By Niall Clarke

  • UFC Welterweight division preview
  • Current champion: Robbie Lawler
  • Lawler set to face Carlos Condit on January 2nd

The build to 2016 continues with a look at the UFC’s Welterweight division. Who will be king at 170 by the end of 2016?

Once ruled by Georges St-Pierre, the Welterweight division is now more open than it has ever been. The Canadian star is still on hiatus with no conformation of returning to the Octagon any time soon.

In his absence one man has stepped up. ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler has made the transformation from your average Welterweight fighter to Champion in the space of a few years- one of the more incredible stories in recent times.

After capturing the title in late 2014, the 33 year old only made one defence in 2015 against highly touted Canadian Rory McDonald. It was a four round war that proved to be one of the fights of the year, but Lawler earned a TKO finish at the start of the fifth round to retain his championship.

Lawler will open the year in the main event of UFC 195 against Carlos Condit. The former interim champion is an interesting choice of contender given he has lost three of his last five fights, but this main event is an excellent way to start 2015. Both men bring their all to every fight and are two of the most exciting fighters to watch on the roster. It is an instant fight of the year contender.

It will be extremely close but Lawler will get it done by decision in a five round war, sparking controversy. Former champion Johny Hendricks will likely be the next in line after his fight with Stephen Thompson. Hendricks on-paper seems like a stylistic nightmare for ‘Wonder boy’ so it should be a victory for ‘Bigg Rigg’ as he out-wrestles his opponent.

That will lead to a rubber match between Hendricks and Lawler for the title which will also be one of the fights of the year. They will battle for five rounds again but this time Hendricks will get the decision and reclaim the title.

Tyron Woodley and Damian Maia will fight to meet Hendricks for the title. It is a fight that will likely go to a decision but given Woodley’s form he will be the one who gets the shot. Hendricks defeats Woodley in a fight that was meant to happen in October this year but got cancelled due to injury.

In other Welterweight news, we will find out exactly what the future lies for GSP. The Canadian, who is highly regarded as one of the greatest fighters of all time, has been inactive since late 2013 after vacating his title. It is yet unclear if he will return to action, but no matter what St-Pierre decides, we will find out in 2016.

There has been many cries for the UFC to sign undefeated ONE FC champion Ben Askren. The former freestyle wrestler will finally agree terms with the UFC in 2016 but won’t be booked to fight until the following year.

Stay tuned for the Middleweight preview which will come your way tomorrow.

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