UFC veteran Michael Bisping kept hope alive for a possible 185-pound title shot yesterday (Sat., July 18, 2015), edging formerly rising Thales Leites with a close split decision (highlights here) in the main event of UFC Fight Night 72 from the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland, the UFC’s debut on Scottish soil.
It marked the second straight win of a mini resurgence for Bisping, who should now be headed for a top-ranked challenge in his next fight. Although he came out of the win with a gruesome toe injury, ‘The Count’ not surprisingly called out former foes Vitor Belfort and Dan Henderson, two legends who knocked him out during the heyday of the controversial testosterone-replacement therapy (TRT), at the post-fight press conference.
Those are certainly two interesting rematches, but there are also a few other solid bouts that stand in the way of Bisping finally getting his long-awaited title shot. Let’s take a look:
5.) Dan Henderson:
Although Bisping understandably pegged Henderson, who got back on track with a 28-second knockout of Tim Boetsch in June, this one’s a long shot, as ‘Hendo’ recently said he probably wouldn’t grant Bisping a rematch because he likes knowing that he’ll always have quite possibly the most infamous knockout of all-time over him from at historic UFC 100.
That could be a good stance for Henderson, because he wouldn’t be able to top that performance. The fight also doesn’t make much sense for Bisping if he really wants to get a title shot after his next fight, because Henderson is currently ranked at No. 13.
But it’s tough to deny that the rematch would be absolutely massive. It would be, so if the UFC can potentially throw enough money at Hendo to make it happen, ‘The Count’ would certainly sign on for a pay-per-view (PPV) co-main or to headline a FOX Sports 1 card.
4.) Anderson Silva:
This fight is another long shot of a match-up that Bisping has wanted for quite some time. The stars never aligned during Silva’s illustrious reign atop the UFC 185-pound roost, as Bisping always seemed to lose the fight that would have put him over the top.
Silva is obviously temporarily suspended for failing multiple drug tests for anabolic steroids, anti-anxiety medicine, and sleeping aids prior to and following his UFC 183 win over Nick Diaz, but a second drug test recently came back negative, prompting speculation that ‘The Spider’ could potentially get off when he finally appears before the NSAC.
The decorated former champion has been suspended since January anyway, so he could have potentially served most of any suspension he might get. It would be a high-profile match-up that would do wonders for Bisping’s title shot hopes if he were to win.
In fact, it would most likely get him one. This dream match remains an improbable one, but it still remains in the background as one of the best fights Bisping could sign on for next.
3.) Yoel Romero:
Here’s an incredibly tough match-up that, if ‘The Soldier of God’ doesn’t sign on for an obvious fight with Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, could be an excellent test for both fighters to prove their readiness to contend for the belt.
Romero would be the overwhelming favorite over Bisping, and he’s also a polarizing personality due to his controversial post-fight speech after he beat Lyoto Machida in the main event of June 27’s UFC Fight Night 70. But ‘The Count’ has exhibited excellent takedown defense, and if he could remain on the outside to pick ‘Soldier of God’ apart, a win over Romero would undoubtedly put him tantalizingly close to a title shot. That’s easier said than done against the dominant Olympic silver medalist wrestler.
The same could be said for Romero, who, if he were to win, would probably win in different and more destructive fashion.
2.) Gegard Mousasi:
This would be an excellent test for Bisping to prove himself against another Top 10-ranked challenge in the decorated former Strikeforce and DREAM champion Mousasi. With a patient, almost lackadaisical style, ‘The Dreamcatcher’ could make for a boring fight with Bisping, who obviously prefers to outland his opponents with accurate but not necessarily powerful punches from a distance.
Mousasi also wouldn’t fall for any of Bisping’s pre-fight antics, instead choosing to carry himself with the stoicism of a statue waiting for his chance to strike. It can’t be denied that this fight makes a lot of sense for both men based on the rankings, but it would most likely be a closely contested decision that would be deemed a letdown by casual fans due to Bisping’s buildup.
We could certainly see this fight, and it might propel Bisping to a title shot. On the other hand, with so many worthy top contenders at the top of the division, he’d probably need another big win after Mousasi to truly cement his shot at gold.
1.) Vitor Belfort:
Here’s the fight that could make the most sense for ‘The Count,’ as his archrival ‘Phenom’ still has a lofty No. 4 ranking intact after a devastating first round TKO loss to champion Chris Weidman at UFC 187.
The two enemies already have a bitter backstory pre-installed after Belfort started his insane 2013 by knocking out Bisping at UFC on FX 7, providing instant hype to a rematch that carries a different angle considering that Belfort’s TRT has now been banned and he looks like a completely different man according to ‘The Count.’
It would potentially be a top win for Bisping to finally get his UFC title fight. The fight would be emotional, action-packed, and the lead up would be an entertaining trash talk battle that would simply make it must-see T.V.
Now word on how ‘The Phenom’ feels about a rematch with ‘The Count,’ but this looks like the contest that makes the most sense for the brash Brit to prove that he’s finally ready to contend for a UFC championship at the age of 36 years old.