GSP's next order: former Strikeforce champ Nick Diaz. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
1. Georges St. Pierre (22-2)
It is finally happening. After months, even years of calls for dominant UFC 170-pound king St. Pierre to face off against Strikeforce counterpart Nick Diaz, the UFC has tabbed the match for UFC 137 on Oct. 29. GSP will enter his seventh title defense on a nine-fight tear, most recently having served Diaz teammate Jake Shields a five-round decision loss in April.
2. Jon Fitch (23-3-1, 1 NC)
Following shoulder surgery, Fitch is ready to return to the Octagon. The perennial welterweight second banana has been vocal about wanting to fight in his adopted backyard of San Jose, Calif., at UFC 139 on Nov. 19 and could find himself meeting former two-time NCAA wrestling champion Johny Hendricks.
3. Jake Shields (26-5-1)
Shields could not top Georges St. Pierre in April, but he is staying active against serious welterweights. In a battle of like-named welterweights, Shields will meet heavy-hitting Nebraskan wrestler Jake Ellenberger on Sept. 17.
4. Josh Koscheck (15-5)
After having his orbital bone smashed in his unsuccessful UFC title bid in December against Georges St. Pierre, Koscheck is ready to return to the Octagon. Like his teammate, Jon Fitch, Koscheck wants in on UFC 139 in San Jose, Calf., possibly at 185 pounds.
5. Nick Diaz (25-7, 1 NC)
Left without a clear-cut top contender after his April 9 dispatching of Paul Daley, the 27-year-old from Stockton, Calif., briefly turned his gaze toward the boxing ring. However, after reportedly being summoned to a Las Vegas meeting with UFC President Dana White, Diaz inked a new contract with the UFC and has vacated his Strikeforce belt. Diaz is now set for a major title collision with UFC champion Georges St. Pierre Oct. 29 in Las Vegas.
6. Carlos Condit (27-5)
Condit has been inching ever-closer to a UFC title shot, with impressive disposals of Dan Hardy and Dong Hyun Kim. However, if "The Natural Born Killer" really wants to earn his crack, he can do it with a sterling performance against former two-division UFC champion B.J. Penn at UFC 137 on Oct. 29.
7. Charlie Brenneman (14-2)
One of the UFC welterweight division's new standouts, "The Spaniard" took a tough fight on short notice with Rick Story and came out on top in June. Next on tap for Brenneman is another tall task, as he meets the physically potent Anthony Johnson at UFC Live on Oct. 1.
8. Rick Story (13-4)
Story might have lost a decision to Charlie Brenneman in June, but the gritty Oregonian is not taking any softballs. "The Horror" Story will step back into the Octagon at UFC 139 on Nov. 19 against skilled Dane Martin Kampmann.
9. B.J. Penn (16-7-2)
Healed from a shoulder injury, "The Prodigy" is set for duty at UFC 137 on Oct. 29 in Las Vegas. As usual, it is a high-risk outing for the challenge-driven Penn, as he meets hot challenger Carlos Condit in an important welterweight affair.
10. Johny Hendricks (11-1)
On Aug. 6, Hendricks showed off improved boxing and clinch work to earn a hard-fought split decision win over an equally tough Mike Pierce. The once-beaten Hendricks continues to climb the 170-pound ranks and emerge as one of the division's best developing talents.
Other contenders: Thiago Alves, Ben Askren, Rory MacDonald, Diego Sanchez, Tyron Woodley
* With the entry of Johny Hendricks, previously 10th-ranked Thiago Alves exits the Top 10.
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