Dana White and the UFC are in an odd position with their middleweight division. Their champion, a 37 year old Michael Bisping isn’t going to be around for ever, and with two former champions owed rematches in Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidmann and a division full of worthy talent, there is a real problem on their hands.
The Middleweight division is stacked, Michael Bisping shocked the world and sits at top what is a weight class choc-full of talented and bitter fighters who can all lay claim to a title fight.
45 year old veteran Dan Henderson is on the verge of bowing out of the game, with three fights to his name since the start of last year, and a less then favourable record, he is in contention based on his experience alone.
Former Champion, Luke Rockhold, along with the man he beat, Chris Weidmann are owing re-matches for the title and will look to ‘cash’ them in as soon as they possibly can.
The final man in the picture is Ricardo ‘Jacare’ Souza, the man who was in line for Bisping’s title shot, only unable to compete due to injury. He’s consistently been in the top 5 of the division for years and would be a suitable and worthy recipient of a title shot.
Each of those listed above are deserving of a title shot, but, with the title change coming earlier this month, it won’t happen anytime soon, and with Chris Weidmann out with a serious disc injury in his neck and Luke Rockhold having just lost via knockout, he could be put on the backburner. This leaves three men; Bisping, Henderson and Jacarae. The easy solution would be to have Henderson and Jacarae go toe to toe to become the number one contender, however, even that poses issues. Henderson just came off a savage fight and Jacarae is coming off an injury. Henderson’s fight being on the same card as Bisping’s win, and Jacarae still not fully healed, it would more than likely require an extended break before they were to fight once again.
Of course, there is a wildcard that could be thrown into the mix, Georges St Pierre. GSP, one of the very best recently announced his intentions to return to the sport he made so great, and in the process of announcing his intentions, he singled out the Middleweight Champion as a target. His presence in the middleweight division changes things, and could provide the UFC with the opportunity to hype the fight like no other they have before. However, what it fails to do, is keep a ‘balance’ in the division. If GSP returns and fights for the title, than, there is another person with a rematch owing, meaning you have three people all claiming their own right to being next in line. Whilst certainly a strong move from both an exposure and finances perspective, it just doesn’t make sense for the division. So, again, your left with two people, who are on the injured/reserved list who are owed rematches and you are left with a division with a lack of suitable replacements ready to step up.
With a lack of true possibilities for the title picture, I think former UFC Heavyweight and the Fighter from The Fighter and The Kid, Brendan Schaub summed it up best on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast.
The Champion Michael Bisping goes around one more time against old foe and one of the most durable fighters in the game, Dan Henderson in a rematch of their fight from years ago, for the title. No matter the outcome, both walk away from the game.
This then leaves a vacant title with two former champions owing there rematch, Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidmann. Should this be the decision made, the rematches owing are no longer hanging over Dana White’s head. You also have one of what could be three possible title super-fights which would coincide with the incoming Madison Square Garden card tipped to be set for October or November this year.