This week, following much speculation from the MMA community, it was confirmed that UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping would not be returning to the Octagon to defend his belt this summer.
Subsequently, the UFC announced an interim middleweight title fight between Robert Whittaker and middleweight #1 contender Yoel Romero for UFC 213. While the fight will not be for the undisputed middleweight title, it will pit two of the most dominant middleweights against one another. Whittaker will be stepping into the fight on a 7-fight win streak that has seen him defeat, and finish, numerous high-profile opponents such as Uriah Hall, Derek Brunson, and most recently Jacare Souza. Romero on the other hand has never tasted defeat inside the Octagon,and has gone 8-0, most recently picking up a devastating flying knee KO against Chris Weidman at UFC 205.
On the heels of that fight announcement, Michael Bisping spoke on UFC Tonight to discuss his thoughts on the scrap:
“That doesn’t mean they’re fighting for my title,” Bisping said tonight on “UFC Tonight” on FS1. “Nobody’s fighting for my title right now. Let’s just make this clear: Romero and Whittaker are fighting, and one of them gets a participation award. That’s all it is.”
“I’m not necessarily sure it was the right move, or even the essential move to make. … But the UFC has to do what they have to do. I understand that,” Bisping said. “There are a lot of people in the middleweight division that are complaining, especially when I was supposed to fight GSP, that the division wasn’t moving along. Now I’ve got an injury; it’s taken longer than expected for my return.
“Yes, I think it’s a little premature. But as I said, the UFC has got to do what they’ve got to do. And in my mind this just certainly (will define) the next No. 1 contender.”
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 5/25/2017.