State of the UFC’s welterweight division entering 2021

Dec 14, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Kamaru Usman (red gloves) reacts before a bout against Colby Covington (not pictured) during UFC 245 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Overall, 2020 turned out to be a relatively slow year in the UFC‘s welterweight division. After Kamaru Usman (17-1) and Colby Covington (16-2) had a war to end 2019 for the title, we only saw one title fight in the division during 2020.

That title fight took place at UFC 251. Kamaru Usman defended his title against the BMF himself, Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal (35-14). Masvidal had a massive 2019 that made him the top contender in the welterweight division.

However, putting the fight with Usman together proved to be difficult. The fight actually fell apart before it came back together. Negotiations broke down between the UFC and Masvidal when the two sides were trying to make the fight.

As a result, the promotion shifted gears to Gilbert Burns (19-3). Burns became a top contender after he smashed former champion Tyron Woodley (19-6-1) and knocked out Demian Maia (28-10).

Burns was all set to take the fight against Usman at UFC 251. However, Burns tested positive for COVID and the fight was scrapped. That’s how we ultimately got back to the fight between Usman and Masvidal.

UFC’s Welterweight Division in 2021

Usman would go on to use his steady wrestling attack to secure a decision win over Masvidal at UFC 251. However, Usman would be out the remainder of 2020 after getting banged up in the fight.

Tentatively, the UFC is planning on Usman and Burns facing off on February 13th for the welterweight title. The promotion also has their eyes on a grudge match in the division that promises to be big business.

The UFC is trying to book Masvidal against Covington. The two former best friends are now sworn enemies and can’t stand each other. The promotion has been trying to put the fight together, but it’s developed extremely slow.

That fight is one of the more anticipated matchups of 2021. Another fighter to watch this upcoming year is Leon Edwards (18-3). Edwards has won eight fights in a row and he was supposed to take on the star prospect, Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) on January 20th.

However, we learned yesterday that Chimaev had to pull out of the fight. The plan is still for Edwards to fight on January 20th. In addition to all of these contenders, you still have Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson (16-4-1) in the mix.

Wonderboy just picked up a shutout victory over Geoff Neal at UFC Vegas 17. Thompson has turned away two straight top contenders to show everyone he’s still a factor at 170 pounds.

Kamaru Usman’s toughest stylistic matchup is his first fight of the year. After Burns, the division is filled with killers waiting for their chance. Usman is going to have his hands full trying to hold on to his UFC gold in 2021.