 2 is my favorite fight ever,” he said of this welterweight thriller. “When I say my favorite fight ever I mean MMA, boxing, pea-knuckle, I don’t care what you’re talking about, it’s my favorite fight.”

“[In the fight] Trigg actually kicks Matt in the nuts, and the ref doesn’t see it,” he continued. “Then, Trigg gets a rear-naked choke, and Matt Hughes had said some stuff about Trigg like ‘who gets rear-naked choked in a fight? You have to be a white belt to get rear-naked choked.’ And now Matt’s getting rear-naked choked, so it looks like the fight’s over again. I dunno how he did it, from laying on the ground, picks Trigg up over his head, on his shoulder, and literally runs the entire distance of the Octagon. 17,000 people jumped out of their seats at the same time, and the roof came off that building.”

“The greatest fight I have ever seen, ever been to, ever. It was my favorite fight ever.” 

3. Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz 2

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In early 2016, Nate Diaz shocked the world by submitting then featherweight champion Conor McGregor in a hastily-arranged welterweight bout. Given the streak with which McGregor entered this fight, and his status as the sport’s biggest star, he was immediately given a shot at redemption.

Though it was briefly scheduled to occur at UFC 200, this rematch would instead occur at UFC 202 – and it would be well worth the wait. The theme of this welterweight war between two beefed up lightweights was momentum swings. At one moment, it would look like McGregor was on the brink of a knockout win. The next, it would look like Diaz was a few punches shy of a knockout of his own.

In the end, of course, this war of attrition would go to McGregor, who would walk away with a majority decision win. Whether you agreed with this decision or not, however, the good news is that it will almost certainly set up a rubber match between the two MMA stars somewhere down the road.

2. Robbie Lawler vs. Carlos Condit 

It should come as no surprise that this January 2016 title fight is on the list, given that it starred two of the most exciting fighters in the history of the sport: Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit.

This fight was the definition of tooth-and-nail, as Lawler pelted Condit with the kind of power punches that could knock planets out of orbit, and Condit brutalized Lawler with a high-volume onslaught of knees, elbows and punches – even the kitchen sink.

Though many fans were under the impression that Condit had done enough to win, Lawler would ultimately walk away with a split decision win  – largely on the strength of a blood-crazed fifth round assault that left Condit teetering on the brink of consciousness.

1. Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald 2 

Could any other fight steal the number-one spot on this list? In our opinion, no.

Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald’s mid-2015 title fight, which was a rematch of an exciting 2013 bout, was not only one of the best welterweight fights ever, but one of the greatest fights ever period. For four and a half rounds, these two welterweights painted the Octagon floor red, pummelling each other to the outermost precipices of consciousness on more than one occasion.

Despite a strong effort from MacDonald, however, the fifth round saw Lawler do what he does best, unleashing the kind of violence that very few fighters can withstand. Mid-way through that final round, a punch to MacDonald’s already shattered nose forced an end to one of the most violent encounters in MMA history, and a successful defense for Lawler.


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