Michael Bisping was promised a Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight title shot if he defeated Vitor Belfort at UFC on FX 7: "Belfort vs. Bisping," and even though Belfort picked a devastating second-round head kick finish of the Brit, "The Phenom" still has work to do before getting another crack at the belt.
Under almost any other circumstances, Belfort would be the clear-cut No. 1 contender in the division by earning a decisive win over an opponent the caliber of Bisping, but that will not be the case.
Why? You may ask.
The answer is simple. At UFC 126, only four fights ago, 185-pound champ Anderson Silva obliterated Belfort with a front kick to the chin. It was Silva's shortest middleweight fight since winning the belt from Rich Franklin in 2006, and it's hard argue Belfort deserves the shot, regardless of how impressive the win over Bisping was.
Granted, a Silva vs. Belfort rematch could do astronomical numbers in Brazil due to the two fighters being among the most popular in the country, but from a pay-per-view (PPV) standpoint, it's unlikely that very many people would be willing to pay for part two.
Moreover, at this stage of Silva's career, people want to see him take on new challenges, and a rematch with Belfort would be the opposite of that.
So with that said, what do you do with Belfort?
At 35 years of age, and with his 36th birthday fast approaching, it's difficult to estimate how many fights Belfort has left. A rematch with Silva isn't in the cards just yet, but that doesn't mean another impressive win or two won't get him there. Or in the unlikely event Silva is dethroned, the native of Rio de Janeiro would be an immediately candidate for a title shot.
As far as his call-out of UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones? Let's simply ignore that, because it's not going to happen.
Facing Rockhold would be a bit of a step back for Belfort, but anyone who has followed the career of Belfort knows the wily veteran is not in the business of turning down fights.
If Belfort isn't going to get a title shot, his role would be best served as someone to match up against fighters on the verge of a title shot - much like his most recent fight with Bisping.
Rockhold is a good example of a fighter in such a position and if the last Strikeforce middleweight champion could take out a legend like Belfort in his UFC debut, it would go a long way in proving his legitimacy as a threat to the champion.
Aside from Silva, Weidman is currently the only fighter ahead of Belfort in the 185-pound rankings. The "All-American" is currently on the sidelines after undergoing shoulder surgery late last year, but is targeting a May return to the Octagon. If that's the case and Weidman makes it back within his timeframe, matching him up with Belfort would be a legitimate No. 1 contenders bout for both men.
The only problem with Belfort vs. Weidman is the fact that Weidman may be the only viable title contender in the middleweight division at this time after the recent losses of Bisping, Tim Boetsch and Alan Belcher. If the UFC is really looking for fresh contenders for "The Spider," this match up may simply be too big a risk.
Who would you like to see Belfort face next? Let us know in the comments section below.