You’ll have to forgive me as I attempt to comprehend the reasoning behind the Michael Bisping vs. Vitor Belfort matchup. I’m a little behind on this column so bear with me — I’m behind mainly due to my propensity to overanalyze everything. As I sit in front of my overpriced MacBook Air, I do so baffled at the UFC’s attempt to formulate a No. 1 contender within the middleweight division. I’m no Joe Silva but I’m starting to wonder if the UFC is losing sight of its own needs. Someone has to answer my questions and there’s only one person that will or can — me.
I’m going to ask three questions that keep revolving around in my mind regarding the UFC on FX 7 bout between middleweight contenders Michael Bisping and Vitor Belfort. I’ll then attempt to answer the very questions I posed — which is not the best situation but the only one I have at the moment.
Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts, theories or general platitudes.
Why would you pair two fighters together and not reward either fighter with the same opportunity if victorious?
This question goes beyond the UFC on FX 7 matchup and dives directly into the heart of the UFC’s matchmaking philosophy. Why would you pair two fighters together and not reward either fighter with the same opportunity if victorious?
By pairing fighters together who obtain the same opportunity if victorious the UFC could eliminate a growing concern regarding the sport’s integrity among fighters and fans alike.
The bottom line is the UFC has done a terrible job of providing a framework toward becoming a No. 1 contender. UFC president Dana White likes to use the term “in the mix” but what that really means is “who we want will be next.” Case in point is Georges St. Pierre vs. Nick Diaz. The UFC must do a better job at establishing a framework for matchmaking and becoming a title contender.
Why did the UFC pair Michael Bisping with such a dangerous opponent in Vitor Belfort?
I’m still scratching my head over this one. Two opportunities were riding on this fight; a No. 1 contenders spot and a chance to see Anderson Silva fight before the end of the year. One high kick saw both of those washed down the drain instantly. I’m not inferring Bisping should question his opponent choice nor blame anyone else for the loss except himself, but why fight Belfort?
Vitor’s coming off a submission loss to light heavyweight champion Jon Jones at UFC 152 in September. Less than five months later he stands across the cage from Bisping who, if victorious, will get his first opportunity at UFC gold. As it just so happened Belfort beat Bisping at UFC on FX 7 with a TKO victory 2:27 into the second round. My thought now — why was Vitor ever asked to be a part of this fight?
What will happen to the UFC middleweight division now?
A great question Scott (inner dialogue: thanks Scott, those are the only ones I have). What will the UFC do with the middleweight division and middleweight champion Anderson Silva? The division is in the same state as it was before the Bisping-Belfort fight — static.
It’s clear the UFC isn’t going to give Belfort a second go-around with Silva just yet. In all fairness, Belfort asked for Jones instead of Silva during his post-fight interview. Did Belfort truly believe his plea would be granted by Dana? It’s Chael P. Sonnen were talking about, the greatest showman in UFC history. For now the middleweight division will continue to act like a sifter, eventually grinding out a contender with enough name recognition to warrant a second look by champion Anderson Silva.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: This could take awhile.
Scott Levesque writes a weekly column for the Clarion on mixed martial arts. He will cover MMA at the local, state and national levels. His handle on Twitter is @scottlevesque.