UFC middleweight contender Michael Bisping firmly believes that if 185-pound titleholder Anderson Silva cannot defend his title in the first half of 2013, the organization should create an interim title. Who should compete for that interim title? "The Count" says there's no one better than Vitor Belfort and himself, who clash in the main event of UFC on FX 7 on Jan. 19, 2013.
"The Count" feels with middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva in limbo between the filming an action movie and a potential super fight with welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre on the horizon, the organization should create an interim belt until Silva is ready to get back to work in the division.
Many thought Bisping could take on the winner of UFC 155's Chris Weidman vs. Tim Boetsch match up and the winner could fight Silva for the title. However, Weidman was forced out of the bout earlier this week due to injury, which Bisping thinks gives the UFC that much more incentive to book an interim title fight.
"Weidman is now out for up to six months and Anderson won't be fighting until May - and even then it looks like it won't be a middleweight title defense." Bisping wrote on his officials website, Bisping.tv. "According to my boss and their boss - Mr Dana F White - Anderson and GSP will have a super-fight in May and who knows what happens then? Anderson could win and then fight Jon Jones at light heavyweight in September and go the entire year - 18-months and more - since defending the middleweight belt."
"Or GSP could win or Anderson get hurt... the fight could even be moved to mid-summer for venue reasons... a million things could happen even when we get to May. Meanwhile, the middleweight division is in a complete holding pattern."
Bisping does have a point. If Silva is unable to defend his title until late-2013, it would be more than fair for the promotion to create an interim title.
There is no set precedent for interim UFC titles -- they are completely circumstantial. We have seen interim titles created over contract disputes and champions getting injured, but never before has an interim title bout been put together because the champion is participating in super fights.
‘The Ultimate Fighter' season three winner is considered among the top 185-pounders in the world. Along with fellow Weidman, the British fighter's name is one that comes up most often in title discussions.
Despite the middleweight division being as strong as its ever been, Bisping thinks if the UFC were to make an interim title, his bout with Belfort should be the fight for the gold.
"With Weidman out, I think me vs Vitor is a worthy Interim title fight. Way more worthy than Urijah Favor's 2354987th title shot," Bisping wrote. "And I would defend my Interim title against all-comers and keep the division moving. And I think I can speak for Vitor, too, because if he kicks my arse in January, he will defend the belt too."
"I think almost all the fans would agree that the middleweight division is hotter than it has ever been right now. I'm at the top of my game, you had Weidman getting some serious momentum, Alan Belcher - when he is healthy - is as good as anyone at 185lbs in spite of that abomination on his arm, Cung Le has just KO'd the former champion Rich Franklin in one round, Tim Boetsch is there, Mark Munoz, Brian Stann, Chris Leben and the poison dwarf [Hector] Lombard are all in the mix and then you've got Vitor Belfort who is back at his real weight class after almost snapping Jon Jones's arm in half on two weeks' notice."
It's hard to disagree with anything Bisping has to say. With his fight against Belfort still over eight weeks away, the organization has plenty of time to make a decision regarding an interim title.
But for Bisping, he is confidant Silva won't be around to defend his crown anytime soon. With a number of contenders climbing the ranks, he thinks it's time to get the ball rolling in the weight class -- with or without Silva.
"As it stands, the middleweight division's champion has no plans whatsoever to defend his belt until at least the end of next summer."
"Let's kick off 2013 - which I think is going to be a huge year for the 185lbs - with an Interim Title fight on FX."