Is Usman on His Way to be the Welterweight GOAT?

Kamaru-Usman-Gilbert-burns-odds

5. Robbie Lawler

Robbie Lawler gets on the list for how good he was in his prime, as between 2013-2016 he won eight out of 10 fights, losing only to Johny Hendricks and Tyron Woodley in title fights, the latter being a real change of the guard at 170.

In this time, he avenged his loss to Hendricks and won the welterweight championship and successfully defending it on two occasions. Lawler also claimed the 2014 Fighter of the Year as well as three consecutive Fight of the Year awards from 2014, 2015 and 2016, which just about sums up who he was as a fighter.

"Ruthless" boasts arguably the greatest power in welterweight history, and for this reason alone, he deserves a mention on this list.

4. Tyron Woodley

Despite his recent downfall, Woodley is undoubtedly one of the best to ever do it at 170 and during his heyday, arguments were even there for rivalling the very, very best at welterweight.

Woodley became champion after knocking out Lawler in the first round of their fight in 2016, and this remains one of the best and most famous knockouts in recent history at welterweight. “The Chosen One” went on to defend the belt on four occasions, before losing out to Usman in 2019, where he was beaten convincingly and has seemingly not recovered since.

Regardless of this, Woodley has some huge names on his resumé in the form of Kevin Gastelum, Lawler, Stephen Thompson, Demian Maia and Darren Till, meaning he has already secured his place amongst the greats of the division.

3. Matt Hughes

Two-time UFC welterweight champion and Hall of Fame inductee Matt Hughes has beaten many UFC legends in his time, as well as putting together two six-fight win streaks in the division. Hughes won the belt with an iconic slam knockout against Carlos Newton in 2001 and defended it five times before losing to B.J. Penn. It took just nine months for Hughes to win it back though, where he beat Georges St-Pierre with an armbar in the first round for the vacant title.

Hughes is just one of two people to have beaten GSP and he then went on a four-fight win streak, defeating both Royce Gracie and B.J. Penn. Hughes was the 2002 Fighter of the Year and his fights against Frank Trigg and Penn are some of the best that the UFC has ever seen, with seven successful title defences to his name and the most finishes in welterweight history.

Hughes is rightfully appreciated as one of the best of all time.

2. Kamaru Usman

It is easy for recency bias to take over when discussing the greatest fighters in UFC history, but Usman is now well and truly in the GOAT conversation at 170. The current champion's win against Woodley was one of the most dominating performances we’ve ever seen in a title fight and to win in that fashion against such a high-level wrestler was something that no fan saw coming, as Usman dismantled one of the best ever to win the belt.

He has since beaten Colby Covington, Jorge Masvidal (x2) and Gilbert Burns and he truly seems unbeatable at the moment. Usman's recent KO over Masvidal was just as impressive in itself, as the BMF champion was the first person to ever KO him and the first person to finish him in over 10 years.

The problem that the “Nigerian Nightmare” has is that he can only beat what is in front of him and the current welterweight division isn’t as good as it once was, therefore, the only way Usman can cement claims of being the best ever is through longevity, and adding another name like Stephen Thompson to his list might put him on a par with GSP.

At the age of 33, there's plenty of time for his winning streak to continue and with no obvious threats at the moment, it will be very interesting to see how long he can keep the welterweight title.

1. Georges St-Pierre

Not only is St-Pierre recognised as the best welterweight of all-time but almost all UFC fans, but he is also arguably the greatest of all time across all weight classes. After suffering that early setback to Matt Hughes, he won five consecutive fights and avenged his defeat to Hughes to win the title. However, GSP then had to deal with another setback, losing to Matt Serra in his first title defence, but this was to be the last loss of his career.

St-Pierre then went on to win 13 consecutive fights, beating Hughes once again and avenging his loss to Serra to win back the UFC Welterweight Championship. He has many accolades to his name, such as most wins in the division (19) and most successful title defences in the division (9).

To put a perfect end to his career, the Canadian came back in 2017 to defeat Michael Bisping in the middleweight division and became the fourth Multi-Divisional Champion in UFC history. If Usman wants to take St-Pierre’s place as the greatest welterweight of all-time, he has a long way to go.

By Tom Eaton

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