From GSP to Robbie Lawler and now Darren Till and Colby Covington, the UFC’s Welterweight division continues to consistently provide some of the sports most compelling fighters. Over the last two years the division has been flowing back and forth between stale and exciting — with the last two official title fights being extremely lacklustre. In 2018 we have seen the division finally normalise and begin to build towards some outstanding matchups. As we approach the entertaining Welterweight clash between Donald Cerrone and Leon Edwards I thought it would be appropriate to shed some light on some of the divisions rising talent.
With this in mind, I compiled a list of the 5 most compelling UFC Welterweights outside of the current top 10. The criteria for the list is simple, to qualify the fighters must be; Currently signed to the UFC, not ranked in the Top 10, and have never fought for the title.
Next Fight: TBD
Currently 5-2 in the UFC, on a four-fight win streak, Belal Muhammed is one of the most overlooked fighters in the Welterweight division. As one of the most well-rounded fighters in the division, Belal uses his diverse skill set to outpoint and overcome his opponents. The only thing holding him back from being seen as a future contender, at this point, is his lack of finishing ability. If Muhammed is able to continue his win streak, while adding some lethality to his game, it is quite likely that we will see him facing some of the divisions elite in the near future.
Curtis Millender made a near flawless UFC debut in February of this year when he finished former title challenger Thiago Alves with a picture perfect knee. The debut was Millender’s third consecutive highlight reel knockout and the sixth fight of his current win streak. Although he has only had one UFC fight and is yet to face a top-level opponent, Curtis Millender without a doubt has the potential to become one of the divisions most compelling contenders.
Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos
Next Fight: TBD
Elizeu Zaleski is currently on a five-fight win streak that is highlighted by his most recent win — a knockout of the year contender against Sean Strickland. As we have seen in his UFC run so far, Zaleski is a talented, gritty fighter with dangerous striking backed up by a surprisingly well-rounded game. After his win over Sean Strickland, there is only one pressing question surrounding Zaleski and that is; how will he fare against the best Welterweights in the world? Hopefully, we will see him tested against the divisions elite in his next fight.
Next Fight: TBD
With a UFC record of 6-2 including wins over Belal Muhammad and Niko Price, Vicente Luque has quietly become one of the most exciting prospects in the division. At only 26 years of age, Luque continues to improve leaps and bounds between Octagon appearances and has begun to make his case for a shot at a ranked opponent. His crisp striking, well-rounded game and disciplined approach will make him a tough if not dangerous matchup for anyone in the division.
At 26 years of age, with a 7-2 UFC record, Leon Edwards without a doubt has the potential to be a future title contender. Edwards will be given the chance to propel himself into the spotlight when he faces Donald Cerrone this weekend in his first ever UFC Main Event. If Leon is able to get an impressive win over Cowboy he will join Darren Till and Kamaru Usman as part of the division’s next generation of top contenders. Regardless of the outcome in this weekends fight, Leon has a bright future in the division and will be an elite Welterweight for many years to come.