Michael Bisping was rocked at the end of the first round of his UFC 152 middleweight title eliminator fight with Brian Stann, but he overcame the threat to outpoint his opponent en route to a unanimous decision win Saturday night in Toronto.
Though not a dominant performance, Bisping consistently beat Stann in standing exchanges and showed a wrinkle to his game by repeatedly taking his opponent down. The latter aspect of the fight was particularly influential in earning Bisping the nod.
The win advances Bisping closer to a middleweight title shot, and it presents him with a number of intriguing possible opponents for his next bout.
It is conceivable that Bisping skips to the front of the line and faces off with 185-pound kingpin Anderson Silva in early 2013.
His win at UFC 152 makes a strong case that he deserves such treatment, but it does not necessarily ensure the outcome. While the victory was impressive, it was not of the variety that utterly demands a title shot, so we could see Bisping tussling with another fellow contender before he competes for gold.
If he isn't granted an instant title shot, the most logical opponent for the Brit is the winner of Chris Weidman vs. Tim Boetsch, which is set for UFC 155 on December 29. Both Weidman and Boetsch have had impressive 2012 campaigns. Whoever scores a victory over the other would be just as deserving of a title shot as Bisping, so why not make them fight?
Alternatively, Alan Belcher is a logical opponent. The Talent is yet another guy hovering around Silva's title and is currently a very meaningful middleweight to beat.
We may not know Bisping's precise career path at this point, but rest assured, his next opponent will almost certainly be drawn from Weidman, Boetsch, Belcher or Silva.
At least, that should be the case.