The UFC’s middleweight division has seen some bad light these past few years, due to the state of the division as a whole as well as the inability to dethrone the champ. Fans had been waiting to see who at 185 could give Anderson Silva a good run for his money, but “The Spider” continued his rule.
Then came along Chael Sonnen.
In their fight, Sonnen gave the biggest beating to Silva than he had received as an accumulation of his entire career. Silva got the submission finish, but it still took some luster away from his shiny armor of invincibility. Without a question in people’s minds, the rematch was coming.
Sonnen was suspended following the fight due to his TRT levels, and thus the rematch was postponed. Silva went on to beat Belfort and Okami, and Sonnen came back following the suspension and beat Brian Stann.
The rematch was put back in motion, but Silva’s injury forced the UFC to postpone it once again. Mark Munoz, the No. 1 contender, was then put in front of Chael Sonnen. Chael Sonnen has since taken to the media and expressed that Munoz was not his next fight and hinted that it would, in fact, be the winner of Jason Miller vs. Michael Bisping.
While Miller and Bisping have their own fight to worry about, the two middleweights that are at the top right now are Munoz and Sonnen. In order to determine the true contender and justify the title shot for Sonnen, the original Sonnen vs. Munoz needs to take place.
What you have with this matchup is the two “No. 1 contenders.” Statistically, Mark Munoz is the top contender, being one of the few on a solid four-fight win streak at 185 against some good opponents. He is one win ahead of Bisping, who could tie it all up if he beats Miller on Saturday.
On the other hand, you have Chael Sonnen. Chael Sonnen is coming off of only one win that was preceded by a suspension and a loss.
In the public eye, however, he is the most worthy of fighting for the title next. He is the top contender in the sense that he is the best and biggest challenge to Silva in the majority perspective. The rematch is the fight fans want to see and will generate one of the highest revenues for a UFC event to date.
One fighter is the deserving contender, the other the desired.
Having the two of them fight is the way to clearly define who is the true No. 1 contender for the belt. It would be a definitive semifinal to lead up to the Brazilian champ.
The only other factor to look at with Sonnen is the result of Miller vs. Bisping. Sonnen is saying that his next fight is with the winner, but given the timing, who knows how the next title shot will be issued? If Bisping dominates Miller in an impressive fashion, he would statistically rival Munoz in contention, but another factor would be if Dan Henderson wanted to throw his name into the hat.
June 2012 is the slated estimate of when Silva will be back in the Octagon, giving plenty of time for Bisping and Miller to fight and for Sonnen to fight the winner in between, but the margin is close. Following the time when Sonnen would fight the winner, it would be around March or April before that could happen. If Sonnen won that, he would have a quick turnaround if Silva gets put on a card in June.
Sonnen is a guy who will fight on two-seconds notice, but two months is not enough for some in preparation for a title fight. In this equation, you have to wonder where Munoz falls in this picture as well.
With the cluster of names in the mix, having Sonnen and Munoz fight to determine who gets the next shot is the best route. Bisping and Miller will fight and—based on that result—Bisping may not even be in the mix. If Miller wins, he still probably needs one more fight before his shot.
Sonnen fighting Munoz also helps silence the critics who think Sonnen shouldn’t be getting a title shot at all, much less a rematch. By beating Munoz, it follows the same line as Urijah Faber; losing the title match, beating the No. 1 contender and then being put back into the title-shot talks.
When it comes down to it, the best decision that helps define the middleweight division and the contenders for the title is the original idea of Sonnen vs. Munoz. The fight itself is an exciting prospect, and the result is indisputable. The winner of that fight is the most worthy and true contender for Anderson Silva’s belt.
In the words of Big John McCarthy, “Let’s get it on!”