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The UFC welterweight rankings often include some of the most talented and popular fighters in the sport. From the legendary days of Georges St-Pierre reigning supreme as the king of Canada to the current era of “The Nigerian Nightmare,” the division is filled with some of the promotion’s most important talents.
With that in mind, here are the official Sportsnaut rankings for the top 10 170-pound fighters in the best cage fighting promotion on earth.
10. Ian Garry (13-0)
There is no faster-rising star at 170 pounds than Irish star Ian Machado Garry. The undefeated fighter has won his first six inside the Octagon and he continues to look better each time. In August, the 25-year-old scored his best win yet when dominated by top-15 stalwart Neil Magny. In December, he will get another stiff test when he faces teammate and fellow top-10 talent Vicente Luque.
9. Sean Brady (15-1)
Outside of Khamzat Chimaev, Sean Brady is the next great rising monster in the division. While he may not be quite as fearsome as the Russian, the Philadelphia native has stifling grappling skills that are an absolute handful and one of the biggest puzzles in the entire division.
However, Belal Muhammad was able to tame the young beast at UFC 280 and hand him his first loss by TKO. While it was certainly a setback, it was a major learning lesson for the fighter since it was a major step up in competition and a win-win scenario.
Injuries and fight cancellations have been a major problem for Brady in 2023, however, he is set to finally return to action on Dec. 2 in a big matchup with Kelvin Gastelum as he makes his return to 170 pounds.
8. Vicente Luque (22-8-1)
Vicente Luque has had an outstanding career in the UFC. Quietly, he has become one of the best welterweights on the planet as he has remained among the top 10 for several years. However, each time he has been on the cusp of serious title contention he has come up short. That happened once again in his UFC Vegas 51 main event defeat to Belal Muhammad in 2022.
Following that tough defeat, he finally returned to action in August and scored a workman-like victory over former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos at UFC Vegas 78. While it didn’t push him closer to contention it kept him firmly entrenched in the top 10.
At the end of the year he will serve as a rankings litmus test for rising welterweight star Ian Machado Garry when the two face off at UFC 296.
7. Colby Covington (17-3)
In beating Jorge Masvidal at UFC 272, Colby Covington earned revenge and vindication. He solidified his spot in the top three of the division and sent his former bestie to the back of the contention line forever. The question now is, does he want to face the best of the rest at welterweight and stay in the title picture, or use his popularity to make the most money he can now?
With him being out for over a year, he has been dropping on this list and could continue to fall in the UFC welterweight rankings until he books his next bout. Well, his fall will end for now as he is finally booked to return in a title matchup in December against Leon Edwards.
6. Stephen Thompson (17-6-1)
Stephen Thompson’s days as a serious title contender are done. However, he is still a skilled fighter deserving of high-level opposition and fights that would be featured bouts on future pay-per-view main cards. Or in the case of UFC Orlando, the main event of a Fight Night card.
Last year, “Wonderboy” showed that even at 39 he is still one of the most talented fighters in the division and an absolute handful on the feet. In his win over the always-tough Kevin Holland, Thompson displayed he is also just as tough as he is technically gifted.
He will get another chance to prove his worth as a title contender when he battles red-hot rising star Shavkat Rakhmonov at UFC 296.
5. Shavkat Rakhmonov (17-0)
If you weren’t a believer in Shavkat Rakhmonov as a legitimate top 10 welterweight before UFC 285, then those questions were likely dispelled after his submission victory over Geoff Neal at the event. The win moved “Nomad” to 17-0 overall with finishes in every fight (eight knockouts, nine submissions).
The 28-year-old also showed his inner fortitude and that he will not back away from elite-level resistance. A matchup against former middleweight title challenger Kelvin Gastelum was set for September, but unfortunately, Gastelum suffered an injury that knocked him out of the booking.
Instead, the young star will face former title challenger Stephen Thompson in a serious test of his striking and takedown capabilities.
4. Gilbert Burns (22-6)
Despite his loss to rising superstar Khamzat Chimaev, Gilbert Burns remained a world-class welterweight. With a need to win at least two fights to return to contender status, the Brazilian’s climb back to a title fight began again with a Jan. win against top-15 Neil Magny.
“Durinho” was rewarded for his efforts with a booking against Octagon superstar Jorge Masvidal. While he didn’t get the finish, he sent the Cuban into retirement definitively with a performance that pushed him up in our latest UFC welterweight rankings.
In his May follow-up with a long sought-after title shot on the line, he came up short to Belal Muhammad in a lackluster showing he will likely regret for years. In what might have been his last chance at a title fight.
3. Kamaru Usman (20-3)
For six straight years, Kamaru Usman set a legendary standard of excellence as he created a resume that will guarantee him a spot in the UFC Hall-of-Fame. He will go down as one of the greatest welterweight fighters of all time and one of the best pound-for-pound competitors of his era. However, all good things come to an end.
At UFC 294, “The Nigerian Nightmare” took a short-notice risk at middleweight and it did not pay off as rising star Khamzat Chimaev pushed his losing streak to three straight. Where the former welterweight king goes next at 36 is unclear.
2. Belal Muhammad (23-3)
You can no longer doubt the talents of Belal Muhammad. He has beaten high-level fighters like Demian Maia, Stephen Thompson, Vicente Luque, and Gilbert Burns. That, matched with his unbeaten streak is worthy of a title opportunity.
Hopefully, he finally lands that shot later this year after scoring his UFC 289 win over Burns in May. However, he may have to wait until later this year with UFC set on making Edwards versus Covington first.
1. Leon Edwards (21-3)
The UFC has its second-ever champion who fights out of the UK and the first Jamaican-born titlist. Edwards shook up the MMA world with his last-minute knockout of the best fighter of his generation, Kamaru Usman, at UFC 278.
At UFC 286 he got a chance to prove his win wasn’t a fluke after being beaten in most of the previous seven rounds the duo had. And he did exactly that with an improved wrestling game, smart strategy, and a well-placed cage grab to outlast Usman for a second straight win over one of the best welterweights ever.
If there were any doubters before, they can quiet the discourse because Edwards is the undisputed top 170-pounder in the world today. He will defend that spot again in December when he battles former interim king Colby Covington at UFC 296.