The British champion gained a modicum of revenge over old foe Dan Henderson in a brutal fight over the weekend to retain his middleweight title and remain undefeated in his homeland. Now, with one major fight out of the way, the middleweight division is set to explode with former champions Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidmann squaring off with perennial top five contenders Jacare and Yoel Romero respectively. With Henderson no longer competing and Gegard Moussasi dismantling Vitor Belfort, what do you do next?
Once again, the Middleweight division has a massive question mark over it – but it’s a good one to have.
The Champion Michael Bisping successfully defended his title against retiring stalwart Dan Henderson at UFC 204 over the weekend, a fight which could have gone either way and left Henderson without the belt in his final fight. Now, the attention turns to New York and to Melbourne.
Chris Weidmann returns to face Yoel Romero in his home town and Luke Rockhold faces off against Jacare Souza in Melbourne, with both bouts set to shape the division going forward into 2017.
Bisping has had no issues putting the quartet offside, using his post fight interview to air his grievances against a division stacked with ego and talent.
Giving Bisping Henderson after winning the title instead of either of two former champions owed rematch was a bold call by the UFC, but given Henderson was retiring after the bout no matter what, they went the safe option to give them a draw, which they doubled down on by having it in Manchester, Bisping’s hometown, but now, the tough decisions have to get made. The bouts scheduled provide a double-edged sword for Dana White going forward.
Both Rockhold and Weidmann are owed rematches for the title losses and both should get them, but should both come out of their upcoming respective fights with a loss, neither would be in a good position to be demanding it. This would put Jacarae and Yoel Romero back on the map for a title shot and leave the former champions languishing.
Should this play out, you would have two former champions with title rematches owing, and two contenders with claims to a title shot. Leaving four legitimate contenders for the belt all going after Bisping at once. Further to this headache is the continued dominance of Gegard Moussasi who dismantled Vitor Belfort on the 204 card and has expressed his disappointment with not being considered amongst the likes of Rockhold, Weidmann and co.
So, what do they do next?
Well, clearly nothing can be set in stone until the Melbourne fight night and 205 have been fought – but there are several situations that can arise, as mentioned above.
Situation 1: Rockhold and Weidmann win
Situation 2: Rockhold wins and Weidmann loses
Situation 3: Rockhold loses and Weidmann wins
Situation 4: Rockhold and Weidmann both lose
Should both Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidmann emerge from their fights victorious, then both will have legitimate claims to a title shot, and White, along with Joe Silva’s replacement will have a hard decision on their hands. More than likely to come down to the manner in which either wins, it would seem that whoever gets the shot, the other winner is next in line.
Situation 2 & 3
A simple fix, should one lose and the other win, then the winner will receive the title shot.
Should both Rockhold and Weidmann lose, then they would slide down the pecking order. A harsh call, but selling a fight after a lose for either man is going to be very difficult. Should they both lose, Gegard Moussasi and Robert Whitaker should be the next in line. Having won 5 of his last six and without a chequered history regarding doping, it would be a far easier sell for the UFC.
The best situation for Bisping? Anything that doesn’t involve having to deal with Gegard Moussasi, in the words of Joe Rogan ‘He’s got the glow right now.’
Bottom line is, anything could happen. Much the Welterweight and Featherweight divisions, it is up in the air as to what is going to happen next, but it sure if exciting to see play out.