Who’s the REAL #1 Contender at Welterweight?

[singlepic id=546 w=320 h=240 float=left]In recent days, there have been comments made from both Georges St. Pierre’s and Johny Hendrick’s camp regarding the status of the #1 contender slot at welterweight. GSP’s head coach and trainer Firas Zahabi has said “Diaz is the guy who is the Strikeforce champion. He climbed up the ladder all the way. Johny deserves it very much, but Diaz has been there longer and done more fights and has bigger wins. If you want to be really fair about it, he is the guy who beat the most amount of names in the biggest fights.”

Hendrick’s nutrition consultant Mike Dolce quickly fired back by saying: “Nick hasn’t beaten anybody substantial in the welterweight division to earn that shot,” Dolce told MMAjunkie.com . “Nick certainly will be in line soon. He’s got to get a couple of wins. Johny’s got those wins already”

So I thought I’d chime in with a formula I developed to determine who should be the next #1 contender. The best formulas are simple formulas, so here’s how mine works. I’ve taken a look at the last 6 fights both Nick Diaz and Johny Hendricks have been involved in. 3 points being awarded for a victory over a top 3 fighter. 2 points for a victory over a top 10 fighter and 1 point for a victory over a fighter not ranked in the top 10. Furthermore, 1 point deducted for a loss to a top 3 fighter, 2 points deducted for a loss to a top 10 fighter and finally a 3 point deduction for a loss to a fighter not ranked in the top 10.

So lets take a look at the results.

Nick Diaz:  Carlos Condit (L) -1, BJ Penn (W) +2, Paul Daley (W) +2, Evangelista Santos (W) +1, KJ Noons (W) +1, Hayato Sakurai (W) +1 = 6 Total points.

Johny Hendricks: Martin Kampmann (W) +3, Josh Koshcheck (W) +2, Jon Fitch (W) +2, Mike Pierce (W) +1, TJ Waldburger (W) +1, Rick Story (L) -3 = 6 Total points.

MMAJunkie’s Ben Fowlkes recently stated on his “Twitter Mailbag” (in response to a fan question): “Krypton seemed like a wacky planet, so maybe Firas Zahabi’s reasoning makes sense there. It also probably makes a lot of sense in the 209, which is not technically its own planet, though don’t tell them that. Here on Mother Earth, however? Yeah, it’s a tough sell”

Really Ben? It’s a tough sell pitting two of the best welterweights of all time against each other? It’s a tough sell having a fight between the current UFC champion and the former Strikeforce champion who never officially lost his belt? It’s a tough sell delivering a fight between two arch rivals with personal history in the main event for the undisputed championship of the world?

As the UFC tries to increase television and pay-per-view ratings after the “year of the injury bug”, high profile/big money fights will be a solid strategy moving forward. I’m not arguing that Johny Hendricks doesn’t deserve a shot. Based on my formula both he and Diaz are actually tied as #1 contenders. I am saying from a business perspective, you have to be on another planet yourself not to give validity to a GSP vs. Nick Diaz title fight. The casual UFC fan and GSP supporter (those who don’t purchase UFC PPV’s unless GSP is fighting) only know of Hendricks from his last victory over Kampmann. The hardcare UFC fan knows that Hendricks is certainly deserving of his title shot. However, his uneventful and lackluster loss to Rick Story less than two years ago isn’t that far of a distant memory.

Final verdict: From simply a sporting perspective, both Diaz and Hendricks equally deserve the #1 contender slot. From an entertainment and hype perspective, there’s no doubt GSP vs. Diaz makes the most sense. This could all be for nothing however if the biggest superfight in the history of the UFC comes to fruition in Georges St. Pierre vs. Anderson Silva. In that case, let’s have an official #1 contender’s fight with Diaz vs. Hendricks so we can end this debate for good.

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