Georges St-Pierre: How the Welterweight Division Has Changed in His Absence

Andrew SaundersCorrespondent IISeptember 27, 2012

Oct. 29, 2011; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Georges St-Pierre at UFC 137 at the Mandalay Bay event center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

On November 17, Johny Hendricks and Martin Kampmann will battle in a title eliminator for the UFC welterweight championship. However, the last time that the belt was defended, neither man was ranked in the division's Top 10.

In May of 2011, Georges St-Pierre had successfully vanquished Jake Shields on the biggest live event in UFC history. Their battle at UFC 129 wasn't exactly the epic collision that some anticipated, but it once again established that GSP is the best welterweight in the world.

Let's take a look at the welterweight division after UFC 129:

  1. Georges St-Pierre
  2. Jon Fitch
  3. Jake Shields
  4. Thiago Alves
  5. Josh Koscheck
  6. Nick Diaz
  7. B.J. Penn
  8. Carlos Condit
  9. Diego Sanchez
  10. Paul Daley

In the past 16 months, Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez have moved to different weight classes, while losses have knocked Thiago Alves, B.J. Penn and Paul Daley from their place in the list.

Technically, GSP is ineligible from the rankings due to his period of inactivity, but, for the sake of fairness, I have placed him atop the current list. I don't think anyone will argue that he deserves it.

  1. Georges St-Pierre
  2. Carlos Condit
  3. Johny Hendricks
  4. Martin Kampmann
  5. Nick Diaz
  6. Jake Ellenberger
  7. Josh Koscheck
  8. Jon Fitch
  9. Nate Marquardt
  10. Rory MacDonald

When St-Pierre returns, he will come back to a welterweight landscape that barely resembles the one that he once knew. While some would say that the champ's absence has caused a crisis at 170 pounds, I would make the argument that it helped to revitalize it.

New contenders like Condit, Hendricks, Kampmann, Ellenberger and MacDonald have emerged. Nick Diaz has moved to the UFC roster and will return early next year. Nate Marquardt has made an important drop to welterweight and will join the UFC once Strikeforce inevitably collapses in on itself.

It may not be the best time for business in the UFC, but, for fans of the welterweight division, things have never been more exciting.