The UFC Welterweight division ranks among the most storied divisions in the company's (and sport's) history. Pat Miletich became the first-ever UFC Welterweight Champion after defeating Mikey Burnett in UFC Brazil in 1998.
He made 4 title defences before losing the title, but since then, the lineage has been filled with nothing but prestige, featuring some of the all-time greats as champions, including Matt Hughes, Georges St. Pierre, Robbie Lawler, Johny Hendricks, and more.
More than anything, the 170lb division has been home to the most talented pound-for-pound fighters in the world, and looking back at the UFC timeline, there's likely no division that was more consistently stacked with talent than the Welterweight division.
Today, the competition has evolved and grown, but as you can imagine, the immense pool of talent has led to some of the greatest championship bouts in UFC history (and one being considered the greatest fight in UFC history, period. But more on that later).
Let's take a look at the very best title fights from the 170-pound division!
#5 Matt Hughes (c) vs BJ Penn - UFC 46
BJ Penn, a known Lightweight had made an abrupt departure from UFC to K-1 in 2003. He would make a quick return to the UFC and it would be in the form of a title fight, one division higher than what he used to fight.
He made his welterweight debut and took on Matt Hughes for the Welterweight Championship. Many consider this a big upset, as Hughes was on a 5-fight win streak prior to the Penn fight.
Unfortunately for Hughes, he would suffer a first-round defeat to Penn after giving his back and allowing Penn to choke him out. It was a magical moment for The Prodigy as he captured his first title. A contract dispute would lead him out of the UFC and back to K-1 again, but he did compete with Hughes later on, with Hughes picking up a revenge win and Penn winning their third bout in an incredible trilogy.
#4 Matt Hughes (c) vs George St. Pierre - UFC 65
GSP idolized Matt Hughes, and took him on for the first time in UFC 50, with the vacant Welterweight Championship on the line. Hughes won the first encounter in the first round by submission, and it took two more years for GSP to earn his way back to a title shot against Hughes.
Two years later at UFC 65, GSP faced Hughes, still the champion. However, this was a very different GSP, and his growth as a fighter was evident. This time, he knocked out Hughes in the second round, winning the Welterweight title for the first time.
They would meet in a trilogy for the interim Welterweight title over a year later, and GSP won, coming out of the trilogy victorious.
#3 George St. Pierre (c) vs Johny Hendricks - UFC 167
This fight was every bit controversial, but it was also equally epic. The fight was GSP's 9th title defence and went the distance, with the bout being one of the rare occasions where St. Pierre was completely outclassed.
This was what led to major shock when the judges scored a controversial split decision favouring GSP. Fans and everyone else were certain that Johny Hendricks had been robbed. Dana White himself disagreed with the decision, and St. Pierre hung up his boots not long after, returning only in 2017.
#2 Robbie Lawler (c) vs Carlos Condit - UFC 195
This fight is the very definition of a war. Robbie Lawler's second title defence came against "The Natural Born Killer" Carlos Condit, who was a former interim champion in his own right. This match was a brutal affair, turning out into an all-out brawl between the two. It seemed like Condit had it in the bag, but Lawler dug deep and went swangin' and bangin' in the final round. This was deemed enough for Lawler to earn a split decision victory.
While many thought Condit had it in the bag, it seemed like Lawler just edged him out. The decision is debatable, but not controversial.
#1 Robbie Lawler (c) vs Rory MacDonald 2 - UFC 189
Lawler and MacDonald's first fight at UFC 167 ended in a split decision for Lawler. While their rematch was anticipated, no one knew that they were set to witness the greatest fight in UFC history.
You read that right. It's hard to deny that Lawler vs MacDonald 2 ranks among the greatest fights in UFC history. It was a war between two men who slugged it out for a whopping 21 minutes. Both of their faces were bloodied. MacDonald's nose was broken and Lawler's lip was horribly cut.
The two men gave everything that they had and the crowd loved every second of it. Dana White himself went to comfort MacDonald after the match, assuring him that it was one of the craziest things he had ever seen. Lawler seemed to have just wanted it more, as he broke MacDonald's nose and finished him in the first minute of the fifth round. If there's one word to describe this fight, it's unforgettable.
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