With Michael Bisping Sidelined, UFC May Make Interim Title Fight

May 19, 2017

With UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping still not recovered from a knee injury, UFC officials are considering an interim middleweight title fight for this summer.

Bisping was initially slated to put his belt on the line against returning former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. UFC president Dana White had been hopeful the fight would happen at UFC 213 on July 8 in Las Vegas. That possibility slid away and then St-Pierre said he wouldn’t be ready to fight until at least November.

At that point, White said that he decided to scrap the fight altogether and would put Bisping up against No. 1 contender Yoel Romero.

Following that statement, Bisping revealed on his podcast that his knee injury still hadn’t fully healed and he would rather continue to wait for St-Pierre than to fight Romero.

It has now been more than seven months since Bisping last defended the belt. If he isn’t going to be ready to fight this summer, White told ESPN that he is considering an interim title fight between Romero and No. 3 ranked Robert Whittaker.

“We’re trying to put together that Bisping-Romero fight,” White said. “If [Bisping] can’t fight this summer, we’ll probably create an interim title between Romero and Robert Whittaker.”

Romero (13-1) is riding an eight-fight winning streak in which he has knocked out six of his opponents. He has been waiting in the wings for Bisping since November, but has said that he’d be willing to fight if the UFC put an interim belt on the line.

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If he gets his wish, Romero will likely face Whittaker (18-4), who is in the midst of a seven-fight winning streak, and is undefeated in his six fights since moving up to middleweight. He is coming off of a TKO stoppage of former Strikeforce champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, someone that even Romero was unable to finish.

Even though Bisping said he would want to wait for St-Pierre, there are now no guarantees that fight will happen. White hasn’t publicly delved deep into the matter, but told ESPN that when St-Pierre is ready to return, he was now likely to face whomever holds the UFC welterweight title at the time. Tyron Woodley is the current titleholder.

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