The top of the UFC middleweight division is all messed up right now. You have a champion, Anderson Silva, who doesn't think the top contender (Chris Weidman) is worthy of a title shot. He said as much at the UFC 153 post-fight press conference. You have another good draw (Michael Bisping) that could be inserted into a title shot and it would sell, but anyone who knows anything thinks that fight is totally one-sided. Then you have a few other contenders that are jockeying for position as well. Today I'm going to pretend I'm Joe Silva (I'm like twice the size of Joe, but whatever), and I'm going to do some armchair booking for the middleweight division. Here are five fights I would make for early 2013.
1. Mark Munoz vs. Brian Stann - Both guys are coming off a loss, both are former WEC light heavyweights, and both seem likely genuinely good guys. I think it'd be a good marker to see who is a legitimate top 10 guy and who is slightly below that level.
2. Vitor Belfort vs. Wanderlei Silva - This bout was set for UFC 147 but fell through. Dana White didn't want to go back to it after that because Silva lost to Rick Franklin, but now that Belfort has dropped a fight as well (to Jon Jones), it could work. They're both pretty popular, and there are a lot of storylines there.
3. Hector Lombard/Rousimar Palhares winner vs. Chris Leben/Karlos Vemola winner - If Leben gets by Vemola, you know the UFC wants to get him back in the mix as soon as possible. What better way than to stick him in there with a beastly striker like Lombard or a crazy submission threat like Palhares?
4. Jake Shields vs. Yushin Okami/Alan Belcher winner - Yes Shields is suspended until February, but the Okami/Belcher fight doesn't go down until late December anyway. Shields has history with Okami, and a fight with Belcher would be pretty interesting as well. Shields does only have one win in the UFC at 185 and it wasn't exactly crowd-pleasing, but I think he'd be a good challenge for either guy.
5. Chris Weidman/Tim Boetsch winner vs. Michael Bisping - This is probably the biggest no-brainer of the bunch. If Silva wants to fight Georges St. Pierre and won't defend his title anytime soon, this is about the only thing that makes sense. Weidman and Bisping are the two top contenders at the moment, and Boetsch was scheduled to meet Bisping earlier in the year. No matter who wins the December bout between Weidman and Boetsch, there's a natural matchup with Bisping there. And it'll allow some time for one true contender to develop while Silva is fighting out of the division once again.