The middleweight division in the UFC is quite possibly the most intriguing division in the world of mixed martial arts. As of right now, there is no title fight set in stone. Champion Michael Bisping has spent most of his title reign arguing with many fighters in his division, most notably the number one contender Yoel Romero. Any fan who follows the division closely knows that Romero versus Bisping is the fight to make. Romero is deserving of a title shot with his most recent victory a memorable and brutal knockout victory against former champion, Chris Weidman. This victory put the Cuban at the top of the mountain, especially as recent injury and loss have ruled out Luke Rockhold and Jacare Souza respectively.
While most fans would love to see this bout, the unlikely champion, and the deserving contender, the UFC has instead promised a title fight to Georges St. Pierre. While many fans are excited about GSP’s return, they believe that the bout is not fair to the rest of the middleweight division. This frustration has only increased following GSP’s announcement that he will not be able to compete until October! This means that Bisping has not been active for sixteen months!
The matchmakers ultimately decide who is next in line. This is undoubtedly a difficult job to do, It is clear that St. Pierre is the favored option by the UFC as star power is currently at a minimum with an inactive McGregor, an unreliable Jones and a struggling Rousey. If Romero isn’t the one who the UFC believes should get the next opportunity the rest of the division will be in limbo.
Any fighter in their right mind shouldn’t risk what they have achieved if it doesn’t get them closer to the title! An example is Jacare Souza. Jacare was ranked in the top five of the division and was scheduled to face Luke Rockhold. It was a fight that fell through due to Rockhold becoming injured. The Brazilian wanted a fight, pleading to the UFC to give him one. The UFC obliged and set up about between him and Tim Boetsch at UFC 208. He didn’t have anything to gain from the fight, with Boetsch not included within the top ten of the division. Jacare would go on to win but it was a risk and a big one at that. This policy of taking fights against fighters outside of the top ten would hinder his claim of being a top contender, and in as tight a division as the middleweights, he has been ill advised!
Robert Whittaker has emerged as the dark horse of the division. Whittaker was on a six-fight win streak when it was decided that he would be the one to take on Souza next. Before the fight, Souza and the UFC came to terms and restructured his contract securing him eight more fights in the future. Whittaker shocked Souza and the MMA world by out-performing the supposedly unstoppable Brazilian. Now ranked third in the division, the next move for Whittaker could be taking on the last man to be the champion, Luke Rockhold.
As of late Rockhold has posted on social media that he has started a training camp. It is likely that his path will cross wit Whittaker, seeing as it makes the most sense for both parties. Rockhold has used the time recovering from injury wisely. He has been developing his personal brand.
Gegard Mousasi is currently a free agent following his controversial victory against Chris Weidman. In an attempt to garner interest, the usually quiet Dutch man has been the one making the most noise in the division. He is on a five fight win streak which gives him bargaining power. His latest victory against at UFC 210 was a perfect representation of the current situation that the middleweight fighters find themselves in. Weidman has been calling for a rematch against Mousasi, feeling that he has a tainted loss on his record.
The “All-American” now has a three-fight losing streak, the last time Weidman recorded a victory was back in 2015, a title defense defended against Vitor Belfort. It’s doubtful that should Mousasi sign a new contract the UFC, he would appease Weidman by giving him the rematch. It is clear that Mousasi has his eyes on the UFC middleweight gold. No ink to paper yet could see Mousasi moving on instead, he has a positive relationship with Bellator MMA CEO Scott Coker following their past relationship at Strikeforce. Mousasi has been very vocal about his dislike of the current pay deal he is on. Bellator could offer him a better deal, we’ve already seen some fighters opting out of returning to the UFC to go for a bigger payday and a better opportunity to earn more money outside of the current Reebok deal.
There is much yet to be decided, the UFC has work to do to sort this whole mess out. The legendary Anderson Silva has even been calling for his release, such is his frustration with the new owners. The only fight Silva wants is against Romero for an interim title. A fight that makes less sense than St. Pierre taking on Bisping. There are mouth-watering matchups to be made, that will intrigue both ardent and casual fans. Hopefully, we don’t have to wait until the end of the year to see any of these top 185 lbs fighters back in action.