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Top 5 Questions For 2012: Middleweight

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The division regardless of promotion is a one man show and that one man is UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. The 'Spider' is undefeated since his arrival in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and he has finished his last three opponents.

The 'Peoples Champion' of the division, Chael Sonnen gave Silva his biggest test but that was for nothing when shortly after UFC 117 he failed drug tests, caught in legal issues and suspended by the Califironia and Nevada State Athletic Commissions.

In 2012 we have two major bouts that will give Anderson either rematches or new challengers as Chael Sonnen vs. Mark Munoz and Michael Bisping vs. Damian Maia have been announced for UFC on FOX 2. The first mentioned is number one contender fight A and the latter being number one contender fight B.

Continue reading and provide your answers to these five questions

5. Can Hector Lombard remain a draw in 2012?

'Hektor' has terrorized 185ers and 205ers alike in Bellator Fighting Championships but has yet to return to a bigger stage since PRIDE where he lost to both Akhiro Gono and Gegard Mousasi.

He is the most recognizable face in Bellator and one of the few guys not in the UFC to get credit where credit is due. He is currently riding a 24 win streak, holds the Bellator middleweight title, Cage Fighting Championship middleweight title, Australian Fighting Championship middleweight title and Xtreme Fighting Championship light heavyweight crown.

Not too shabby, huh?

Lombard is one of those few guys who could garner an immediate title shot if he signed with the UFC as he is easily marketable and an exciting fighter. He is guaranteed at least one fight next year against Russian middleweight Alexander Shlemenko who won this past middleweight tournament.

Now i'm putting his UFC transfer out of my mind but can he even remain as popular with a dwindling pool of talent to face or a fight anyone wants to see?. The rumor that got me excited was a proposed bout with former UFC light heavyweight number one contender Renato Sobral.

Bellator better find him so competition or their number one highlight reel fighter could lose his draw and become worthless. Fans won't stand to see guys who appear as cans get knocked out.

4. Who is going to emerge this year from the 'rest of the pack' ?

The UFC has a big year to re-stock the shelves of it's middleweight division as Alan Belcher, 'TUF 13' winner Court McGee and Constantinos Philippou all could have big years.

The 'Talent' Alan Belcher missed a year due to a detached retina that occurred during training. He came back and won a sound victory by stopping Canadian middleweight Jason McDonald. It was a huge way to shed off the ole' ring rust. The main issue with Belcher is that everytime he rises he has hit speed bumps.

While he holds wins over the likes of Jorge Santiago, Ed Herman, Denis Kang and Patrick Cote he has lost to Yoshiro Akiyama, Yushin Okami, Kendall Grove and Jason Day. For Belcher to have a big 2012 and maintain his current win streak of 3 and increase it longer he needs to never fight down to someone's level. He needs to establish himself as the dominating striker he can be.

Court McGee, the inspirational figure from 'The Ultimate Fight Fighter: Team Liddell vs. Team Ortiz' has been one of the few 'TUF' winners to be legit after the show. At 13-1 and beaten the lower tier guys it is time for him to establish the McGee name in the top ten. His first shot to start his 2012 campaign is against Constantinos Philippou at UFC on FX 2 in March. He is a win from finally getting a fight that may start a roll into a title shot come 2013 but McGee must start this year off with a big win.

Constantinos Philippou is a wildcard of the bunch and currently on a two fight win streak by beating both Jared Hamman and Jorge Rivera. He has fought four times in 2011 and posted a 3-1 record, his lone loss being to Nick Catone at UFC 128 this past March.

A product from the Serra-Lango Fight Team has started his gears rolling to shed the title of 'prospect' after he knocked out Hamman at UFC 128. With a thin division a banner year in 2012 could elevate him and it all starts with a pivotal match up against the aforementioned Court McGee at UFC on FX 2.

Who will emerge?

3. Who has a bigger year: Chris Weidman or Anthony Johnson?

Chris Weidman is a practical freak in the sport and as good as Jon Jones has been, Weidman has done just as well with little amount of training.

An All-American wrestler who attended both Nassau Community College and transferred to Hofstra University has caught up quickly. After a year of training in jiu-jitsu, Weidman qualified for the 2009 ADCC submision championships where he lost a very close fight to world-renowned Jiu-Jitsu player Andre Galvao.

At 7-0 Weidman has posted a great record and has carried his hard work into the UFC and it's paying off. He has beaten Alessio Sakara, Jesse Bongfeldt and Tom Lawlor. His proven submission game caused stoppages of Bongfeldt and Lawlor.

So can Weidman carry his success into 2012 or as the competition grows stronger will he crumble?

One of the biggest welterweight\ fighters has said no more to cutting and has decided to fight at another weight class he'll be big at, middleweight.

The knockout artist had a big 2011 by beating both Dan Hardy and Charlie Brenneman. He missed all of 2010 due to a knee injury and his having missed the welterweight weight limit on two occasions. He missed the weight by 5 or more pounds on both occasions. On an episode of of HDnet's 'Inside MMA' Johnson says he typically had to cut 55 pounds to make 170.

wow.

Johnson didn't make his 185 debut an easy task as he is facing one of the best strikers ever in MMA when he faces Vitor Belfort. The variable is that Belfort doesn't usually match up well with strikers himself and Johnson has a loaded gun for a head kick and he will try and starts his Ander Silva fight bid in a big way

Who get's closer in 2012?

2. Will Bisping finally get his shot?

The 'Count' Michael Bisping is finally ready for his title shot in 2012 as he has now went 8-2 in his past ten. His only blemishes were a loss to Wanderlei Silva (UFC 110) and Dan Henderson (UFC 100).

2011 was a good year for the Brit as beat up Jorge Rivera at UFC 127, coached his second season of 'The Ultimate Fighter' then proceeded to embarrass Jason Miller at the TUF 14 Finale. He has now been lined up to face Damien Maia at UFC on FOX 2 in what is a number one contenders bout. The contenders bout is basically a back up in case either Mark Munoz or Chael Sonnen get injured after either wins their impending bout or just another contender for after either one faces Anderson Silva.

The UFC hasn't had an English champion and only Dan Hardy hardy was has a title shot thus far. Michael Bisping wishes to be the second English number one contender and the first English born UFC champion

Does he even get the shot?

1. Do we get Anderson Silva-Chael Sonnen II in 2012?

The most wanted and heated debate is over a possible re-match between former number one contender Chael Sonnen and Anderson Silva.

Before UFC 117 Chael Sonnen was a blip on anyone's radar and nothing more then a brute wrestler who couldn't defend submissions. At UFC 117 that sentiment was proven again but for four and a half rounds Sonnen was en route to a clear cut decision win.

Then he got choked out

Here's the thing many fans don't put into perspective, even if that submission never came to be the fight would have been overturned. Chael still would have failed his drug test, been charged for his real estate fraud and been suspended for a year.

As if none of it happened.

I still think without the failed drug test that this may go down the same way without the choke. At UFC 136 Sonnen practically laughed at the people who talked about his submission game when he choked out Brian Stann to get back in the picture. I said prior to the UFC 136 that it would be at least two wins for Sonnen to get past the infractions after UFC 117 and re-establish himself as the Alpha contender.

It comes down to one last hurdle in Mark Munoz at UFC on FOX 2, does he get his death wish?

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