When Michael Bisping beat Luke Rockhold for the UFC middleweight title, he effectively blew the doors off the division's title picture. There's really no other way to look at it when a 37-year-old vet sporting a 19-7 UFC record wins the belt. Having losses to fighters like Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort, Rashad Evans, and of course former champ Luke Rockhold (who he beat for the title), there are a number of talents, both aging and young, who could make some claim to a crack at the current champion.
It's not a dynamic lost on Bisping either, who spoke about the contenders picture with Ariel Helwani on the latest edition of the MMA Hour. Bisping took a quick spin through some of the potential top options for his first title defense, and it sounds like Dan Henderson would be the top of his list, if he had it all his own way (Bisping's response starts at about 2:27:35 in the video above):
"Well you know, I mean of course I'm no spring chicken, I'm 37, so it's not like I've got 10 years ahead of me," Bisping admitted to Helwani when asked about his next title shot. "There's certain fights that I want, there's certain people that I would like to get revenge on, and there's certainly viable contenders. So, there's many different ways you could go, with many ways you could look at things. Now, I know Chris Weidman has been bitching on all week. He's getting on [unintelligible]. He's talking about this, that, he's talking about me and directing insults at me and this and that; the fact of the matter is that Chris just lost to the guy that I knocked out. He wasn't scheduled to fight me, he was scheduled for a rematch with Luke Rockhold. So, as far as I'm concerned, Chris Weidman needs to win a fight. Chris Weidman is out of the equation. Chris Weidman is coming off a loss, unless you're called Chael Sonnen, you don't get title shots coming off a loss. Chris needs to go away and win a fight and then beat Rockhold, beat somebody, but he needs to win a fight.
"Jacare of course is a very very viable contender," Bisping continued. "So, he's certainly in the running. A rematch with Luke Rockhold... Again, I think that Luke should rematch Chris and then whoever wins that is probably no. 1 contender. Yes, me and Luke are 1-1, but that first fight was 2 years ago and this rematch wasn't even close. I knocked him out in three minutes, knocked him out cold. Maybe Chris and Luke, they have the match that was scheduled and then that would be the no. 1 contender.
"Of course, there's been talk of Dan Henderson, which kinda came out of the blue. Dan Henderson kinda tweeted something out and then Joe Rogan put a picture on Instagram and it seems to be getting a lot of traction. Of course, that is a fight that I would love. It's not a fight that's been offered or anything like that, but it's a fight that I would take, because everybody knows about UFC 100 and Dan Henderson still has that image of him floating above my head whilst knocked out as his logo. So, I would like to put him in his place. But, there's many options, there's many viable contenders. The UFC hasn't come forward to me yet with an opponent. As I've said many many times, I've never turned down an opponent yet and I certainly don't intend to start turning people down as champion. One thing I would like to do is defend the belt in the UK. So, I would love to defend the belt in Manchester, later in the year. And then also I believe there is some other people floating around in there as well, potential super fights. Maybe you know more about it than me Ariel?"
Well, Henderson or GSP. As Bisping was also quick to give life to rumors that the former welterweight great might consider a UFC return for a shot at the new middleweight champ:
"It kinda has, now that you mention it," Bisping replied when asked if a superfight with GSP had been on his radar. "And I mean, just the words that you said, those words get me really excited. As you say, fighting Georges St-Pierre, the great Georges St-Pierre, and of course, for the title of 'Who has the most wins in UFC history.' That alone as a tagline, and great promotion. Of course, the numbers would be fantastic with Georges St-Pierre, he's a proven draw. And at the end of the day, we're all trying to generate as much money as possible.
"I do want to defend the belt and I want to make as much money as I can in the process," he continued. "So, I would certainly be open to sending Georges St-Pierre back to a movie set, because that would be a fight that I would definitely win. And if Georges St-Pierre is listening: buddy, any time just be a man, sign on the dotted line, and your return will be short lived. But, whether it's Georges St-Pierre, Dan Henderson, Jacare Souza, whoever it is, please line them up and I will knock them down."
So, what do you think? Who should get the next shot at the new middleweight champion?
Who should Bisping fight in his first title defense?
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