Put aside your loathing of Michael Bisping for a second, take emotion out of the equation and take a look at what you have in front of you. If you do that, an objective look at the middleweight picture shows that "the Count" is getting a raw deal.
As far as the UFC is concerned, there are at least two fighters in the division ahead of him in the race to challenge Anderson Silva for the championship: Chael Sonnen and Mark Munoz. The two fighters recently agreed to face each other in January, with No. 1 contendership on the line.
But Bisping? He will have to continue to wait. even though his four-fight win streak is just as long as Munoz's run, and Sonnen has exactly one win in a row. Bisping will likely have to win at least two more times until he can fight for a title.
It is a problem partially borne of the UFC's inflexible event scheduling. When a show is announced, it must be populated, sometimes against logic. Like the time Demian Maia got a title shot against Silva with a one-fight win streak, or the time Thales Leites got one after beating journeyman Drew McFedries. Not to say Maia and Leites weren't credible fighters, but at the time, they were more the beneficiaries of lucky timing than the obvious choices based on merit.
For Bisping (22-3), timing has worked against him. Four wins in a row doesn't get you automatic inclusion to fight for gold, but my point is that he has every bit the resume that either Sonnen or Munoz has, but is the odd man out.
In a perfect world, Sonnen would wait and face Silva when the champion gets healthy somewhere around the summer of 2012, and Bisping and Munoz would square off with the winner becoming the top contender in waiting.
That would be a fair and equitable solution to the logjam. It would guarantee the UFC two credible challengers to the middleweight title picture over the next several months, but it would also offer the UFC less flexibility in filling its events during that time, and therein lies the rub.
So for now, the UFC is practically forced to remain a slave to its schedule, even at the cost of what might have been. We can’t really expect that to change anytime soon though. According to UFC president Dana White, there is likely to be over 30 events in 2012.
For the fighters, that’s a double-edged sword. It represents more opportunities to make a payday, but it could cost you the chance to earn something priceless.
For now, Bisping will sit back and wait his next assignment. He’s always been a company man, and it’s rewarded him with money and security. Years ago, Bisping began fighting in hopes of making enough money to go back to school, earn himself an education and find a stable way to provide for his family. Fighting has provided him with more than he ever dreamed in that regard, but the hopes of a sportsman can not always be satiated by cold, hard cash. At least it’s a fair way to soothe himself while he waits, and waiting is indeed what he plans to do.
On the same night he won, he found out that Sonnen and Munoz were locked into place in a fight that would determine Silva’s next challenger. Asked what would make sense for him next, Bisping sighed and threw his hands apart in a gesture that most would have translated to signify his own frustration. Describing himself as one of the best fighters in the division, he settled on a political answer that toed the company line while highlighting the hazy nature of his personal fighting forecast.
“I want to fight whoever it is that gets me closer to the belt,” he said. “Whoever that is, whoever the top guys are out there, I want to fight them.”
UFC President Dana White (above) embarrassed after Gray Maynard beat Clay Guida by split decision to win a lightweight bout and the main event of the UFC card in Atlantic City.
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