This past week’s action has shaken up the ranks of the UFC middleweight division. In the span of just four days, two of the top five middleweights in the world tasted defeat and the dust has yet to settle. Chael Sonnen last his rematch against the UFC Middleweight champion Anderson Silva at UFC 148 and the man thought to be next in line, Mark Munoz, had those dreams shattered by an elbow from Chris Weidman.
What’s next for the UFC middleweight division is cloudy as best, even to the UFC President Dana White doesn’t know who will be the challenge for Silva. The shakeup might have muddied up the waters, but it has also opened up the door for the rest of the division. There are plenty of options for the next UFC middleweight title fight, all you need to do is sort things out and help the dust settle a bit.
Anderson Silva – Having won 16 fights in a row, including 10 consecutive title defenses, Silva has fought twice a year for the last three years and will likely continue that with more title defense before year’s end. When he’s ready to step back into the Octagon will play heavy into who he’ll fight next.
Hector Lombard – The former Bellator middleweight champion will be making his long-awaited UFC debut this Saturday at UFC 149 against Tim Boetsch. On an impressive 25 fight unbeaten run that includes 20 consecutive wins, Lombard could be the choice with an impressive debut.
Waiting for the call:
Chris Weidman – Undefeated and coming off the biggest win of his career, Weidman called out the champ in his post fight interview at UFC on FUEL TV 4. Having defeated the potential next in line he has a valid point and coming off a fight just days after Silva, their schedules match.
Alan Belcher – Coming off his fourth win in a row, Belcher defeated Rousimar Palhares by TKO at UFC on FOX 3. The UFC veteran has gone 9-3 inside the Octagon but has only fought twice in the last 26 months.
Tim Boetsch – Since dropping down from light heavyweight, Boetsch has won three in a row including a come from behind knockout win against Yushin Okami at UFC 144. He’ll look to play spoiler in the UFC 149 co-main event against Lombard and make a case for himself in the division.
The long shots:
Michael Bisping – Originally schedule to face Boetsch this weekend, Bisping withdrew from the bout due to injury and is now set to face Brian Stann at UFC 152 on September 22nd. He is coming off a close loss to Cheal Sonnen at UFC on FOX 3 but likely offers the “biggest” fight for the UFC to make against Silva.
Brian Stann – Also coming off an injury that forced him out of a headliner bout with Lombard, Stann rebounded from a loss to Sonnen by defeating Alessio Sakara in April. The former WEC light heavyweight champion is 4-1 as a middleweight and will look to earn his biggest UFC win against Bisping on September 22nd.
The timing of the Bisping vs. Stann bout really puts them on the outside looking in at the other four. Lombard would seem to hold the key to things within the division, a good showing would seem to be put him in the #1 contender position but a poor showing or defeat would open the door for Weidman, Belcher and maybe even Boetsch.
With UFC 149 going down on Saturday the dust should clear up some, if not settle completely to allow the UFC to designate the next opponent for Anderson Silva.