MMA Ratings Podcast

January 1, 2020

The Welterweight Division Stole The Show In 2019

By Raphael Garcia

There were several storylines that carried through 2019, but perhaps the biggest was the resurgence of the welterweight division. The weight class that was once heralded as one of the toughest in MMA had fallen on less exciting times. But that changed in 2019 as the UFC’s 170-pound division provided some of the most intriguing storylines of the year. Looking back at the last 365 days, the welterweight division “won” the year and has all the momentum heading into 2020.

Jorge Masvidal, Kamaru Usman, and Colby Covington were the biggest names in MMA this year. Each man was involved in fights this year that were the most talked about fights for the UFC.

First, there was Masvidal and what led to the introduction of the "BMF title." Masvidal starched Darren Till and Ben Askren in a combined three minutes and ten seconds, and in doing so, started the wheels turning for Nate Diaz to consider Masvidal the type of opponent he could face in a big money fight that would excite him and inspire him to be more active than in years past. That led to the UFC 244 headliner, which featured Masvidal and Diaz squaring off, and promotion that included Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Even though the doctor's stoppage result seemed anti-climatic to some, Masvidal's performance in the fight was enough to close out a 2019 in which he earned the right to be called the Fighter of the Year.

Then there’s Usman, the UFC Welterweight Champion. Usman started his 2019 by taking the belt away from Tyron Woodley in March at UFC 235 in dominant fashion. He then spent most of the year waiting for the UFC to find his first challenger, which would come in the form of Covington at UFC 245. This was a very close fight which Usman would win via stoppage in the fifth round. But while Usman entered the fight as the champion, it was Covington’s involvement that brought in outside interest. Media personalities such as Dave Zirin, Rosie O’Donnell, and Candace Owens were talking about a bout that occurred in the UFC – that is how big the fight was to the promotion.

The resurgence of interest in the welterweight division doesn’t stop there. Although he announced his retirement, Askren was an important part of that excitement in the past year. He went 1-2 in the UFC, but all his fights came with intrigue, as the former ONE Championship titleholder excelled in trash talking. His fights against Masvidal, Demian Maia, and Robbie Lawler provided some of the most compelling talking points of the year.

In 2019, up-and-comers like Geoff Neal and Leon Edwards continued to find success and push their way up the ladder, setting themselves up for big jumps in 2020. The division is teeming with established names that are staying relatively active compared to their counterparts. While other weigh classes are tied up due to champions chasing or holding two titles, the welterweight division has a fresh champion on top with several intriguing matchups brewing below.

In years past the lightweight or light heavyweight division stood at the top of the debate about the most intriguing weight class in mixed martial arts. 2019 was a bit different, as the 170-pounders established themselves as the group of the year and the ones to watch heading into 2020.

For more 2019 Year In Review Analysis, click HERE.

UFC 244
Nate Diaz vs. Jorge Masvidal: Jorge Masvidal def. Nate Diaz via technical knockout (Doctor's stoppage) at 5:00 of Round 3.

UFC 245
Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington (UFC Welterweight Championship): Kamaru Usman def. Colby Covington via TKO (Punches) at 4:10 of Round 5.

UFC 244: Masvidal vs. Diaz took place November 2, 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York.

Click HERE for more UFC 244 Post-Fight Analysis

UFC 245: Usman vs. Covington took place December 14, 2019 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Click HERE for more UFC 245 Post-Fight Analysis

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