UFC middleweight Michael Bisping is injured, and his inactivity will most likely result in an interim title opportunity for two other top-five fighters.
UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping was set to fight this summer in a matchup that would define his career and legacy. His would-be opponent, Georges St-Pierre, who many consider the greatest of all time, expressed interest in the bout as well, despite a four-year layoff. A press conference occurred in March in which the English champion and the Canadian squared off for pictures and engaged with the press.
However, due to a knee injury and other ambiguous reasons, Bisping can’t fight St-Pierre until late 2017. Given his injury, though, fighting in the fall appears to fit the champion just fine. Bisping is aware, however, that an interim championship fight could be on the horizon. As he told the Believe You Me podcast:
“From my understanding, Georges still wants to fight me and I still want to fight Georges. Now they’re saying they want to do a fight in July, and I said my knee isn’t going to be ready in July.” He continued, “he’s not going to be ready until October, November. So, for me that plays perfectly, but I know the UFC wants me to fight; and they’re saying if I can’t fight, they’re going to do an interim title fight.”
As Bisping’s injury heals, the UFC will most likely pit the middleweight division’s No. 3 and No. 1 contenders, Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero, against each other. Speaking with ESPN, UFC president Dana White said, “We’re trying to put together that Bisping-Romero fight. If [Bisping] can’t fight this summer, we’ll probably create an interim title between (Yoel) Romero and Robert Whittaker.”
Both Romero and Whittaker have been on a tear for the past couple of years. Romero has won eight straight fights and has not lost a bout in six years. His most significant victories come over Ronaldo Souza and former champions Lyoto Machida and Chris Weidman. Whittaker, on the other hand, is riding a seven-fight win streak, has not lost in three years, and has beaten the likes of Uriah Hall, Derek Brunson and Ronaldo Souza.
If an interim champion is crowned, it will be interesting to see who faces Bisping in late 2017.