Alan Belcher's first-round win over Rousimar Palhares at last Saturday's UFC on FOX 3 card was the biggest of his career.
From a purely athletic perspective, it was an important fight for Belcher. Palhares was, or is, one of the most terrifying guys in the division, especially when it comes to submissions. Belcher didn't just beat Palhares; he took everything Palhares could give him on the ground and still escaped to finish the fight.
The fight also proved that Belcher is deserving of consideration against the top guys in the division. If not for a highly-disputed loss to Yoshihiro Akiyama back at UFC 100 — a fight just about everyone else in the universe besides the three judges sitting cageside figured Belcher won — the Biloxi native would have a 7-fight win streak against increasingly tough competition.
So what's next for Belcher?
The top of the middleweight division is becoming increasingly crowded. Champion Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen fight in July, and new signee Hector Lombard faces Brian Stann in August, with the winner likely earning a title shot.
Though Belcher called out Silva after defeating Palhares, it looks like he'll have to wait awhile before getting his shot. Never fear, though — Belcher has the perfect next opponent in mind:
I think a fight with Michael Bisping makes a lot of sense. I mean, Boetsch looks like a beast at 185, and I've got to admit, he looks pretty scary. The other guys in the division, in my mind, I've already beat them so many times, and I know everything about them, and I know they don't have anything really threatening. Boetsch has got some pretty powerful tools, and is a pretty scary dude.
Bisping, of course, is getting to be a professional point fighter, and he's kind of hard to beat like that. That fight would be a nice payday, and a big fight for the media, so I'm kind of leaning towards that one. It would make sense, and the fans would love it. I can almost feel the energy I would get from the fans if I put him to sleep.
I've got to admit, this is an intriguing idea. If Bisping isn't in the title picture — and it's a shame if that's actually the case — then pairing him up with Belcher in a contender's bout later this year would be just about the perfect fit.
Who would win this fight?
Does Belcher have a point when he says that Bisping is becoming a professional point fighter? Sure. Bisping finished Jorge Rivera last year, and he finished an exhausted Mayhem Miller in December, but for the most part, Bisping has been content to ride out decisions. He's been highly effective in that role, to be sure. But that style hasn't helped him earn any title shots in a promotion that values entertainment almost as much as they do winning. Just ask Jon Fitch how that philosophy worked for him.