Vitor Belfort and Michael Bisping are scheduled to meet on Jan. 19 at UFC on FX 7. This should be an exciting contest that will help clarify the contender picture in the middleweight division. However, a win for either fighter will still leave a great deal lacking in proving that they are title-worthy. Surprisingly, Bisping believes this contest is more meaningful.
Anderson won’t be fighting until May – and even then it looks like it won’t be a middleweight title defense. According to my boss and their boss – Mr Dana F White – Anderson and GSP will have a super-fight in May and who knows what happens then? Anderson could win and then fight Jon Jones at light heavyweight in September and go the entire year – 18months and more – since defending the middleweight belt.
Anderson Silva fought last month at UFC 153 and won in dominant fashion. He has 16 consecutive
UFC wins and 10 title defenses. He is the universally recognized pound-for-pound king and is often discussed as the greatest of all time.
There is no debate that he is the best in his division. Therefore, there is no reason whatsoever for anyone to hold any other title in that division nor to suggest that there is any debate over who the king of 185 is. Bisping's tenuous line of thinking can easily be eviscerated by the following reasoning.
Bisping is 9-4 in his last 13 fights and has consistently lost when the competition has been in the upper echelon of the division. His four losses were against former 205 champ Rashad Evans, Pride champions Dan Henderson and Wanderlei Silva, and Chael Sonnen. He has never defeated a top-ranked opponent.
The biggest bout of Bisping's life was at UFC 100. In this great night of fights, Dan Henderson knocked out the brash Brit in epic fashion. Bisping, during TUF 9, had disrespected the athletes on Henderson's team by insulting, antagonizing and even spraying water on them. Bisping, the Team UK coach, even went on to truculently boast about a guaranteed victory over Henderson. This strategy foolishly backfired, as the iconic Pride champ's H-bomb proved why he is a legend.
While he lost close decisions to Evans, Silva and Sonnen that could have gone his way, he also had his share of fortunate outcomes. His split decision win against Matt Hamill could have easily gone against him. His win over 20-9 Jorge Rivera was very controversial as Bisping intentionally struck Rivera with an illegal knee to the head which could have easily won the match for the since retired Rivera via disqualification.
Rivera never recovered from the blow and the Brit scored a second round TKO win that deserved an asterisk. Even more disturbing is that, after he won with the advantage of an illegal blow, "The Count" spat on his competitor's corner. Not only does he seem to lack sportsmanship when he wins, as he also did in his close split-decision win over the respectful Hamill, he vociferously pouts when a decision does not go his way like in the Sonnen, Silva and Evans losses.
The talk that Anderson Silva's potential superfights will leave a vacuum that requires filling is a red herring. No fights have been signed, though they have been the subject of speculation for years. The champ recently fought and is looking to fight. These blockbuster fights are a good thing and should they occur, no one will be in doubt as to who the true champ of the middleweight division really is.
An interim title would be meaningless and superficial. In fact, it would detract from the great accomplishments by the Brazilian Spider and would be insulting to his success. Any temporary leave from the division will not jeopardize his throne. One should not suffer punitive measures for seeking out greater challenges and to suggest that another fighter in the division should be crowned champion is an insult.
Do you believe Bisping-Belfort should be for the interim title?
There is no room to vacillate on this issue; there is no discussion required. The current champ, Anderson Silva, is as deserving as there has even been a champion. Respectfully, "The Spider" has convincingly cleaned out the division. There are no compelling challengers for him at 185 right now.
Perhaps a tournament testing the Lombard-Palhares winner with the Bisping-Belfort winner to eventually meet a decisive leader among Alan Belcher, Tim Boetsch and Chris Weidman could reveal a true No. 1 contender. Truly, these contenders have to prove themselves among themselves before they can sincerely demand a title shot. Bisping is talented, well-rounded and shows constant improvement, but he has not shown he is a legitimate challenge to usurp Anderson Silva's reign.
The notion of any of these fighters being crowned a champion in the division transcends absurdity. Bisping is seeking an easy way to become champion while his athletic performances and his dissolute conduct have proven that he is not championship worthy. Lamentably, the lucrative incentive of potentially crowning a UK athlete as champion and marketing a title unification bout might influence the decision. But then again, the UFC would never impugn the credibility of their titles by awarding challenges to non-deserving fighters just to make a buck, right?