At UFC 110 Michael Bisping fought a closely contented bout with MMA legend Wanderlei Silva, but ultimately lost out via unanimous decision.
The defeat leaves The Ultimate Fighter season three winners record in the octagon at a respectable 8-3, though two of those losses have come in his last three fights.
What’s troubling though is that he has now been dropped at some stage in each of those fights, and on two of those occasions basic errors have proven costly.
In the Dan Henderson fight his insistence on circling into his opponents power allowed his opponent to land the knockout blow, while at this weekend’s bout he retreated straight backwards as Silva charged forward, rather than circling out and away from danger caused him to eat leather.
I believe this tendency to get flustered and make basic mistakes under pressure is likely to continue to prevent Bisping from reaching his over-riding goal to fight for the middleweight title.
That aside he does still have a solid and fairly well rounded skill set, and good conditioning that will continue to present a challenge to anyone he faces. Coupled with the fact that he is firmly cast as the fighter many fans love-to-hate, that means he will remain a significant presence in the upper half of the middleweight division.
So who is he likely to fight next?
There’s a lot of potential match-ups for the UK fighter. He stated in the post-fight press conference that he wants to get into action as soon as possible though, and if his wish is granted that may narrow down the options somewhat.
For instance either Patrick Cote or Alan Belcher immediately strike me as being competitive match-ups for Bisping, but those two are currently set to fight each other in May at UFC 113.
Another name that springs to mind is Kendall Grove. There is a little extra spice to this pairing since both fighters were champions on TUF season 3 (Grove won the middleweight competition while Bisping won the light-heavyweight tournament).
Grove is currently scheduled to fight Mark Munoz at UFC 112 in early April though. If Bisping was willing to wait then I think the winner of this bout would be a decent opponent for the Brit.
Yushin Okami is another likely target, assuming he gets past Lucio Linhares at the UFC on Versus event on the 31st of March.
As far as opponents who are not currently booked to fight, Nate Marquardt is the obvious choice. Out of all the choices mentioned above, this is the one that would generate the most interest among fans. Interestingly Marquardt also shares the same record in the UFC as Bisping, 8-3, and they are both coming off a loss.
While that would certainly be a fight that could immediately put Bisping back into contention in the division I believe it’s a bad match-up for ‘The Count’, and coming off a loss it’s one he should be aiming to avoid.
If he remains determined to fight again in the near future, and wants to fight another big name, then this may well be the bout that he’s talking himself into though.
Personally, I feel holding off for the winner of Belcher Vs Cote makes the most sense for all parties, but as always I’m curious to see what the UFC will come up with.