The war of words has only just begun between UFC middleweight champion, Michael Bisping and former champion, Chris Weidman. Weidman proclaimed himself to be the division’s true champion after his UFC Fight Night victory over Kelvin Gastelum in Long Island. Bisping, however, hasn’t fought since his victory over Dan Henderson in October 2016. Some may argue that Weidman is not deserving of a title challenge considering that before defeating Gastelum, he had lost three straight fights.
Where Does The Middleweight Division Go From Here?
The Other Contenders:
The problem with the division is that the other contenders have their hands full at the moment. Current middleweight interim champion Robert Whittaker is out with a knee injury and will most likely not return until sometime in 2018. Yoel Romero lost to Whittaker and to give a fighter a title shot after a loss doesn’t make much sense. Luke Rockhold is probably the next in line after the Cuban Olympic wrestler. The issue is that former champion Rockhold has a fight scheduled against World Series of Fighting standout, David Branch, sometime in the fall. Then we have Jacare Souza, but he was finished in two rounds by Interim champion, Whittaker. Anderson Silva is in the top 10 of the division, but he is an aging fighter who has not seemed himself in quite some time, and lost 2 of his last 3 fights, one of them to Bisping.
What about GSP?
There has been talk about George St-Pierre returning to the octagon since the day he stepped away from it. The former Welterweight king was suppose to fight Bisping for the 185-pound belt sooner rather than later. However, Bisping suffered a knee injury, and the fight was called off. It now seems that St-Pierre’s management would favor a return to Welterweight after Woodley and Maia face off at UFC 214. It seems that the almost four-year wait for GSP to return to the octagon will go on for a little bit longer as of this writing.
So, Who’s Left?
After taking a look at the top 5 of the Middleweight division and a former Welterweight king, the only option left is “The All-American,” Chris Weidman. He may only have one win in his last four outings, but he’s the best candidate to challenge Bisping. Kelvin Gastelum was on a hot streak spanning two weight divisions and had never been finished in the UFC; Weidman was able to put a stop to both of those accolades with a masterful display of wrestling and jiu-jitsu in Long Island. There’s also the small fact that Weidman defeated one of the best fighters -if not the best- of all time in Anderson Silva. While Daniel Cormier and Michael Bisping join him on that list, only Weidman can say that he beat the legendary Brazilian twice in back-to-back fights. Some will argue that Weidman got lucky in those bouts against Silva. But, if one goes back and watches those fights, the argument could be made that Weidman wasn’t in any immediate danger over 4 rounds with the former champion.
How Did We Get Here?
The trash talk from Weidman started as soon as his losing streak ended. He immediately got on the microphone and proclaimed that he, and not Bisping, was the true owner of the 185 strap. However, the Middleweight champion is not the silent type and quickly took to Twitter and UFC Tonight to respond to the All-American. With the rest of the division being occupied at the moment, Weidman is the best choice to challenge the champion.