After this past weekend’s UFC Melbourne, the Middleweight division now has a better picture of where some of the contenders stand:
Champion – Michael Bisping
Coming off his first title defense against Dan Henderson, Michael Bisping now has to show the divison that he’s the man to beat. After nearly being knocked out by the now-retired Henderson, there will be many challengers hungry to take his strap from him. I think the likely fight is Yoel Romero.
No. 1 Middleweight – Yoel Romero
Romero just came off of a spectacular knockout finish of Chris Weidman at UFC 205 to increase his UFC win streak to 8 in a row. After the fight, he was told that he would be given the shot at the belt, something he said he has been blessed with. He said in a backstage interview that Bisping once asked him for help, so any trash talk is confusing to him, as the current champion asked for help in wrestling, a specialty of the Olympian. He took to twitter and hinted towards the fight happening January 21st, and if it does, buckle in because it’s going to be a helluva ride.
No. 2 Middleweight – Luke Rockhold
The former Middlewight champion, who had to pull out of UFC Melbourne due to injury, recently said he is looking to return to the octagon around spring time, just in time to fight the winner of Yoel and Bisping. He says, outside of a title shot, he is only interested in fighting Jacare as he sees it as the only certain path to another title shot. That was a fight I was looking forward to seeing, and I would be ecstatic if they rebooked it.
No. 5 Middleweight – Gegard Mousasi
Mousasi is on a 4 fight win streak, and has done it rather quietly, racking up wins over Vitor Belfort and Uriah Hall most recently. Winning his last three by knockout, he’s turned himself into a very fun fighter to watch, but he is at an awkward in-between spot in the ranks: not quite elite enough at the moment to be one win away from a title shot, but the only men above him are either booked, only wanting one specific fight, or on a losing streak. That makes it difficult to find a match for the veteran, but he asked to fight a higher ranking. Chris Weidman fits that bill, but it is a matter of how soon can he return after the vicious knockout he suffered at the hands of Yoel Romero. Mousasi is in a tricky spot, but tune in to whoever he gets put up against next.
No. 7 Middleweight – Robert Whittaker
Coming fresh off of a wild knockout finish of Derek Brunson this past weekend at UFC Melbourne, Whittaker established himself as a legitimate contender. He said he believes it is his time for a title run, and I can’t blame him; he’s on a 6 fight win streak, with 3 of his victories coming over ranked Middleweights. So assuming he will have his wish granted, I think an Anderson Silva matchup would make for compelling TV, and grant him another step up in competition. I’m sure Whittaker would relish the opportunity to fight such a legend in the sport. He could also fight Gegard Mousasi, who likes to stay active. I could see that fight happening if Weidman wants to take some time off and Mousasi wants another fight. Either way, watch out for “The Reaper” as his fast hands have been scalping Middleweight’s best.