Who gets the next middleweight title shot?
That’s hard to say, as all five of the top contenders (see them here) can make a case for a crack at the 185-pound crown, captured (and subsequently defended) by Michael Bisping earlier this year.
Ronaldo Souza is undoubtedly at the top of the list, but was previously paired off with ex-champion Luke Rockhold once “The Count” was awarded his Dan Henderson rematch at UFC 204 in Manchester, England.
Then Rockhold was bitten by the injury bug.
As luck would have it, Bisping was itching to get back into the cage and called out Georges St-Pierre for a middleweight “super fight” at UFC 206 in Toronto; however, “Rush” was unable to accept the bout. So why can’t he fight “Jacare” instead?
From his conversation on UFC Tonight (via MMA Fighting):
"As you all know, I fought Dan Henderson very recently. I've got a busted orbital, I'm getting injections in my knee. Now I know what everyone at home is going to say: ‘Didn't you call out GSP a couple weeks ago?' Yes, I did, but really, think about this, that was a massive payday, roughly $3-4 million I would have earned from that fight. Against Jacare, I'm going to get around about a quarter. I'm assuming they're saying that I'm ducking Jacare. I've never ducked anybody in my life. Next week, Yoel (Romero) and (Chris) Weidman are fighting. Whoever wins, either that guy, or Jacare, will be my next fight, make no mistake. But I'm not doing it in a few weeks."
Sound reasoning ... though it doesn’t explain this.
Bisping, who also made a xXx movie during his championship reign, was issued a six-month medical suspension after Henderson rearranged his face across the pond. A doctor could probably clear him much sooner, but only if “The Count” was willing to get back inside the Octagon to defend his title.
He is ... just not yet.