It’s a pretty good time to be a player in both the UFC and Bellator welterweight divisions, but who exactly comes out on top when both rankings are combined?
Bellator 183’s co-main event between Paul Daley and Lorenz Larkin proved once again that times are good at 170lb in the world’s second-largest MMA promotion but even though their champion, Douglas Lima, has an opportunity to establish himself as one of the best on the planet when he takes on Rory MacDonald later this year, where exactly do their very best stack up against those found in the UFC?
10. Andrey Koreshkov
The former Bellator champ might not have the biggest name to be found on this list but his wins over current champ Lima and his absolute trouncing of Benson Henderson in the past prove that he is most certainly still among the very best fighters on the entire Bellator roster.
He did lose his title in stunning fashion in the rematch with Lima but there’s no doubting the fact that he is still a world-class fighter and a top ten welterweight.
9. Donald Cerrone
Sure, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone’s last two fights have ended in defeat for him but given his undeniable quality at 170lbs and his proven ability to finish any fight in spectacular fashion, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who wouldn’t at least sneak him into their list of the very best welterweights in the game right now.
8. Rafael dos Anjos
The former lightweight champion has been pretty impressive since making the switch to 170lbs and his last win – an absolute clinic on Neil Magny – proved that his skills have not failed to translate perfectly to his new home.
With a top five opponent now in his sights, do not be surprised to see RDA in the title picture sooner rather than later.
7. Rory MacDonald
Tristar’s Rory MacDonald may well be the biggest loss the UFC ever made when he decided to make the switch to Bellator. As one of MMA’s most intelligent and well-rounded athletes, MacDonald has it all.
Age, technique, a great physique for the division and some of the best minds in the game sparring in the gym with him every day in Georges St-Pierre and Firas Zahabi.
6. Jorge Masvidal
Masvidal is a killer, simply put. His recent loss to Demian Maia did little to throw his momentum off course and, for the most part, he earned himself some serious respect with the way he handled the BJJ-wizard’s assault, putting up a better fight than most others before him.
He faces Stephen Thompson at UFC 216 and could well make a serious statement about his title aspirations if he can pull off the win.
5. Douglas Lima
The current Bellator champ will attempt to upset the hotly-tipped Rory MacDonald when he tries to retain his title later this year but already his wins over Paul Daley, Andrey Koreshkov and most recently Lorenz Larkin have shown the world that he is completely deserving of his spot atop the highly-competitive welterweight pack.
4. Demian Maia
Maia’s grappling is probably the best we’ve ever seen inside the UFC octagon but in his first shot at welterweight gold earlier this year, his attack bordered on one-dimensional as the scarily-athletic Tyron Woodley managed to stuff every single takedown he attempted.
The sad thing is that a win over his next opponent Colby Covington might not even get his name back into the title picture due to the rather mundane fight his bout with Woodley turned out to be.
3. Stephen Thompson
Next up is quite possibly the most polished striker in MMA today, the aptly-named Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, who twice failed to steal away the welterweight strap from the current champ but, again, was someone who didn’t take much of a hit from his showing in either bout.
His kicks are the division’s most fluid by some distance and though a third go at the belt would be a bit much to ask right now, a strong performance against Jorge Masvidal could well re-introduce his name back into the mix.
2. Robbie Lawler
Robbie Lawler did a very good job at reminding the world exactly why he’s still a very relevant name in both the division and the UFC as a whole when he put on another brilliant fight with Donald Cerrone at UFC 214 and now could well be one the verge of getting a rematch with the man who so viciously knocked him out at UFC 201 in Tyron Woodley.
He’s already a legend in the eyes of the fighting world and another championship victory would cement him as one of the greats.
1. Tyron Woodley
The UFC’s champ is king. Tyron Woodley, for all his detractors, is one the best fighters in the world right now. Strong and fast, he possesses a truly-brilliant fight IQ and doesn’t appear to be fazed in the slightest by the pressure from the fans, who believe that his patient and methodical approach to the game results in boring fights.
Still though, Woodley’s reign has been a highly-successful one so far and he has every chance at staying in power for a very long time.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena