Solving the Puzzle: Who is the UFC’s #1 Middleweight Contender?

Solving the Puzzle:

Who is the Number One Middleweight Contender?

By: Benjamin Bieker

After this past Saturday’s UFC 148 the true number one contender to Anderson Silva’s

title is unclear. The only fighter to ever come close to defeating him, Chael Sonnen, failed

miserably in his second attempt to take the title. Many fighters are calling out the "The

Spider", but only one will get the chance to fight him next. I will be breaking down the

upcoming pivotal matches, choosing winners, and putting them in the next logical fight.


Upcoming matches:

Mark Muñoz vs. Chris Weidman (July 11th, UFC on Fuel TV 4 – Muñoz vs. Weidman)

Mark Muñoz has been pining for a title shot in the last couple years, and he has

amassed an impressive 7-1 record in the UFC’s middleweight division. In this fight, he

faces Serra-Longo standout Chris Weidman, who recently moved to 8-0 in his career. In

his last fight, he bested Demian Maia in a fight he took on 11 days notice and cut nearly

30 pounds for. The winner of this fight could be a clear cut favorite to face the title holder, but

both still have a little too much to prove. Weidman is still a little too green in his career to

face Anderson Silva and needs at least one more big win to validate a title shot. Muñoz

has been rocked by Yushin Okami, Kendall Grove, and Demian Maia; he needs to

prove he can hang beat a high-level striker before facing Silva.

The Bottom Line: I choose Weidman to win this. He probably has the better

technical striking to beat Muñoz on the feet and his wrestling should be good enough to

keep it on the feet.

Alan Belcher vs. Chris Weidman(November/December)

Give Belcher a fighter on a big win streak, and Weidman another veteran middleweight

to take out. The winner of this bout is a true number one contender.


Tim Boestch vs. Hector Lombard (July 21st, UFC 149 – Faber vs. Barão)

According to Dana White, Hector Lombard was promised a UFC title shot if he could

get past Brian Stann. Well, Stann dropped out of the fight, so what does Lombard do? Like

a true fighter he takes a fight 2 weeks earlier to earn his shot. In Boestch, he faces

someone just as dangerous as Stann. The come from behind knockout of Yushin Okami

earlier this year is proof of that. With a win over Lombard, he could make his case for a title

shot as well.

The Bottom Line: Lombard should walk through Boestch like many expect him to

do, and if he was promised a title shot with a win he still deserves it.

Anderson Silva vs. Hector Lombard (New Year’s Eve show)

If he beats Boestch convincingly, then people will be calling for this fight come July 22nd.

Ed Herman vs. Jake Shields (August 11th, UFC 150 – Henderson vs. Edgar 2)

A fight at middleweight no one is talking about. After coming back from two years of

rehabbing injuries, Ed Herman has finished all three of his fights impressively. Shields

is returning to the division where he attained his most significant wins over Dan

Henderson, Robbie Lawler, and Jason Miller. While a win does not put them at the title,

it does put them in the mix.

The Bottom Line: I would pick Herman, but it is hard to say how much the jump up

in weight will affect Shields good or bad.

Ed Herman vs. Constantinos Philippou (UFC on Fox 5 card in December)

Philippou lost his short notice fight to enter into the UFC, but is on a 4-fight win streak

and it is time he took on a veteran.


Michael Bisping vs. Brian Stann (September 22nd, UFC 152 – Benavidez vs. Johnson)

After this fight happens, neither fighter should be in line for a shot regardless of who wins.

For Stann, he still needs to time to improve his ground game. He may be able to stand

with Anderson, but when facing a BJJ black belt, the ground is always a threat. Bisping

has never beat a Top 10 fighter despite coming close. His four most recent wins came

over Jason Miller, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Jorge Rivera, and Dan Miller. Two do not even compete

in the octagon anymore, and the other two have dropped to welterweight. Every time

he competed against a decent name or top fighter he has lost, whether it is Chael Sonnen,

Wanderlei Silva, or Dan Henderson.

The Bottom Line: Bisping should take this. He has the better boxing and movement

to stay away from Stann’s power and could easily take this fight to the ground.

Michael Bisping vs. Rich Franklin (Early 2013)

Franklin may be taking on Cung Le later this year, but should make it past him. If

Bisping can get past the former champion, it will give him the name value on his resume

to challenge for the belt.

In the end, there are many who want the UFC middleweight belt. Fighters in other

organizations like Strikeforce’s Luke Rockhold and Tim Kennedy, fighters willing to cut weight

like Rashad Evans and Gegard Mousasi, and fighters with losses to the champion like

Vitor Belfort and Rich Franklin. It is my belief that Hector Lombard posses a threat, and

24 straight wins is one of the longest current streaks. He just has to be impressive in

his debut to make it a possibility. The average fan has to see him as the number one

contender, and he cannot do that by squeaking by.

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