It’s been eight years since Michael Bisping won The Ultimate Fighter 3 light heavyweight tournament, earning a UFC contract. He’s had 20 fights inside the Octagon in those eight years and has been one fight away from a title shot twice in his career.
The 35-year-old Englishman faces No. 5-ranked Luke Rockhold at UFC Fight Night 55 on Nov. 8 and hopes a win over the former Strikeforce champion will put him back in the contender conversation.
“For myself, it’s just one fight at a time. If I beat Luke, when I beat Luke, I think that puts me in a very, very good position. Of course, there is some other good talent out there that’s making a case for it,” said Bisping during a recent media conference call.
Middleweight champion Chris Weidman puts his title on the line for the third time at UFC 184 on Feb. 28 against No. 3-ranked Brazilian Vitor Belfort. No. 2-ranked Anderson Silva has two losses to the champion, and a trilogy fight seems unlikely. No. 4-ranked Lyoto Machida lost to Weidman by unanimous decision in his last outing on July 5.
With a win over Rockhold, Bisping could realistically put himself in line for a crack at the winner between Weidman and Belfort. He hasn’t fought Weidman, so it’s a fresh match-up. He and Belfort have history.
Belfort knocked out Bisping in January 2013. The controversial use of Testosterone Replacement Therapy, which Belfort was utilizing during the time of the fight against Bisping, was banned in February. The case for a rematch could easily be built around that alone.
“Well obviously you’ve got Belfort vs. Weidman settling things in February, I believe. Luke, since coming to the UFC, or in his last two fights, has people talking about him possibly being the next contender,” said Bisping.
“Machida’s always a perennial contender, but he just had his shot, so you can kind of take him out of it for the immediate future, I think. There’s Jacare, but I’m not sure if the UFC is too excited about that,” he added.
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza is ranked No. 2 in the middleweight division. He’s on a seven-fight winning streak and a former Strikeforce champion. Souza is logically next in line, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee him the next shot.
“Who knows? Of course, I’ll give a good performance against Rocklhold. I believe it puts me right in the mix. Does it guarantee a title shot? No, not necessarily, but as I said, I believe it puts me right in the mix.”