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Happy Sunday, fellow fight fans. With the official cancellation of UFC 249 this week, what a great time to review some of the more memorable Welterweight title fights in the UFC’s history. Thinking about which fights to include has reminded me about the rich history of the division. Matt Hughes ruled this division with an iron fist for years. He was considered by many to be the best fighter in the world during his prime. Then, GSP took the belt from him and went on to become perhaps the best fighter the sport has ever seen. So, if you’re just itching to find some high-quality fight action, check out these excellent welterweight championship matchups.
#5. Matt Hughes Vs. Frank Trigg UFC 52 (April 15, 2005, MGM Garden Arena)
This is one of the most memorable fights in UFC history. The lead up to the match was highly entertaining. Matt Hughes won the first fight via rear-naked choke, but that didn’t keep the brash Trigg from his trademark trash talk. Trigg’s mind games continued into the octagon faceoff where Trigg literally used his face to make contact with Matt Hughes’s face. Referee Mario Yamasaki sent each combatant to his respective corner where the mind games continued. Trigg blew kisses as Hughes during the introductions. This fight had it all. Trigg actually kneed Matt Hughes in the balls as the two men grappled early in the contest. Hughes made a near-fatal mistake in looking at the referee to stop the action. But this is Mario Yamasaki here so the fight continued. Trigg pounced on this opportunity and did all he could to finish this fight. However, Hughes would not be denied as he fought threw a rear-naked choke. Hughes proceeded to lift Trigg up over his head as he ran across the octagon, slamming his opponent to the ground. Hughes ended up finishing via rear-naked choke to retain his welterweight strap. This is probably the most action-packed one round fight you’ll find.
#4. BJ Penn Vs. Matt Hughes UFC 46 (January 31, 2004, Mandalay Bay Events Center)
Matt Hughes came into this fight brimming with confidence, and with good reason. Hughes was riding an impressive 13 fight winning streak and had just defended his belt for the record-setting 5th consecutive time. BJ Penn was moving up from the lightweight division. These were very different times for the UFC, and the lightweight division wasn’t fully established. During the prior year, Penn had failed to capture the lightweight championship against Caol Uno in the final match of the tournament that was set to crown the division champion. Hughes even commented on how disrespected he felt that Penn was challenging him despite not being able to capture gold at a lower weight class. This was Penn in his prime. BJ showed off his superior stand up as he was the much quicker fighter. Hughes was looking to wrestle, but this version of Penn had legendary takedown defense. They’d eventually end up on the ground as Hughes attempted something and ended up pulling guard. The fighters would grapple for the next few minutes before Penn landed a thunderous right hand that clearly hurt the defending champion. Penn would eventually finish a dazed Hughes and capture the welterweight title. This was a classic matchup of UFC pioneers and was a massive upset at the time.
#3. Georges St Pierre Vs. Matt Serra UFC 69 (April 6, 2007, Toyota Center)
Matt Serra came into this fight as a considerable underdog. The Ultimat Fighter (TUF) season 4 was called the comeback. This season of TUF involved a new format that would award the winner a title shot. All of the participants had to have previously fought in the UFC and were basically considered journeymen. GSP had just captured the title from Matt Hughes, who was considered the greatest welterweight in UFC history at the time. Serra looked supremely confident as the fight started. GSP was the more tremendous fighter and used his size and reach to land a few shots early in the early going. Serra showed great determination and no fear as he stood in the center of the octagon and showed his willingness to exchange. Serra was able to land a shot that dropped the champ. St Pierre did his best to fight through the damage, but his legs were gone. Serra finished St Pierre as he landed a few more blows and pulled off arguably the biggest upset in the history of the sport. Matt Serra’s reaction was great as he pointed to the belt as Dana White wrapped it around his waist. Serra didn’t hold the strap long, but this colossal upset validated his career cemented his name into the record books.
#2. Georges St. Pierre Vs. Nick Diaz UFC 158 (March 16, 2013, Bell Centre)
Nick Diaz had been vocal about wanting a matchup with GSP for years before this fight finally happened. The match was initially supposed to happen at UFC 137, but Diaz lost the opportunity to challenge for the title due to failing to show up at media events. Diaz was finally given his chance after taunting GSP into accepting the fight, which would come back to bite him in the backside later on. The press conference for this one was great, as Diaz claimed the UFC made him out to be the bad guy. He had been claiming GSP was afraid to fight him, and the back and forth here was just great entertainment. It didn’t take long to realize that the taunting tactics Diaz had used in the leadup were a disastrous mistake. GPS imposed his will and controlled Diaz for most of this one as he claimed a unanimous decision. Diaz continued to live in his own little world after this fight. He went so far as to accuse GSP of being on steroids and said he knew Georges didn’t get drug tested before this fight because he didn’t. I don’t love nor hate the Diaz brothers, but they always make for great fun.
#1. Robbie Lawler Vs. Rory MacDonald UFC 189 (July 11, 2015, MGM Grand Garden Arena)
This is hands down the greatest Welterweight title fight in the history of the UFC. Robbie Lawler came in as the champion after defeating Johny Hendricks. Rory Macdonald had won three straight matches since losing his first matchup against Lawler, a fight many believed MacDonald had won. This fight was overshadowed by Conor Mcgregor’s fight against Chad Mendes, but it stole the show. These two warriors engaged in a gruesome battle. MacDonald appeared to be taking control of this fight as the 2nd round finished up. Lawler found his confidence in the third, and as the round ended, the bloody participants stared one another down. Lawler got more ferocious with each passing moment in this fight. The fourth round was another spectacular battle. Macdonald finally collapsed in the early going of the fifth round as his nose was shattered and his body couldn’t take any more damage. Both of these guys left everything they had in the cage, and this fight would be voted 2015’s fight of the year.
There you have it, 5 awesome welterweight title fights! Each of them is memorable to me for different reasons. I know you have time right now, so watch these fights and let me know what you think. Are there any fights anyone would include that I missed. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Have a great week fight fans! I’ll have more fight talk next week. Stay safe out there.