Michael Bisping Calls for UFC Interim Belt; Should the UFC Make the Move?

November 25, 2012
49 Comments

Michael Bisping - UFC on Fox 2Everything surrounding UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva lately has swirled about anything but defending his 185-pound divisional title, and everything points to the likelihood that he won’t be defending the belt anytime soon.

The last time he did so was earlier this year in July in a rematch against Chael Sonnen. He won the fight then went on to help save UFC 153 from cancellation by fighting Stephan Bonnar in a 205-pound non-title bout.

Silva has since indicated that he’s got several personal projects that he wants to focus on, plus, he has a target on Georges St-Pierre as his next opponent. If he does get the fight with St-Pierre, it would be a superfight, not a title bout.

If he doesn’t intend to defend the belt anytime in the near future – we’re already going on nearly five months without any word of a title defense in view – should an interim UFC middleweight champion be crowned?

Michael Bisping – the UFC’s self-proclaimed No. 1 middleweight contender – believes so. He’s scheduled to fight Vitor Belfort in January at UFC on FX 7 in Brazil, and feels that their fight is worthy of championship status.

“Me vs. Vitor Belfort in Brazil in January should be for the Interim Middleweight Title,” Bisping wrote in a Thanksgiving message to his fans this week. “With (Chris) Weidman out, I think me vs Vitor is a worthy Interim Title fight. Way more worthy than Urijah Favor’s 2354987th title shot and, and I would defend my Interim Title against all-comers and keep the division moving.”

Weidman has been regarded as the top contender to Silva’s title, or at least among the top two alongside Bisping, but he recently ended up on the sidelines with a shoulder injury.

Bisping feels like that leaves he and Belfort as the logical choice for an interim title bout. And he’s probably right… if there is to be one.

But the question begs to be asked: should the UFC institute an interim champion when its current titleholder isn’t injured? He just appears to be focused on things other than defending his championship belt.

It’s definitely a unique situation, but Bisping believes that, with all the momentum the UFC middleweight division has right now, an interim champion who is willing to defend his title would serve to keep the division moving forward.

“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,” Bisping remarked.

“On top of that it looks like the Strikeforce guys are coming in shortly, too.

“As it stands, the middleweight division’s champion has no plans whatsoever to defend his belt until at least the end of next summer.”

Is Silva not defending his belt for a year or longer enough reason for an interim title bout?

“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,” Bisping said in explaining his reasoning.

“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.”

Should the UFC take the unprecedented step of declaring an interim champion when it’s current titleholder isn’t injured or otherwise unable to defend his belt? Do they need to do so in order to keep the division moving forward?

As always, only time will tell how this all plays out, but until it does, we can all weigh in on how the situation develops…

  • Maddawgmar

    I think Anderson Silva, should just take the super fights and relinquish his title. He has nothing more to prove at middleweight. He is the greatest middleweight of all time. Now show if he can beat GSP, then Jones. Then call it a career, he owes Bisping or anyone else anything.

    • Maddawgmar

      *doesn’t owe

      • El Gvapo

        You’re right. I think Anderson is the first fighter in UFC history who is bigger tan the belt he wears. Yes it may be down to the fewer credible opponents at his weight, but that’s the way it seems. GSP has always had another genuine contender ready and waiting for his next fight, ditto Jones, JDS and whoever is top of the LHW tree, Anderson’s title has never been seriously in doubt since he won it.

        • Walter Josey 3rd

          Yes Silva has ran through most of the division but each year there are new fighters who climb into contention. Silva will always be considered one of the best at his weight/pound for pound but the belt is suppose to bigger than the fighters. Let UFC give him his super fights at the same time, get a new champion that will defend the title.

          • El Gvapo

            I agree with you man. The only problem in the whole equation is time. Assuming he’s gonna take 9 months ish between fights then that leaves very few title fights for the foreseeable future. The thing that worries me about super fights is that it sets precedent. It’s gonna get to the point where people are more interested in seeing the WW champ vs the MW champ, the LHW champ vs the HW champ rather than standard title fights. The last thing we want are a load of interim champs as well as actual champs.

    • Walter Josey 3rd

      I agree whole heartedly with your comment. If he doesn’t want to defend title he should relinquish it. Remember after last title defense, he didn’t want to fight Weidman, he wanted big fights, money fights and or super fights. Either defend or let UFC find a champion who is willing to defend against anyone instead of looking for money fights.

    • Mark McDowall

      I like this idea simply because I don’t see anyone @ 185 beating him. Put him in “super fights” once a year. Make him The Undertaker of the UFC.

      At least with a human being as the champ there is a possibility of a title change everyonce in a while. It does get kinda boring seeing these dominant champions beat every opponent every time.

  • FrankG

    Yes, unless plans change and a MW title fight is set soon. It’s ridiculous to hold up the MW division for over a year. UFC weight classes are not like the innumerable subdivisions/alphabet titles in boxing, where fighters can move around. If AS wants to make a movie, let him take some time off and then return and win back his title. One superfight would be okay, provided it was done in a timely manner, but that’s not what appears to be happening.

    • Scotty_O

      As stated in their contract, the Champ needs to defend the belt once a year, As long as they’re able to do that then there’s no need for an interim belt. I agree that it’s not the best for the business but if anyone deserves the choice to do that, It’s Anderson Silva. We all must agree (with the exception of Weidman fans) that Silva earned his right to take a little time off, give the man his due, he’s and incredible fighter, and asset to the UFC.

      If he doesn’t defend it within a year, Interim that **** up!

      • FrankG

        I didn’t know the contract specified one year (thanks), which of course I think is too long. Silva said he didn’t want to fight again until the end of next year, which would be nearly a year and a half since his last title defense, and then there are the superfight possibilities. Yes, he does deserve some time off and we’ll have to see what actually happens, but how long should the UFC wait before making other plans…

  • DamianCross

    EHHHHHHHH SHADDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAP

  • Joe

    If Bisping can get past Vitor, then he should just start calling out Silva. I find it funny that he starts calling for an interim title, after it looks as though Silva will be taking a few other fights, but I never remember him calling to fight Silva. You want the belt, TAKE IT FROM THE CHAMP, don’t cry your way into a meaningless title.

    • michaelchimique

      um he’s asked to fight silva already.

      • Walter Josey 3rd

        Correct he has already asked Dana White several times about fighting Silva just waiting on UFC to give him a title shot. At the same time, UFC wants to make money and everyone knows that BS sells, so Bisping is doing his share of talking to get someone’s attention to either get a title shot or interim title.

  • gnodeb

    I blame UFC for this anoyans, after Sonnen fiasco nobody wants to earn title…

    • Walter Josey 3rd

      Actually it goes back further than that, remember when Brock got title shot with Randy with only few fights in his career. Dana said he was giving the fans what they asked for and by doing so overlook some already heavyweights who were working to get a title shot long before Brock was signed.

  • Walter Josey 3rd

    For instances such as this, the UFC should mandate that each title should be defended within a specific time limit or that champion should forfeit or be stripped of the title. Unless champion is injuried, then there is no need for title to be sitting idle while champion is out seeking fights outside their weight division. If Anderson wants superfights, let him forfeit title and have someone DEFEND the title instead of just holding onto it for photo ops!

  • RAHOWA

    Bisping has been and always will be a joke.

    • Walter Josey 3rd

      That is why it is so great to see him fight. He is either going to get knocked out, fight up to his potential or go to the judges’ decisions.

  • FrankG

    I don’t agree with the idea that a lineal champ has a sacred right to keep his title forever until he is beaten, regardless of whether he defends it regularly. A true champion is willing and able to to defend his title against all comers. When there is an existing champion, the best way for the title to be transfered is naturally for a new champion to defeat the reigning one. But, if a champion is unwilling or unable to defend his title within a reasonable period of time (~9 months), then IMO he ceases to be a true champion, and the vacant title should be contested between the top contenders. The previous champion, disqualified but unbeaten, should have the right to compete to regain the title as soon as he is ready. It’s not a question of punishing the inactive champion, simply of having a true champion in place who defends the title.

  • Andersoona Siloovey

    Oh jeez, how lame. I can’t stand these glory hunters like Bisping. They know that they have zero chance of beating Anderson and winning the belt, so they are so desperate to gun for an “interim” title, just so that they can say they achieved something. Please do not introduce a joke like the interim title when a fighter is still within the organisation, but is so far above his own division that he has to take on super fights WITHIN his organisation. An interim title doesn’t really mean anything, it’s just a number one contender fight, and it gives a prize to somebody who is not a real champion. I do agree that having a champion out for a long time necessitates the need for a number one contender but please take the word “champion” out of the occasion. Interim champion is such a meaningless phrase. For heavens sake, don’t give them a belt. Give them a little vase, or a badge that their mom’s can sew on to their stupid shorts. I can’t stand these “winners” like Bisping. They always have to win something, don’t care what it means, as long as it’s something.

    Also, Bisping hasn’t beaten anybody good. Ever. He lost to Rashad Evans, he got brutally KTFO’d by Dan Henderson, lost to a past it Wanderlai Silva, and then, his chance…the number one contender fight: he lost to Chael Sonnen. Now he wants to fight the out of his prime Vitor Belfort for a belt? He’s not going to stand with Vitor, so his game plan will be to take him down and lay on him for 5 rounds. Bisping sucks, and needs to beat a couple of “names” before he can be even in the conversation for number one contender. Give him a vase though.

    • Mark McDowall

      But Sonnen getting 3 title fights makes sense? I suppose you think Weidman is a “clear” #1 contender with a win over Munoz…and everyone else being nobodies?

      • Andersoona Siloovey

        Sonnen did deserve to have a rematch against Silva simply because he did so well in the first fight, and that there was nobody worthy of a title shot in that division. As for his shot at Jon Jones, that all cam about because of the fact that Hendo got injured, and nobody wanted to step in against Jones…other than Sonnen (and Belfort). It is also an unusual scenario because of The Ultimate Fighter show. That means a lot of other considerations come in such as entertainment and tv ratings as opposed to simply a deserving contender taking on a champion. Chael will draw big audiences to the show (which is suffering a slump). The show is pivotal to the UFC as it brings it new fans, and creates hardcore fans. To have Chael on the show and for it to succeed is more important to the UFC than having any of the current LHW contenders attempt again (many have already failed) to take the belt from JJ. Hendo is presently injured too. So Chael is not a fighter deserving of 3 title shots technically speaking, but it is a business decision from the UFC, and he is a bad mofo that has balls and will come to fight as well as draw in massive crowds.

        Chael beat Bisping too so your point is even weaker. If you don’t think Chael deserves anything, then surely you agree that Bisping, who has never beaten a big name, indeed lost every time, doesn’t deserve anything. Just win one big fight, against somebody good. Is that asking too much? Sonnen beat Bisping, Nate Marquadt, Brian Stann, and Yushin Okami, in his last 6 fights. His only losses came to Anderson Silva in those 7. The only name that Bisping beat was Brian Stann, Completely different levels.

        Most of the other fighters that Bisping mentioned deserve a title shot either. They are not exciting enough and need at least a win against a big named top 10 fighter to even be in the conversation. Le is the one I like, as that would be an interesting stand up battle, but he really needs to fight somebody else as a loss to a post prime Wanderlai is not a contender, and Franlkin is a nobody these days.

        As for Wiedman, you really show a lack of knowledge when you mock that he is a clear number one contender for winning over Munoz. Firstly, he absolutely dominated Munoz. Then he knocked him out on the feet. It was a masterful display, and I never saw anybody destroying Munoz like that. Weidman has looked untouchable and a class above in all his fights.Secondly, he is 9-0, an impressive unbeaten record that none of the other “contenders” can boast. He has taken a few worthy scalps along the way in Munoz, Damien Maia and Alessio Sakara. I don’t think that makes him an essential fight for Anderson Silva at the moment. But he is way ahead of Bisping. A fight against Bisping would be good for Weidman, another scalp to add to his list, because Bisping is a big name despite being one of the most overrated fighters in the UFC (mainly because he is British and Dana thinks that he brings in the British audiences. I’m British, and couldn’t give a damn about this boring mediocre fighter).

        So no, Weidman is not a clear #1 contender. He is the most deserving of the bunch, by far, but on paper, he should get a few more names under his belt. I can’t see either Bisping, Belfort, Boetsche, Lombard or Le giving him any real trouble. One more win against those will make him a clear contender to face Silva.

        • Mark McDowall

          But Sonnen also popped positive after the first fight…does that mean his effort was that great??

          • currymma

            positive for what? It wasn’t steroids. Please know what your talking about before you comment. He tested for high levels of testosterone not steroids. It was TRT

          • Andersoona Siloovey

            Ok, but he didn’t get an automatic rematch. He had to fight a number 1 contender fight…against Bisping. Bisping…lost, and has still not beaten any worthy challenger. He does not deserve to be fighting for a belt of any kind, that’s what I’m saying. Just let him fight vitor, and see what happens. If he brutalises Belfort, everybody will get behind his campaign to fight Silva. I personally think the fight will go down one of 2 ways. Vitor will Knock him the F out, or Bisping will try to some boring gameplan and win on points. He doesn’t deserve to be fighting for any title, interim or otherwise until he beats at least a couple of top contenders. Weidman is the front runner out of the rest, but even he should beat another contender before he can legitimately fight for an interim belt or be named a number 1 contender that Silva has to fight.

            My point is that Bisping is a mediocre fighter begging for his one chance at winning a belt, because he knows he will never win anything in his career. If you want a belt, why not fight Belfort, beat him, then call out Silva upon his return?

  • mma wannabe

    Yes of course their should be an interim champion. If Anderson doesn’t want to fight anyone but gsp then of course bisping makes a great point while go king credit to other fighters in line. Why not? Anderson didn’t want to fight the number one contender when he was healthy so of course he’s not too interested in any others either. I think Anderson would love to take the interim belt from anyone of the guys michael mentioned once he’s done with his potential gsp fight. Its the only way to keep Anderson interested in his own division since he’s not at this point.
    None of the top fighters in Anderson’s division will put butts in seats or cause huge ppv buys at this point. But an interim champion no matter who it is sure would cause interest from Anderson and the buying public.
    So of course bisping is right on the money. Smart and ambitious guy. Nothing wrong with that.

    • mma wannabe

      Meant to say ” while giving credit to the other fighters” lol.

  • Guest

    Did anyone else get a chuckle from the ‘poison dwarf Lombard’ comment? Haha.

    A champion should defend his title at least twice a year. Otherwise what is the point of building contenders, and marketing opponents, if they are going to be waiting forever for a title shot.

    You want a guy who is on a hot streak to go into a title fight with that momentum, not wait 6-8 months to fight when it is convenient on the champs calender.

    If the UFC know that Anderson only wants mega fights. Then make an interim title tournament, spread over a year.

    Also, instead of the Ultimate fighter show (which is close to a ratings low point), market a new show – much like 24/7 or the UFC prime time shows, but that comes on every week. Each week you follow the contenders training and prep for the fights. The viewer learns their personal stories, and the show culminates with a UFC on Fox or Fuel show that has the opening round of the tournament.

    This series of shows can go on all the way to the tournament finals – the fights occur on free TV, so they maximize the amount of viewer exposure for the fighters they are trying to promote.

    Thus, the fighters gain more self-brand viability viewers get insight into what championship caliber fighters go through to gain their goal, and the UFC gain a new set of stars who they know won’t fade into obscurity like many of the ultimate fighter contestants.

    Also, most importantly, the UFC make the MW division more prestigious and exciting.

  • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

    Bisping deserves a title shot. He’s been a round a long time now, and has only losses to the best in the world. Everybody is counting him out against Silva but it could be a great fight. Bispings footwork and kickboxing are excellent.

    • Mark McDowall

      He is CLEARLY the #1 contender @ 185. I think they should make Bisping/Vitor an interum title fight, then when StrickForce folds the winner fights Luke Rockhold, winner gets next shot @ Silva.

      • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

        You made my day with this intelligent statement my friend. Please follow me on facebook and twitter!

    • currymma

      he does not, anytime he’s ever faced
      a top 10 fighter he has lost. And beating vitor which I highly doubt he can do def would not warrant a title shot

      • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

        What? lmao…. look at who the guy has fought? Look at his skill set in every fight! Every fight can’t just KO somebody every fight with no problem. He’s fighting against other world class pro fighters who train everyday and go through top camps to fight. C’mon man, your user name has mma in it and you make a comment like that??

        • Mark McDowall

          Currymma must be one of those “if you dont knock everyone out your a bad fighter” type of fan….or a Weidman fan boy lol.

          • currymma

            just want the best fighting the best. I’d like bisping to earn his shot by beating top fighters which he has been unable to find Weidman has actually beaten better fighters then Bisping so yea he does deserve it before Bisping. I’ve not only watched mma since it was nhb but I’ve been involved with it for over 10 years so don’t act like I’m wrong because you know I’m right

        • currymma

          I think he is a quality fighter it lets be serious. He is not #1 contender Weidman is. He may be top10 def not top 5. I do think of who he has fought but I also think of whatfights he’s won and none have ever been against the upper echelon of fighters his biggest win was over Dennis Kang. Just cause he wins doesn’t make him a contender. The caliber of fighters he beats is what will do that and so far he just isn’t there yet

          • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

            But would you agree that Bisping, Weidman, Belfort (even though he lost to JJ) and Boetch are def on top of the list for MW contenders?

          • currymma

            I could agree with that. Munoz is in there along with a couple others including belcher and okami. Look mile is a solid fighter but I think hell always be gatekeeper status. Until he quits the point fighting strategy and starts leaving it all in the cage. He can have a great skillset with great footwork all day long but he needs to step up in big fights which he just has never done

  • currymma

    Bisping knows he’s never getting a title unless its by default

  • turth

    I am not one to ever really agree with Bisping, but after he lays it out like that you have to admit the division has a lot of sorting out to do and it would be nice if it could really move forward one way or another…

  • Ocobble

    Normally I think this is a good idea but not for Bisping, he lost to Matt Hamill for cryin out loud and remember what Henderson did to him. Geez Anderson might knock his loud head clean off!

  • Ocobble

    Britts can’t fight anyway let him get knocked out!

  • Collideoverme

    Bisping very much deserves a title shot. F this super fight crap. Its for wrestling and boxing. If Silva isn’t going to fight and defend his title, its time to move on.

  • dathump

    Its Dana that wants these superfights more so then Silva, I know Silva only wants big fights but will also fight whoever the UFC tells him to, I understand Bisping wants his shot, and has paid his dues, but hasn’t really earned it. If there were no fights for Anderson to take, sure give him his shot, but the UFC does not want to pass up the opportunity to make the bank a GSP/Silva fight will make. Bisping’s statement has alot of “what ifs” in it and I can see a Silva/Jones fight in the future, but not the near future, Jones has too many fights already, Sonnen, Machida/Hendo, I dont think Bisping should worry about Silva defending the title, instead he should worry about Belfort. If he really wants a title shot, put on a steller performance, and a highlight reel finish, and the title fight will come to him.

  • TandmWarElephnt

    Bisping has been finished once in his career… by a guy who has finished frickn everybody! like really? If you can honestly say Bisping is a a bad fighter you really don’t understand what fighting is all about.. Saying he hasn’t beat a top guy is also inaccurate, most notably being his latest win Brian Stann he was definitely top 5 if not top 10 if you can’t even give him that then don’t even reply to the comment.

    • joker

      Brian Stann top 5? Come on guy get off the bathsalts

      • TandmWarElephnt

        This website has Stann at 8 and pretty much every other website has him in the top 10 and at the time of their fight it was a contenders fight so how do you figure he wasn’t top five? I’m sure you believe Weidman and all 5 of his amazing wins should be in the top five? or maybe hector lombard! he’s such a beast! outside the ufc… and for the record i said WAS top 5 IF NOT TOP 10 so i don’t see the point of your comment really

  • Boomer

    why would you a. want to hold an ‘interim’ title and b. be given the interim title in that fashion?