Top 10-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight contender Michael Bisping scored a razor close, split-decision win over Thales Leites (highlights here) at UFC Fight Night 72 earlier today (Sat. July 18, 2015) in Glasgow, Scotland.
"The Count" kept a steady pace, weathering several dizzying barrages from the former title challenger, while pumping jabs and leg kicks his way. Bisping tallied his second straight victory in the process -- something he has not accomplished since 2011. Most important, it is his second "W" over a Top 10 opponent.
And he wants another shot at a few familiar foes.
"I know I'm capable of this. Thales was a tough fight tonight. Line up the next opponent; I want to get back in there ASAP," Bisping told FOX Sports. "I always criticize people that don't have names. The problem is -- I have so many names. Of course, the champion ... Luke Rockhold, I would love to face him again. [Gegard] Mousasi, Yoel Romero, Dan Henderson -- he looks like he's got off his TRT. Vitor [Belfort], I'd love to kick his ass."
Bisping felt that his takedown defense was pivotal and his subsequent stuffed takedowns led to a "disheartened" Leites. He would later settle down -- after being stiffened up by a huge uppercut in the third round -- and outpointed the Brazilian.
There is much to be sorted out in the 185-pound division. Champion Chris Weidman is opponent-less presently, while Rockhold, Ronaldo Souza and Romero are each jockeying for a title shot next.
For the time being, Rockhold appears to have the inside track. And for good reason -- he owns wins over Souza in Strikeforce, as well as former Light Heavyweight titleholder Lyoto Machida and the aforementioned Bisping in the Octagon.
"Soldier of God" also threw his hat into the sweepstakes after his thrashing of "The Dragon." The 38-year-old Olympic silver medalist is undefeated in UFC with six straight wins.
After his UFC 186 victory over C.B. Dollaway in May, Bisping stated (via MMAFighting), following a win over Leites, he would welcome bouts with either Rockhold or "Jacare." With one lucky party getting a shot at gold, the Brit could have multiple options.
The 33-year-old Leites, meanwhile, saw his eight-fight win streak snapped and will need to get back in line. Perhaps a run-in with recent Bisping victim Dollaway is in order?
Alas, the top tier of UFC's middleweight division has not been this potent in a long time. Does you Maniacs think Bisping has what it takes to nab that elusive title shot?
Stay with MMAmania for continued reaction and subsequent fallout of UFC Fight Night 72: "Bisping vs. Leites."