With so many fights coming up spread across eight different weight classes, it's easy to lose track of what's happening in every division. Here, we take a look at where a particular division stands right now, and where it's headed.
The Middleweight division is an interesting place right now. Like Welterweight and (now) Light Heavyweight, it's ruled over by a completely dominant champion who has effectively cleared out the division. Many of the long-time top contenders like Rich Franklin, Yushin Okami, and Demian Maia have either left the division or are drifting into irrelevance, leaving a bit of a gap at the top.
To fill that gap, we're seeing a nice new crop of talent stepping up at 185. Fighters like Chris Weidman, Mark Munoz, and Tim Boetsch represent a new wave of possible contenders to Silva's throne, potentially replacing the older and previously vanquished guard. The question is, can any of these up and comers actually dethrone the champion? Honestly, I don't see it happening.
This is a huge fight, perhaps the biggest in the history of the UFC Middleweight division. The story is everything you could ask for. On one side, the dominant champion who has defeated everyone he has faced inside the Octagon with his precision striking. On the other side, the only man to ever have him in trouble in the UFC, the loud-mouth who was suspended after their last fight for his use of a banned substance. No matter what you think of Chael, this is a huge, huge fight.
After Sonnen vs. Silva, things get muddy. If Sonnen wins, it throws the doors wide open for future contenders. But if Silva wins again, who will be next? My guess would be that if Michael Bisping defeats Tim Boetsch that same night, Bisping will get the next shot. If not, I'd say the Munoz vs. Weidman winner is your best bet, but either of those men against Silva doesn't sound right to me.
More in the full article.
Key Match Ups:
Four other upcoming fights highlight possible contenders. Not all of these men are title-ready right now, but could be put in high profile possible title eliminators next depending how these fights go.
- #15 Rousimar Palhares vs. #18 Alan Belcher (UFC on Fox: Miller vs. Diaz, May 5)
- #4 Vitor Belfort vs. #19 Wanderlei Silva (UFC 147, June 23)
- #5 Michael Bisping vs. #6 Tim Boetsch (UFC 148, July 7)
- #3 Mark Munoz vs. #9 Chris Weidman (UFC on FUEL TV, July 11)
Other Notable Fights:
A few more fights that don't highlight the very elite at 185, but still are worth a close look for one reason or another.
- Jason Miller vs. C.B. Dollaway (UFC 146, May 26)
- Rich Franklin vs. Cung Le (UFC 148, July 7)
- Constantinos Philippou vs. Riki Fukuda (UFC 148, July 7)
Waiting in the Wings:
Here are the division's most notable fighters that are currently unscheduled. Of these, recent signee Lombard is the most intriguing, as I am curious to see who he gets paired up with for his debut. I'm also interested in how Shields will do at his return to MW. If I were doing some fantasy booking, I'd just pair these guys up and go with Stann vs. Lombard and Okami vs. Shields.
All the Rest:
And finally, all the remaining Middleweight fights currently signed.
- Mike Massenzio vs. Karlos Vemola (UFC on Fox: Miller vs. Diaz, May 5)
- Tom Lawlor vs. Jason MacDonald (UFC on FUEL TV: Korean Zombie vs. Poirier, May 15)
- Brad Tavares vs. Dongi Yang (UFC on FUEL TV: Korean Zombie vs. Poirier, May 15)
- Buddy Roberts vs. Caio Magalhaes (UFC on FX: Johnson vs. McCall, June 8)
- Nick Catone vs. Chris Camozzi (UFC on FX: Maynard vs. Guida, June 22)
- Nick Ring vs. Court McGee (UFC 149, July 21)
Rankings based on the USA Today / SB Nation consensus rankings, dated March 29, 2012.