Belfort vs. Bisping: Top Middleweight Contenders After Bisping's TKO Loss

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2013

July 11, 2012; San Jose, CA, USA; Chris Weidman reacts during his fight against Mark Munoz (not pictured) during the middleweight bout of the UFC on Fuel TV at HP Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

With Anderson Silva perched atop the middleweight rankings, the most intrigue usually comes from who is next in line to challenge the pound-for-pound kingpin. With Vitor Belfort knocking Michael Bisping to the back of the line, the race for the next title shot just got a whole lot more interesting. 

According to Dana White, Bisping would have been the next in line to challenge "The Spider" for his middleweight championship. After Belfort's impressive knockout victory, it's safe to say Bisping is out of the picture for a while. 

So, who fills Bisping's shoes now as the No. 1 contender in waiting?

Here's a quick look at the best candidates. 


Chris Weidman

Even before Bisping was finished by Belfort, Weidman had a legitimate case as the No. 1 contender. 

The 28-year-old has the wrestling chops to give Silva trouble, and he's already picked up signature wins against Mark Munoz and Demian Maia. 

At 9-0, Weidman doesn't have very many fights, but he's proved that he can hang with the best in the division. He's not the biggest name, but at this point he's the most intriguing option for Silva and deserving of a title shot.


Luke Rockhold

Rockhold is expected to enter the UFC as the last middleweight champion of Strikeforce. 

The 28-year-old submission specialist defended his belt twice in 2012 and should factor into the title picture in the UFC immediately. Considering the fact that Silva has already beaten many of the top middleweights, someone like Rockhold could skip to the front of the line. 

If Silva won't fight Weidman or Weidman loses before Silva is ready to fight again, the UFC could do worse than a "champion vs. champion" bout between Rockhold and Silva.


Vitor Belfort

It seems crazy, but it may be the time to give Belfort his rematch against Silva. 

"The Spider" knocked out Belfort in February of 2011, but "The Phenom" has won three of his last four fights since then with the only loss coming against Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title. 

Belfort's power was on full display against Bisping, and he's done enough at this point to at least enter the conversation as Silva's next opponent.