The UFC may have moved away from naming its cards, but UFC 171 might as well be dubbed UFC 171: The Welterweights. When Robbie Lawler and Johny Hendricks square off Saturday in Dallas, we will see the crowning of a new welterweight champion for the first time since UFC 83. The main event alone is an intriguing bout, but it’s the four additional welterweight fights on the card that will truly breathe new life into the division.

The Hendricks and Lawler tilt for the strap is joined on the main card by two other fights that could produce a No. 1 contender. In those bouts, Carlos Condit faces Tyron Woodley and Jake Shields takes on Hector Lombard. We also have big prospects on the undercard, where Kelvin Gastellum fights Rick Story and Sean Spencer goes up against Alex Garcia.

With all of these guys fighting on the same card, the matchmaking works out. By Sunday morning, we will more than likely know not only the next title fight in the welterweight division, but a new No. 1 contender fight and some other top-10 match-ups will materialize based on Saturday evening’s fight outcomes.

This is the way to move a division along. A lot of fans and writers, myself included, criticized the UFC for its decision to hold up the lightweight division while Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis coach The Ultimate Fighter. UFC 171, however, just goes to show that for every questionable decision the UFC makes, the promotion is doing something right on the other end of the spectrum at the same time.

This isn’t the first time the UFC has gone the route of showcasing a single division during an event. Recently, the welterweight division has highlighted the main and co-main events of pay-per-view cards. The UFC even went as far as to have a main card filled entirely with heavyweight fights for its Memorial Day showcase in 2012.

With five welterweight fights on the UFC 171 card, the UFC could have pulled the trigger and done the same thing. However, there’s no way that the promotion would leave a guy like Diego Sanchez off the main card.

Hopefully we see more of these division-centric cards in the future. They make too much sense in every regard of the fight game. It is a great way to not only get fans pumped about the fights going on that night, but it provides them with a clear glimpse into what’s to come in the future. It is a great feeling after the show when you can talk about the two most impressive fighters on the card facing each other in their next bout. We saw that with Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos, and we even saw it to some degree with Hendricks and Lawler.

It makes far less sense to have a middleweight contest and a featherweight contender fight as the top two bouts on a card, with no other significant fight from either division in the recent past or future. That scenario often leaves fans without a clear picture of what comes next. When the best fighters in every division are fighting on the same schedule, it gives the fans the match-ups they want without guys waiting for extended periods of time for their title shot or jumping back into the cage in match-ups that aren’t ideal.

It’s understandable that the UFC would want to put on a card that has intriguing fights from every division to give every fan a little bit of something that they love, but those lineups might be better saved for Fox or Fox Sports 1 cards, where the promotion is truly trying to introduce the fans to different aspects of the sport. Themed pay-per-view events seem like the wave of the future and the best thing that the UFC could do.

The other major player in the pay-per-view scene has been doing it for years now. Pro wrestling promotions have shied away from more generic cards and started making the top matches with the same stipulation. Granted, the division might not be quite deep enough yet, but how intriguing would it be to view a UFC main card with all women’s fights? It would add relevance to each fight in the lineup and paint fans a clear picture of the pecking order below Ronda Rousey (or the future strawweight champion, once The Ultimate Fighter 20 concludes). This is one thing that Bellator always has going for it with the tournaments format. After a Friday night show, we know who is fighting who next, and we know what we are getting as far as a division goes going into the card.

The UFC has said that it won’t ever go back to doing tournaments, but bringing all of the best fighters from a division together on the same night seems like a pretty good substitute.

About The Author

Trey Downey
Staff Writer

A Central Florida native, Trey Downey's interest in MMA came after a trip to Blockbuster and the rental of UFC 47 on VHS. He has been blogging about the sport since 2011 and hosted a podcast called The TD Experience focusing on football and MMA (touchdowns and takedowns). Trey studied radio and television at the University of Central Florida and will soon be attending the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Trey enjoys watching sports, pro wrestling and is an avid runner.