Everything would have been much easier had Michael Bisping defeated Vitor Belfort this past Saturday night at UFC on FX 7 in Brazil. The outspoken Brit would’ve earned a shot at UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva and the rest of the contenders would’ve waited until that bout happened before being able to stake their claim as the next one to face the middleweight champion, regardless of who it may have been.
Unfortunately Bisping got knocked out and now the big question is who will face Silva next and when will it happen. Chris Weidman seems to be the obvious choice once he is healed up from the shoulder surgery that forced him out his bout against Tim Boetsch at UFC 155 on December 29. The undefeated Serra-Longo fighter has gone on record as saying he deserves the shot and he has the tools to finally end Silva’s long reign atop the middleweight division.
When Weidman went down a teammate of his stepped up in his place and made the most of his opportunity as Costa Philippou faced Boetsch on short notice and extended his winning streak to five with a third round TKO over the Barbarian. Philippou has defeated Jorge Rivera, Jared Hamman, Court McGee, Riki Fukuda and Boetsch since dropping his UFC debut to Nick Catone at UFC 128 in what was a 195lb. catchweight bout. The win over Boetsch seems to have vaulted the former Ring of Combat Middleweight Champion into the top 10 middleweight rankings.
Many of the other top middleweights have fights scheduled including Hector Lombard and Yushin Okami who will face one another at UFC on Fuel TV 8 in Japan on March 3. Belfort himself is looking to fight Jon Jones again or Chael Sonnen, but either way his loss to Silva at UFC 126 is still fresh in everyone’s minds, so don’t expect to see him standing across the cage from the champ any time soon. Luke Rockhold, the Strikeforce Middleweight Champion isn’t ready to fight so that leaves Philippou looking for a fight with a top 10 opponent.
The UFC normally doesn’t like to match fighters coming off of a loss with a fighter on a winning streak, but in this case making a Bisping-Philippou fight makes too much sense. Philippou needs another win over a legitimate top 10 opponent and Bisping still fits that criteria. While the loss to Belfort lowers The Count’s stock he still has huge name recognition and presents a tough match-up for any middleweight. Everyone has a bad night and gets caught, unfortunately for Bisping he seems to have those nights every time he is just about to grab the brass ring he has been looking to obtain for so long.
The UFC will be returning to England in July and a win over Bisping in the main event of a Fuel TV of FX card in front of his hometown fans will give Philippou the huge win he needs and will allow him to stake his claim at a middleweight title shot. His last five wins are nice, but they would pale in comparison to beating England’s poster boy in his own backyard. Now that Philippou has a solid management team behind him he can expect a huge push and why not help his own cause by calling out the The Ultimate Fighter season two winner?
Sonnen has proven time and time again, your performances inside the Octagon will only get you so far. You have to be prepared and capable of drawing attention to yourself. Once you have the fans and the media talking about you, the UFC will undoubtedly begin to have a keener interest in you. Dana White and crew have also shown with their recent actions that the most deserving contender isn’t always the one who gets the shot at the champion.Tags: Anderson Silva, Chris Weidman, Costa Philippou, Court McGee, featured, Hector Lombard, jared hamman, jorge rivera, Luke Rockhold, Michael Bisping, MMA NEWS, riki fukada, Strikeforce, tim boetsch, UFC 126, UFC 128, UFC 155, ufc news, ufc on fuel 8, ufc on fx 7, Vitor Belfort, yushin okami