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UFC Welterweight Division: Results, Ranking, History, Fighters to Watch

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UFC Welterweight Division: Results, Ranking, History, Fighters to Watch

The UFC welterweight division has some of the best fighters the sport has ever seen. Fighters like Leon Edwards, Bilal Muhammed and Kamaru Usman have defined the weight class and made it what it is today. There are multiple rising fighters in this division, showing off why they are a part of the UFC now.

This article will focus on everything related to the UFC welterweight division. This includes the current rankings of fighters, rising competitors, the history of the weight division, its current champion and much more.

UFC Welterweight Division Explained

The UFC welterweight division (156-170 lbs) is the most stacked division in UFC right now. With some of the most significant rising fighters, we have seen in the past few years. As the lightweight division recently started losing steam following the retirement of Khabib Nurmagomedov, the welterweight division has been garnering some serious heat.

The division’s most significant prospect used to be Khamzat Chimaey, who was winning fight after fight. Following his move to the middleweight division, multiple new fighters fought to take up their places in the top rankings.

Leon “Rocky” Edwards, the current champion of the division, is by far one of the best fighters we have seen in the division. With his record of 22-3 and a winning streak of four, the champ is an unstoppable force to be reckoned with. Rocky is so in tune with his craft that it seems like no one in the division is a challenge for him at the moment, despite some rising stars making their way to the top.

Speaking of these rising stars, Shavkat Rakhmonov is here to show why he deserves to be a UFC competitor. The man has been advancing the ranks since his debut and sits comfortably in the number three position. The man has an 18-win streak and a record of 18-0.

Recent Welterweight Results

The welterweight division has had some outstanding matches in the recent past. Here are a few that have taken place recently”

  • Leon Edwards vs Colby Covington – After a lot of bad-mouthing from Colby, he still could not stand up to the force that is Leon Edwards.
  • Shavkat Rakhmonov vs Stephen Thompson – Shavkat showed the world why he is such a formidable fighter, making Stephen Thompson submit in a little over four minutes

The two fights took place in UFC 296. Each fight was a spectacle to be seen as each winner showed why they are the best at what they do.

Upcoming Welterweight Fights

No fights have been scheduled at the time of writing.

Who is the Current Welterweight Champion?

Leon Edwards, popularly known as Rocky, is an accomplished mixed martial artist who currently holds the Welterweight Championship title in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He made history by becoming the first Jamaican-born UFC fighter to win a championship in the organization. His remarkable achievement came in August 2022 at UFC 278 after a thrilling victory over Kamaru Usman, who had an impressive undefeated 15-win streak. 

Rocky's performance on the night was nothing short of spectacular and earned him the coveted Performance of the Night award. Since then, he has remained undefeated and successfully defended his championship multiple times, including a recent victory against Colby Covington. Rocky's incredible skills and determination have made him one of the most exciting fighters to watch in the UFC.

UFC welterweight division

Photo Credit: PA Images / Icon Sport

UFC Welterweight Rankings in 2024

Here are the top fighters in the welterweight division in 2024. These fighters are the cream of the crop and some have risen the ranks very fast.

Champion: Leon Edwards

  1. Kamaru Usman
  2. Belal Muhammad
  3. Shavkat Rakhmonov
  4. Gilbert Burns
  5. Colby Covington
  6. Ian Machado Garry
  7. Sean Brady
  8. Stephen Thompson
  9. Geoff Neal
  10. Vicente Luque
  11. Jack Della Maddalena
  12. Neil Magny
  13. Kevin Holland
  14. Michael Chiesa
  15. Rinat Fakhretdinov

The current ranking of the fighters really shows how far some of the newer fighters have come. While Leon is still the defending champion, there are multiple fighters that he should be wary of as they climb through the ranks for a shot at the championship.

Following the defeat against Leon, Colby Covington went from the number one in the class to the fifth best. He was overtaken by some exceptional fighters whom he deemed not a threat when he spoke of them in a video by UFC.

Shavat Rakhmonov quickly rose to the top three following win after win, continuing his impressive streak of wins. He is quickly turning into one of the best fighters in the industry. Additionally, Ian Machado Garry has secured the sixth spot in the rankings after jumping four places on the leaderboard. His record of 14-0-0 following his win in UFC 298 has taken him up the ranks.

Fighters to Watch in the UFC Welterweight Division

The welterweight division contains some of the best fighters in the UFC. We will be highlighting some of the best fighters that you should keep an eye on as they are on their way to achieving greatness.

Shavkat Rakhmonov

Rakhmonov absolutely dominated the stage in his debut fight against Alex Olivera. Ever since that fight, he has been showing off why he is a top competitor in the UFC. The man is not a loudmouth in a division filled with competitors continually trash-talking each other, as he does not speak a word of English. 

He has completely overcome this by showing off how strong he is, and his actions speak louder than any trash-talker ever could. His unbeaten streak of 18 wins speaks for itself, after all. He is also phenomenal in the art of submission, as most of his wins come from that.

Ian Machado Gary

Gary is another undefeated fighter in MMA with an impressive record of 14-0-0. He is notorious for packing a punch and has most of his wins from knocking out his opponents. The man also boasts 4 first-round finishes. Ian started fighting in 2019, and by 2021, he was already 7-0 unbeaten. 

Shortly after that, he joined the UFC and has been climbing the ranks ever since. He also has more fights than Shavkat in the UFC and is a very active fighter in the sport. With each match he is in, he has shown rapid improvement in both skill and speed. He also has the attitude of a strong fighter, as he is not afraid to speak his mind and is willing to take on the champ whenever he can.

Belal Muhammad

Belal Muhammad has racked up multiple wins over the years he has been fighting. With an impressive record of 23-3, he is the number two fighter in his division, just under the former champion Usman. Belal is one of the strongest fighters in UFC right now. However, despite his fantastic performance and consistent wins, he still has not gotten a shot at the title as of late. 

He also has a new threat approaching him in the form of Shavkat, who is threatening to take his number two position. We are excited to see him fight for the title and take on the rising star Shavkat.

History of the UFC Welterweight Division

The welterweight title in the UFC is a highly coveted championship in the world of mixed martial arts. It was first introduced in 1998 at UFC Brazil, where Pat Miletich won the inaugural Welterweight Championship title. Since then, the title has been held by some of the most prominent fighters in the history of the sport, including Carlos Newton, Matt Hughes, B.J. Penn, Georges-St Pierre, Matt Serra, Johny Hendricks, Robbie Lawler, and others.

It's worth noting that Georges-St Pierre (GSP) and Matt Hughes are the only two fighters who have held the Welterweight Championship title twice in UFC history. GSP, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time, had a remarkable reign as the Welterweight Champion, holding the title for a total of 2,204 days across two separate reigns.

At UFC 201, Tyron Woodley managed to defeat Robbie Lawler to win the Welterweight Championship. During his reign, which lasted from 2016 to 2019, Woodley successfully defended his title on multiple occasions against top contenders such as Stephen Thompson (twice), Demian Maia, and Darren Till. However, he lost the belt to Kamaru Usman at UFC 235 via unanimous decision.

Kamaru Usman, who took over the welterweight championship after defeating Tyron Woodley, defended his title against Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal at UFC 245 and UFC 251, respectively. During Usman's three-year reign, ‘The Nigerian Nightmare' successfully defended his title four times before losing to Leon Edwards at UFC 278. Usman was set to be a new world record holder if he won his fight against Leon. 

However, fate was not on his side as not only did he lose, he lost his 15-win streak. Usman had only lost once prior in his career. That loss was during his beginnings in the MMA scene. Usman was set to be the greatest welterweight fighter and Usman's reign as the Welterweight Champion is still regarded as one of the most dominant reigns in UFC history.

Following his victory over Kamaru Usman in their rematch at UFC 278 via knockout in the fifth round, Leon Edwards became the new UFC welterweight champion. He then successfully defended his belt against Kamaru Usman at UFC 286.

Leon winning the belt was a shock to all fans of the sport. Not only did he win Knock Out of the Night after his devastating kick flatlined the former champ, but he also won Performance of the Night. Leon, true to his nickname Rocky, was the underdog story that we all love to learn about.

Leon is an athlete known for his excellent striking skills and his ability to control the pace of the fight. He, however, had lost to Usman once prior and no one expected him to become the champion that night. Leon, despite the insurmountable odds, still became one of the greatest champions in UFC.

After defending his title against Kamaru, it was hypothesized that Khazmot Chimaey was going to take him on and take his championship. Khazmot was the rising prospect of the division then and all eyes were on him to take on Leon. Khazmat, however, had other plans. He left the Welterweight division near the end of 2023, shattering any hope of a title match.

Khazmot’s leave also began the start of a dry spell in the division. There were no fights scheduled or taking place after the second Leon and Usman fight. While there were rumours about a title match between Leon Edwards and Colby Covington, there was nothing concrete. Adding to that, the top five back then consisted of Usman, Belal Muhammad, Gilbert Burns and Shavkat Rakhmonov.

Among the top five, Gilbert, Shavkat and Usman were good friends and did not want to fight each other. Belal, despite deserving a shot at the title, also got no fights during this period.

Lean finally defended his title for a third time against Colby Covington at UFC 296. His reign as the Welterweight Champion is still ongoing, and many fans and experts believe that he has the potential to become one of the greatest fighters in UFC history.

That being said, multiple bouts also took place following UFC 296. New prospects like Ian Gary rose to the top six after showing off how skilled he is and continually improving. He took the place as the new loudmouth of the division, replacing Colby. Colby fell from grace after losing to Leon despite all his claims and went all the way down to the 5th place in the rankings.

Shavkat took on third place and is currently standing unbeaten with 18 wins under his belt. Fans want to see the young fighter take on Belal Muhammad, who has been in the 2nd position for a while now despite not seeing much action. People want to see Shavkat’s exhilarating style of fighting take on Belal’s slower, wrestiling like approach. 

Welterweight FAQs

Who is the Welterweight Champion?

Leon Edwards is the current Welterweight Champion.

What is the Weight Limit in Welterweight?

156-170 pounds.

Who is the Best Welterweight Fighter?

Shavkat Rakhmonov is currently the best fighter, with an 18-match winning streak.

Bren Gray is our resident Kiwi, and has been writing about sports since he could first string words together. He first fell in love with boxing when David Tua took on Lennox Lewis in 2000, and hasn't looked back since.