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6/14/16: Ranking Five Discussed Options to Face Michael Bisping For UFC Middleweight Championship
Michael Bisping has publicly discussed five different potential options for his first challenger after winning the UFC Middleweight Champion, so here’s my order for those options from the fight I’m most interested in seeing to the least. This is a completely subjective ranking of these five names, so send your in list in to MMATorchEditor@gmail.com to voice your opinion!
5. Dan Henderson: Yes he’s been getting some play because of his KO win over Hector Lombard, and yes the fight with Bisping might be a bit more interesting in 2016 given recent successes given the highlight-reel nature of their first fight. However, Henderson shouldn’t be getting a fight for that title in 2016. If it’s held as completely meaningless and ceremonial, ok, I suppose, but if they want it to legitimately represent the top end of the division that’s not the fight to make right now. Bisping beat Anderson Silva to put himself in a position to be a late replacement, Dan Henderson was brutally defeated in three of four fights before the Lombard bout. Let’s not go this route.
4. Chris Weidman: They’ve already exchanged words with one another, and it’s a fight in the top end of the division which hasn’t happened. Weidman’s a former champion in the division who defended the title three times. He’d have a strong case, were it not for the fact that he got beat badly by Luke Rockhold, whom Bisping just knocked out in the first round. Weidman’s got to win another fight, preferably against Rockhold, to get that shot, but he needs to first heal up from neck surgery in order to be healthy enough to even do that.
3. Georges St-Pierre: This isn’t the biggest fight for St-Pierre if and when he returns to the Octagon, but it’s an intriguing new wrinkle into the mix for Bisping. St-Pierre’s return is going to be a huge deal when/if it happens, and if Bisping can be on the other end of that it would be one of his biggest ever fights and biggest ever paydays. GSP coming up to middleweight with how long he’s been out wouldn’t be surprising, because cutting a lot of weight may not be what he wants to do, so if he comes up and wants a shot at that belt the UFC might just give it to him.
2. Luke Rockhold: There’s a couple of very simple reasons to make this rematch right away – Rockhold submitted Bisping in the first fight after knocking him down, and the UFC 199 bout happened on short notice. Running it back a third time and determining who’s best is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Bisping’s argument that he had to go through a bunch more fights before re-matching Rockhold doesn’t hold as much weight, because the reason he had to wait is he hadn’t had any sustained success prior to the Rockhold loss. He’s still only on a four fight winning streak, while Rockhold has only lost three times ever in his career. They could easily make this fight to give Rockhold a chance to prove UFC 199 a fluke.
1. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza: That would be passing over the No. 1 contender, though, and with the option to book Rockhold-Weidman II in New York as a No. 1 contender fight, the best fight to make is Bisping against Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. The former Strikeforce Champ is long overdue for a crack at UFC gold, and even though he technically has a “loss” to Yoel Romero, that was seen as a questionable decision at best. With how great Jacare looked against Vitor Belfort, along with the run he’d had since a decision loss to Rockhold in Strikeforce, he belongs in this fight, he deserves the shot, and it’s a fighter Bisping hasn’t faced yet.
[Photo (c) Jake Roth via USA Today Sports]
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