Does Michael Bisping deserve an interim title shot?

Maybe when Chael Sonnen was rubbing Michael Bisping’s face in the mat back in January, some of Chael’s infamous personality rubbed off on him as well.

Bisping has always been a lout, drawing ire from a number of fighters in his weight class (and drawing extra damage from an angry Dan Henderson as well – jump ahead to 17:50) for his boorish behavior.  Now he’s aping Sonnen’s outspoken self-promotion as well, calling for the UFC to authorize his next fight against Vitor Belfort (at UFC on FX: Belfort vs. Bisping in January) as an interim title belt decider after Anderson Silva announced he won’t be defending his belt anytime soon.

Wait, what?  Michael Bisping certainly has an impressive resume, with wins over a number of other luminaries of the middleweight division (Brian Stann, Yoshihiro Akiyama, etc), and the only person to beat him in the last 2.5 years is Chael Sonnen, who’s moved out of the division, but a loss is a loss.  Meanwhile, Belfort certainly has looked very good lately – the only two defeats in his last 10 outings were to Jon Jones and Anderson Silva.  I don’t need to remind you that those guys are both basically impossible to beat.  MMAWeekly thinks Bisping and Belfort are the two top middleweights after Silva, and mmajay only has Chris Weidman higher.

Oh right.  Remember Chris Weidman?  He’s the guy we were all saying should be up next against Silva after his eye-opening knockout of Mark Munoz (eye-opening for fans that is…for Munoz it was eye-glazing).  And he’s been practically crying for a title shot.  While Bisping and Belfort can, of course, point out their cumulative win counts in UFC competition, Weidman can point to his cumulative losses: 0.  It’s hard to see how Belfort, who lost a title fight in the division not that long ago, and Bisping, who lost a title eliminator earlier this year, should surge ahead of Weidman.

And the even bigger question looms: should there even be an interim title?  Dana will have to decide this after talking to Anderson Silva.  Silva’s always been a bit cagy about his intentions, first talking about moving to boxing, then talking about fighting for five more years after his recent crushing of Stephan Bonnar’s solar plexus.*  If he wants to take a short break, that’s fine, he’s earned it after consistently logging fights for years, and stepping up against Bonnar on short notice.  That said, at some point we want to see those belts on the line.  So if Silva wants to relax and sip mai-tais on the Copacabana beach, he deserves the time off, but we need an interim champ.

Since we just don’t know whether Silva is serious about this long layoff, it doesn’t make sense to start getting worked up about interim titles.  Chris Weidman fights at the end of the year, then Bisping and Belfort fight in January.  If Weidman wins and Silva isn’t interested in taking him on, then Dana White should do this: schedule a late spring/summer interim title fight between Weidman and the Bisping-Belfort winner.  We’ll get a championship fight, Silva will get the break he deserves and when he comes back he can try to unify or look into one of those superfights we the fans are always salivating over.

In the meantime, Bisping should focus on winning against the very dangerous Belfort, Silva should take some time to think about what he really wants to do next, and we should all just relax and look forward to GSP’s big comeback in a few days.

*There’s a part of me that thinks Anderson Silva is even being cagy about not challenging GSP at UFC 154, just to throw us all off so when he does throw down the gauntlet and demand the biggest fight in the history of the UFC we’ll all jump out of our chairs.  If that happens then obviously this whole article is moot.

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