The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s middleweight title picture has been hazy lately, but the events that transpired on Dec. 29 at UFC 155 made things a little clearer.
Tim Boetsch and Alan Belcher lost to Constantinos Philippou and Yushin Okami respectively, reducing the number of viable title contenders to four: Michael Bisping, Hector Lombard, Chris Weidman, and Luke Rockhold.
UFC president Dana White made things even clearer during the post-fight press conference, announcing Bisping would get the next shot at current middleweight champion, Anderson Silva, if he emerges victorious against Vitor Belfort at “UFC on FX 7.”
“If Bisping wins that fight, he’ll get the next shot,” White stated.
He then explained his reasoning during a conversation with ESPN.com.
“In that division, there were so many guys coming up,” White said. “A couple of those guys lost tonight. If Bisping can beat Belfort — that’s a tough fight for Mike — he deserves the shot at Anderson.”
UFC on FX 7 will take place on Jan. 19, at the Ibirapuera Arena in São Paulo, Brazil.
The light-heavyweight winner of the third season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Bisping has been on a tear lately, losing only to Chael Sonnen — a number one contender bout — since early 2010. Factor in the fact that many MMA fans scored his “UFC on Fox 2” fight against Sonnen in his favor, and it’s clear Bisping should get the next shot at the title if he defeats Belfort.
Weidman won’t be too pleased with White’s decision to give Bisping the next shot at “The Spider,” considering how hard he’s been campaigning for a title shot. Many felt he earned the right to call out Silva with his dominant performance against Mark Munoz at “UFC on Fuel TV 4.” But Weidman still needs at least one more win against a top contender to prove he deserves a shot at the title.
A number one contender bout against Lombard won’t be a bad idea, if Hector is willing to wait until mid 2013 for his next fight, while Weidman recovers from the shoulder injury that forced him out of his UFC 155 bout against Boetsch.
If “Shango” isn’t willing to wait that long, Lombard vs. Rockhold also makes sense for a number one contender bout.
Bisping also came close to a title shot back in 2009, but Dan Henderson derailed his plans, knocking “The Count” out cold at UFC 100. Getting past Belfort at UFC on FX 7 won’t be any easier, as the Brazilian doesn’t seem very fond of the Brit.
Unfortunately for Belfort, he won’t get a title shot, even if he emerges victorious at UFC on FX 7. White’s reasoning, Vitor’s UFC 126 bout against Silva was “so decisive.”
A Bisping vs. Silva fight isn’t exactly the most intriguing matchup in the world, as the odds strongly favor the champion. However, between Bisping’s trash talk and the fact that he’s arguably the most technical striker Silva has faced in quite some time, it should be an entertaining affair.