A major middleweight bout in UFC has been made, though it may be one that shouldn't have been.
Michael Bisping and Vitor Belfort will main-event UFC's return to Brazil on January 19; the show will not be a pay-per-view card, rather the next live UFC card on FX. This almost acts as a middleweight title eliminator bout alongside the Chris Weidman/Tim Boetsch bout scheduled for December 29 at UFC 155. As for what will happen to the two winners, that really depends on who the winners are.
As for Bisping, the fact that he now has to fight Belfort instead of getting the middleweight title shot says to this writer that Bisping is probably never going to get a shot at the UFC middleweight championship. That is, unless he beats Belfort. If that happens, it's virtually impossible to deny him a title shot. If Bisping loses to Belfort, yeah, he's never getting a title shot.
People supporting Weidman or Boetsch may not want to hear this, but in reality it's pretty amazing that UFC still won't give “The Count” a title shot.
From the day Bisping first arrived in UFC, he has gotten massive hype and fanfare from the promotion in the hopes that he would become a star. In his home country of England, he is one and has been in the main-event of most UFC cards in England. On top of that, he rarely loses, and when he does lose it is against a very credible opponent and only hurts his stature by giving people the opening to call him a choker in big fights. There is some truth to that, but the fact still remains that Bisping is the biggest name left in the middleweight division who hasn't challenged Anderson Silva for the title.
Weidman and Boetsch aren't stars, not yet at least. With Weidman, he's definitely a star in the making while Boetsch's biggest problem is that his fights lack action and excitement most of the time. Putting either of these two in the main-event of a pay-per-view, even if it is with Silva, and expect them to make people want to buy the card for $45 might be a stretch unless the card is loaded enough. But Bisping would give people more of a reason to buy a show with him taking on Silva for the belt because he's been around so much longer in UFC and thus this fanbase knows him very well, and would have more reason to want to pay to see him in a title fight.
This writer is aware (as those in UFC are) that convincing almost anyone that someone in the middleweight division other than Chael Sonnen is going to dethrone Silva as champion is next to impossible now, but that is what promoting a fight is all about, right? With Bisping, you have more to work with in promoting a fight with Silva than with Weidman, Boetsch, or Belfort. And Belfort did draw well with Silva in the main-event of a UFC show with Silva's belt on the line in early 2011, but Belfort was knocked out quick. That alone would make the rematch somewhat difficult to promote when the goal would be to make people believe this bout would be more competitive than the first one.
This writer doesn't consider himself a Bisping fan by any stretch of the imagination, but with UFC trying to find new challengers for Silva in the middleweight division, it would be a good place to start by giving an established middleweight contender his first crack at the title before looking for the next big thing in the division.
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