Thursday, June 30, 2022

Matchmaking The Top Of UFC’s Welterweight Division After UFC Vegas 21

In the main event of UFC Vegas 21, Leon Edwards was making his return against Belal Muhammad. The hope was the fight would add some clarity to the top of the crowded welterweight division, but that is far from the case.

Early on in the fight, Edwards was having a ton of success and landed a beautiful head kick that rocked Muhammad. Yet, in the second round, Edwards poked Muhammad in the eye and the fight was called off and ruled a no-contest.

Now, after the event, the top of the welterweight division is murky, but there are some clear matchups to make.

(C) Kamaru Usman vs (4) Jorge Masvidal

Kamaru Usman & Jorge Masvidal
Kamaru Usman & Jorge Masvidal (Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa)

Kamaru Usman is running out of options to fight at welterweight. Yet, the rematch with Jorge Masvidal will likely be next. After Usman scored a TKO win over Gilbert Burns he called out “Gamebred” for the rematch as he wants to finish Masvidal this time around.

Although the first fight wasn’t too competitive, perhaps Masvidal on a full camp will give him a shot at winning. The two will also likely be in line to coach The Ultimate Fighter to add some hype to the rematch which will likely take place this fall.

(1) Colby Covington vs (2) Gilbert Burns

Colby Covington has been holding out for a title shot. Yet, it’s very likely he won’t get the next shot.

Although Covington is the top-ranked welterweight, he needs another win to get a title shot, and beating Gilbert Burns would do just that. Both of them lost to Usman by TKO and are both looking to earn the rematch with the champ.

Having Covington and Burns fight makes too much sense. It is also an easy Fight Night main event and can take place this summer. If Covington wins, it’s likely he would get his desired title shot. For Burns, it would be another statement win and put him back on track to fight Usman again.

(3) Leon Edwards vs (5) Stephen Thompson

Leon Edwards wants
Image Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Leon Edwards called for a title shot after his no-contest with Belal Muhammad, but he is likely behind Masvidal, Covington, and Stephen Thompson to earn a title shot.

Although some may think a rematch between Edwards and Muhammad should happen, the Englishman deserves to fight a top-five opponent. For Thompson, this is a fight he has called for. It is also a chance for him to earn another title shot.

Edwards vs Thompson is a fight that should’ve happened months ago. However, Edwards turned it down in hopes for a title shot. Now, with his title shot aspirations likely gone, the fight should happen now. The scrap can also headline a card this summer. If Covington-Burns happens this summer as well, it could come down to who has a better performance between the two winners as to who gets the next title shot.

(6) Michael Chiesa vs winner of (7) Tyron Woodley & (10) Vicente Luque

Michael Chiesa is the odd man out. Unfortunately for Chiesa, he won’t be getting a top-five opponent, but he still can get a big fight.

At UFC 260, Tyron Woodley is looking to snap his losing streak when he battles Vicente Luque. If Woodley wins, Chiesa gets a chance to beat a former world champion. It would also prove he is an elite welterweight contender. If it is Luque who gets his hand raised, a fight between Chiesa and Luque is an interesting clash of styles. It would be a welcomed addition to a pay-per-view card this spring/summer.

Regardless of who wins, the winner of Chiesa vs Woodley/Luque, would likely enter a number one contender fight sometime in early 2022.

How would you matchmake the welterweight division?

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