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MMA Top 10 Welterweights: No End in Sight to GSP's Dominance

Georges St. Pierre whipped Josh Koscheck for five rounds at UFC 124, bringing to 30 his streak of consecutive rounds won. Think about that: St. Pierre has fought the best of the best in the welterweight division, and although you can knock him for not finishing most of his recent fights, even the wildly inconsistent judges we have in MMA these days couldn't find a reason to score a single round against him over 30 rounds of action.

So when does that change? Jake Shields has dominated a whole lot of opponents himself recently, winning 15 straight fights including eight by stoppage and five by unanimous decision. But while Shields is certainly worthy of his title shot, it's extremely difficult to envision him actually beating St. Pierre, who does just about everything better than Shields. I could very easily see St. Pierre beating Shields by yet another unanimous decision, 50-45 all the way around.

And so as we rank the Top 10 welterweights in MMA, we're left wondering if any of them have what it takes to end GSP's reign.

(Editor's note: The individual fighter's ranking the last time we did welterweights is in parentheses.)

1. Georges St. Pierre (1): It's a good thing the UFC signed Shields: If it hadn't, it would be hard to find anyone in the welterweight division worthy of stepping into the Octagon with St. Pierre, who has already completely cleaned out the rest of the top of the division. They're running out of challengers.

2. Jon Fitch (2): I don't think most MMA fans realize just how good Fitch is. He's 13-1 in the UFC, the second best winning percentage in the promotion's history (behind the 12-0 Anderson Silva) among fighters with at least 10 fights. Unfortunately for Fitch, he was beaten so badly by St. Pierre that no one is clamoring for him to get another title shot.

3. Jake Shields (3): Even though Shields' grappling is great, I'm not sure that he'd do any better than fight to a stalemate with St. Pierre on the ground. And St. Pierre's striking is so much better than Shields' that it seems virtually guaranteed that St. Pierre will win every stand-up exchange between them. In other words, Shields is both the best option for the next welterweight title fight and a huge underdog who has very little chance of winning. That's how great St. Pierre is.

4. Thiago Alves (5): Alves looked reborn against John Howard at UFC 124, but part of that was the fact that he was taking a big step down in quality of competition after back-to-back losses to St. Pierre and Fitch. Alves is probably the best striker in the welterweight division, but he still needs to prove he can beat a great wrestler.

5. B.J. Penn (NR): His fight with Fitch at UFC 127 will match up two of the best fighters in the history of the UFC. I give the slight edge to Fitch, but I think Penn is good enough off his back to give Fitch problems that few other opponents have presented for him.

6. Josh Koscheck (6): Give credit to Koscheck for hanging tough as St. Pierre badly battered him for 25 minutes. Here's hoping he gets plenty of time to recover before settling into his role as a welterweight gatekeeper.

7. Martin Kampmann (9): If St. Pierre beats Shields, could Kampmann be next? Assuming he beats Diego Sanchez in March, Kampmann will be the highest-ranked welterweight whom St. Pierre hasn't beaten. But he'd probably need at least one more win before he'd be considered for title contention.

8. Nick Diaz (4): The Strikeforce welterweight champ is still waiting for his next fight. The crop of welterweight contenders in Strikeforce is weak, however, as aside from Diaz all of the elites are in the UFC.

9. Carlos Condit (NR): Condit said after he knocked out Dan Hardy that he'd like to fight St. Pierre, even though they both train with Greg Jackson. With another win he might get that chance.

10. Matt Hughes (8): It's a close call between Hughes and GSP for the title of the best welterweight ever, but Hughes will probably lose his place in the Top 10 in 2011, as he ponders his future and younger fighters continue to climb over him in the rankings. It's been a great run for Hughes, but his loss to Penn showed that his best days are well behind him.

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