With his win at the weekend Michael Bisping has now compiled a four-fight winning streak making him one of the leading contenders to face current middleweight champion Anderson Silva at some stage in 2012, but does he merit a title shot?
Given his reputation as one of the most hated fighters in the sport the answer that many fans would immediately give to this question is a resounding ‘no.’
People often back that up by pointing out that he hasn’t fought many tough opponents during his time in the UFC, and if you’re asking on the internet then you’ll invariably be confronted before long with a GIF of Dan Henderson knocking out the UK fighter in the most brutal of fashion at UFC 100.
The first point can be ignored – a fighter’s personality has no bearing on whether he should fight for the title or not. similarly, while the KO defeat to ‘Hendo’ was undquestionably a devastating loss, it still marks his only loss inside the distance in his 25 fight career, and he’s managed to avoid a similar fate against a string of other heavy-hitters like Wanderlei Silva, Chris Leben, Rashad Evans and Jorge Rivera.
So really it all boils down to his record, a current four fight winning streak and 8-2 overall in the UFC’s middleweight division (4-1 at light-heavyweight).
It should be kept in mind that we already know that he will have to win one more fight before being granted a shot at the belt, and if he is able to do so I do believe that he would warrant that opportunity.
As you can see below, in terms of past title contenders for Silva in recent years, no-one has required more than five wins to get to the No.1 contender spot.
Middleweight Title Contenders – Number of wins to earn title shot:
- Yushin Okami – 3 wins in a row
- Vitor Belfort – 1 win (5-0 when considering his bouts outwith the promotion leading up to the fight)
- Chael Sonnen: 3 wins in a row
- Demain Maia: 1 win (5-1 in the UFC overall)
- Thales Leites: 5 wins
- Patrick Cote: 4 wins in the UFC (5-0 if you include one bout outwith the promotion)
It’s not just the number of wins people are concerned with however, but the quality of opponent. Based on that Bisping doesn’t have the most impressive run, consisting of Dan Miller, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Jorge Rivera and Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller so far.
His next fight, which is rumored to be taking place at ‘UFC On FOX 2’ is expected to feature a quality opponent though – with Demian Maia and Brian Stann two of the front-runners to be facing him. A win over either of those two, ranked 5th and 8th in the consensus rankings at this moment in time, would certainly bolster his resume significantly.
Some may still argue that’s not good enough, but let’s keep in mind that Thales Leites road to the title consisted of wins over divisional also-rans like Drew McFredries and Ryan Jensen, while Patrick Cote’s biggest wins were against Ricardo Almeida and Kendall Grove.
Demain Maia’s biggest win in the UFC at the time was against Chael Sonnen, but that was before he had a sudden surge in form, while the rest of his victories came against people like Dan Miller and Nate Quarry.
If the question was whether Bisping stands a chance against Silva then I’d stand shoulder to shoulder with the vast majority and say ‘no!’.
Then again, I didn’t give most of Silva’s other challengers much of a chance either, and I’d rather see someone new be given a chance than wheel back in the likes of Maia or Okami who have already had their ass handed to them by ‘The Spider’.
The truth is that the middleweight division just isn’t that strong and certainly isn’t bursting at the seams with opponents that are wielding the kind of CV that’s going to fast-track them to a bout with the world’s best fighter.
Realistically with one more win under his belt Bisping would be just as qualified as anyone else to get his day in the sun.