The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight division experienced a huge shake up in the wake of the UFC 235 pay-per-view (PPV) event earlier this month in Las Vegas, Nevada, when Kamaru Usman dominated Tyron Woodley to capture the 170-pound crown.
On the same card Ben Askren made his Octagon debut by stealing one from Robbie Lawler.
That means the welterweight field is wide open in terms of qualified contenders, and No. 7-ranked Santiago Ponzinibbio is tired of waiting for Rafael dos Anjos. Therefore, “Gente Boa” will move on to bigger and better things in 2019.
“This is one of the best moments of my career, I’m ready to become world champion and I don’t want to stay inactive,” Ponzinibbio told MMA Fighting. “Since dos Anjos really doesn’t want to fight me, I think Tyron Woodley is a great fight. I will knock Tyron out and then I’ll fight for the title and knock Usman out. I will be the next welterweight champion in 2019.”
That’s a long and winding road. Usman is already booked to make his first title defense against former interim champion, Colby Covington, once “The Nigerian Nightmare” is all patched up from his recent surgery.
In addition, Woodley is foolishly holding on to hope that he’s getting an instant rematch and may turn down any and all dangerous fights that have the potential to push him even farther away from the 170-pound title.
Let’s also remember that two more contenders will enter the fold this Saturday across the pond, as Darren Till fights Jorge Masvidal and Leon Edwards battles Gunnar Nelson in the UFC London main and co-main event, respectively.
2019 is going to be a very interesting year for the welterweight division.