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2011 Year End Report: The Welterweight Division

| December 23, 2011 | Reply

The welterweight division has long been the middle road of MMA; three divisions before it and three after it. A weight class that has given fans and the sport, legends, epic battles and examples of what training, dedication and tenacity can do for an individual. When those skills become so dominant you get the current UFC welterweight champion GSP* who has held the belt since April 2008.

Here are the best and worst of the 2011 welterweights, and who we will miss as they have hung up the gloves for good.

*Georges St. Pierre is considered by many as one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world and right now, the greatest welterweight – however, due to his one fight this year and injury, he is not included on this list.


Nick Diaz (26-7-1) Brash, rude, not willing to play the game – all these things have followed the name Nick Diaz but this time next year, UFC welterweight champion could very well be his new moniker. Vacating a Strikeforce WW title he held for two years (successfully defending three times) he came back into the UFC for a chance at GSP. Issues and injuries prevented this bout and he was given fellow BJJ wizard, BJ Penn; fans were given a clinic on how technical boxing and attitude will dictate any MMA fight. The end result was a battered, retiring Penn and a fired up Diaz, who called out the champ post fight.

Diaz is scheduled to meet Carlos Condit at UFC 143 for an interim title as St. Pierre recovers.

Jake Ellenberger (26-5) Regardless if you think he deserves this spot on the list or not,  Ellenberger fought and won all three times, including the quick dispatch of highly ranked Jake Shields, in a year that saw many of the division elite out on injury or other reasons. Now awaiting Ellenberger is a matchup with TUF 1 winner, Diego Sanchez, a win for “The Juggernaut” would elevate him into the top five of the division and a title shot looming in the near future.


Jake Shields (26-6-1) Undefeated for over six years, many of those times defending championships he amassed on his way to the UFC octagon, Shields challenged GSP at UFC 129 and fans were given a let down. After five rounds, GSP retained the belt and defeated a man who was said to be the biggest threat to ever come along for “Rush.” This past summer, Shields lost his manager and father, Jack Shields but stayed in his bout against Jake Ellenberger in New Orleans, a decision that saw him receive a TKO loss in the opening minute of their fight.

Looking for one more dance at UFC 144 in Japan, Shields has his back against the wall for his first time in a career that has been filled with wins and championships. Hopefully his camp and friends have motivated the Cesar Gracie fighter to turn the tide and get back into title contention.

Dan Hardy (23-10) Not having won since his title fight with GSP in 2010, it almost appears that part of his soul left him and stayed in New Jersey after the title fight. Losing to Anthony Johnson after being smothered for fifteen minutes in March of this year, than deciding to get into a boxing match with Chris Lytle in his last professional bout, Hardy was finished with a guillotine by “Lights Out” after being beaten on the feet for three rounds.

Stating that he needs time off to focus on things and get back into fighting, he has even gone so much to reach out to past adversaries like GSP to train with to help resolve his personal flaws. Looking to come back in 2012, “The Outlaw” has moved training stateside permanently and could very well have his hands raised again in his next performance.


Chris Lytle – Never being able to win the UFC title, he won more post fight performance bonuses than any other man to step inside the octagon and was loved by fans worldwide. Leaving the sport he loves to pursue family time and a political career in his Indiana home state, Chris Lytle was the definition of a fighter and ambassador.

BJ Penn – “The Prodigy” has been figured out, men have been able to devise strategies to defeat the Hilo, HI native who was at one time unstoppable. Tired of losing and in ways that sent him home bruised to his family and daughters, Penn said immediately after his loss to Nick Diaz he was done. Going back now to say that some of the words were emotion, he knows that if he wants to pursue this seriously anymore, he will need to take time off to regroup and attack better or call it off altogether.

MMA Valor will continue the year-end reports up to the heavyweight division, if you missed the lightweight division you can read it here.

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Tags: BJ Penn, Chris Lytle, Dan Hardy, Georges St. Pierre, Jake Ellenberger, Jake Shields, Mixed Martial Arts, MMA, Nick Diaz, Strikeforce, UFC, UFC 141, UFC 143, UFC 144, Welterweights

Category: Exclusive, Featured, MMA, Strikeforce, UFC

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