Ever since UFC veteran Michael Bisping was able to score a knocked out Luke Rockhold last year at UFC 199 to claim the UFC middleweight title, the division has been backlogged and placed in a complicated spot.
Despite that the division is one of the most loaded weight classes in the UFC and hosts various top names, they have yet to challenge Bisping for the title. Bisping instead first defended his belt against barely ranked middleweight Dan Henderson.
Robert Whittaker put together quite the resume by defeating two top-five opponents to claim an interim middleweight title as a way of keeping the division moving.
Former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre was able to win the title from Bisping by rear-naked choke at the recent UFC 217 PPV event. Logic booking would say that GSP and Whittaker would be the next fight to make. However, that may not be the case.
Although GSP is claiming that he is contractually obligated to defend the middleweight title, there are several people who have doubt that this will happen.
One of those people is Rockhold, who stated to Submission Radio (transcript courtesy of MMA Fighting) that he doesn’t believe St-Pierre will fight Whittaker. He also thinks that the UFC should not allow St-Pierre to drop down and face welterweight champion Tyron Woodley without stripping him of the title.
“Unfortunately it sounds like we have a hold up and it’s gonna take some time to iron out what’s next. . . I know [St-Pierre] is contractually obligated to defend his belt but as we all heard on the mic, he’s backtracking and he’s trying to find his way out, seemingly. .
“I think it’s ridiculous if they were to let him hold onto it and not pull that. Let him relinquish that and go down to fight Tyron like it sounds like he wants to do. I think they should just get back to what made this company what it is. You go too far down the wrong trail and there’s no turning back. You go too far into Conor McGregor land and you get that fight going and the whole thing is a mess. They need to just put the best against the best in each division and stop jumping around.”
Rockhold thinks that he is the best in the division and he’d like to prove it against Whittaker. He will go as far as fighting Whittaker in his own backyard.
“I’m ready to go and I know Whittaker is ready to go. Obviously he sees GSP and he wants his payday but is he gonna get that? How long is he gonna drag his feet for? I’m ready to move forward with the division and get things going.
“I’ve talked about [fighting Whittaker at UFC Perth] with the UFC and it is potentially on the table but I’m not going out there to fight for the interim title. GSP needs to figure it out. He needs to move on, get out, and really, Robert Whittaker is the real champion. Bisping lost that title, in my eyes, a long time ago when he decided to fight guys outside the top ten, and welterweights for that matter. He earned it. He got the title but Whittaker’s been the man for the last year. He’s fought Jacare, he’s fought Yoel, he’s fought the top contenders and that’s what it takes to be the champion. In my eyes, Whittaker’s the champ. So I’ll be ready to go to Perth, it’s just a matter of how this whole thing plays out.
“I know Whittaker obviously wants that fight [with St-Pierre], as he should, but I don’t think he’s gonna get it. I’m more than willing to move on and take him on in Perth. I love Australia and the kids a stud and I’d be honored to fight him.“
UFC 221 is slated to take place next February in Perth, Australia, which is where Whittaker was raised. There is a ton of speculation right now that the promotion will want him to headline the event. However, the belief right now is that GSP will take some time off and even if he does end up fighting Whittaker then it would take place late Spring of 2018.
“If [the UFC] wait, obviously everyone knows what I want: it’s Bisping and if it’s his last fight and he’s going to London, the man says he didn’t get lucky, the man says he’s better than me, he’s been running his mouth forever, then put your money where your mouth is. I’ll go show up on your front doorstep and I’ll take your head off in London. It would be my pleasure. Step up.
“If he’s gonna go fight again, there’s no one else he should fight. If he’s gonna go step into the cage again, there’s no one else he should fight right now. It’s me and him, that’s what it should be. If he’s gonna run away like most of us expect him to do, I think it’s a very telling situation. But if you’re gonna fight again you better damn well believe I should be the guy.”
“I want to see what the f**k happens. GSP needs to make up his mind and the UFC needs to make up their minds. We’ll see what happens. . . I think you can expect something announced here shortly. I would imagine they’re pretty eager to figure this thing out.”