Controversial Start to 2016

ufc-195The era of the dominant champion officially came to an end in 2015 with more championships changing hands and Demetrious Johnson left as the only long-reigning champion.

The fall of these dominant champions began a few years ago though when the two more dominant champions in UFC history lost their titles.

Anderson Silva lost his in one of the biggest surprises in UFC history and then lost a rematch against Chris Weidman to begin a big fall that will end later this year in his return.

Then there was Georges St. Pierre who barely beat Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 and then decided to walk away from the sport.

His semi-retirement, he is contemplating a return in 2016, caused a big gap in the welterweight division which is a theme among divisions dominated by one champion.

During that time every challenger has lost to the champion and there are few left especially in the case of champions like Silva and St. Pierre.

Those champions essentially cleaned out a division with every good challenger losing multiple times and nobody left to give the champion a real test.

So when the title gets vacated something strange happens as every challenger becomes an option but it is hard to determine who deserves a shot and who doesn’t.

After all they were all good enough to rise to the top of the division but they were all not good enough to be a champion.

The rankings get thrown out more often than not and any top five fighter in the division could get a chance.

Meanwhile all the other fighters are forced to take fights that might not match up well with the title schedule and they may be passed over multiple times as a result.

In the welterweight division that confusion over the true contenders continues into the new year as it all started with a vacated title fight.

That fight saw Johny Hendricks take the title against Robbie Lawler but a rematch had Lawler take the title from Hendricks.

Usually that means a third fight but a title fight had already been promised and taken away from Rory MacDonald and he was promised the winner of the rematch.

MacDonald got his shot and lost against Lawler and once again most assumed that Hendricks was going to get his rematch to earn the title back.

Instead it was Carlos Condit, currently ranked #4 in the division that got a shot at the title for the first time since losing to GSP.

The fight was cancelled briefly when Lawler hurt his thumb but it was rescheduled for the opening fight of 2016 as Lawler looked to take out another challenger and Condit tried to finally get the title.

There is still not a lot of stability in the division but Lawler is beginning to bring it back after two title fights and one defence.

Against Condit he looked to get his second title defence and truly start building a championship run while solidifying the division.

To do that he needed to continue to take out contenders and Condit is surely one of them as even his St. Pierre loss didn’t keep him out of the top of the

Both fighters came into the division with a great ability to strike but in slightly different ways.

Lawler had the power that can come with one punch while Condit, although a powerful striker, came in with a much more technical type of striking.

Condit did have the slightly better ground game coming into the fight with more submissions than Lawler and his best bet might have been to take the fight to the mat.

That wasn’t the plan for Condit though as he preferred the stand-up game over trying to test Lawler’s takedown defence.

The fight expressed the differences in the two fighters and their stand-up games with Lawler looking to unload a barrage of shots and Condit trying to put together sharp combinations.

The fight was a back and forth affair with both fighters having their moments but as the fight progressed the output of the challenger seemed to be getting him closer to taking the belt.

Lawler had plenty of great moments in the fight and in the last round he seemed to be breaking the will of Condit.

The fight ended with both fighters exhausted and grabbing the fence with Condit looking closer to the winner with the output he had throughout every round.

When the decision came it that wasn’t the case though as judges were split on the winner and in the end it was Lawler who retained the belt.

The decision did nothing to settle the welterweight division title race as Condit seemed like he won the title but didn’t get the decision.

With Hendricks waiting for his shot at Lawler and now Condit looking for a rematch with such a controversial decision the back log is only going to get worse.

Hendricks deserves his shot while Condit does as well but according to Dana White after the fight Condit was talking of retiring making the welterweight division just that much more complicated.



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