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CagePotato Presents: The State of the UFC’s Middleweight Division

(So, Anderson, who would *you* like to face next?) 

By Jared Jones

Let’s face it, the current state of the middleweight division is that of anarchy, a notion made all the more bewildering when you consider that it has been trapped beneath the crushing, totalitarian rule of the same king for the better part of a decade now. Yet somehow, it seems we can barely go a day without hearing that Vitor Belfort wants to fight so-and-so for the next title shot, or Michael Bisping wants to fight this guy for the right to do the same. Or that guy. Or that guy.

And indeed, the issue of solving who should rightfully receive the next beatdown shot at Anderson Silva is a tough one, dividing fans on a level that only TRT, vaseline, or Steven Seagal could match (scratch that, *no one* likes Sensei Seagal). Thankfully, CagePotato is here to clean up the mess instead of making it for once, so join us as we lay out in detail what must be done to organize the middleweight division’s long list of contenders in order of title shot worthiness (I swear to God I had something better for that). Feel free to debate this list if you want, but this is how it’s got to be.

On the Outside Looking In 

Michael Bisping

We know we like to poke fun at the guy, but in total seriousness, you’d have to be insane to believe that Bisping deserves a shot at the middleweight title. Yes, he is 4-1 in his past 5, as is the case for many of the UFC’s top middleweights, oddly enough. And yes, there’s little denying that Bisping has looked more tenacious and well rounded as of late than he ever has. But first, take a look at the names that make up his win streak. The biggest win he has under his belt in the past few years is Yoshihiro Akiyama, a 1-4 now welterweight who has been a complete bust in the UFC. Other than that, you have a now retired reality show host, a retired journeyman, and Dan Miller, who we absolutely refuse to say anything bad about.

But before you even scan through all of his past opponents, look at his last opponent. Regardless of how you scored the fight, Bisping did in fact lose to Chael Sonnen at UFC on FOX 2. To say that he would deserve a title shot with a lone victory over Brian Stann would be jumping the gun a little, don’t you think? Bisping needs to prove he can not only hang with, but defeat, at least a couple of the division’s top contenders before he should even be mentioned in the title picture by anyone but himself.

Brian Stann

A lot of what can be said for Bisping can arguably be said for Brian Stann, whose wins at middleweight, though impressive in execution, did not exactly come over a who’s who of the division either. Amidst wins over a two time promotional washout, a submission “specialist,” and the UFC’s punching bag, Stann’s biggest win is that of Chris Leben, which, while not a huge victory, is still more impressive than that of Akiyama these days.

The common link between these two is of course, Chael P. Sonnen. Stann was absolutely dominated by Sonnen from start to finish in their battle at UFC 136, stuck defending a rear-naked choke for a good deal of the first round and succumbing to an arm-triangle in the second. Bisping, on the other hand, was not only able to take Sonnen the distance, but lost a closely contested decision in doing so. Do their respective performances against Sonnen place one of them higher than the other? Absolutely not. The fact that these two were recently paired to throw down at UFC 152 is no coincidence, because they both stand on exactly the same ground, and are in need of not only a win on September 22nd, but at least one more high profile win before they get to call themselves top contenders

Chael Sonnen 

I can already hear the cries of “Anderson nuthugger” on the horizon, but if you know me at all, you know that I am a fan of Mr. Sonnen, despite his body’s inability to cash the checks that his mouth writes. That being said, we can only look into the rear-view mirror for so long, and although Sonnen’s performance against Silva at UFC 117 was nearly perfect, his performance at UFC 148 was anything but. We all know that the UFC could sell Sonnen/Silva III in its sleep, but the truth is, Sonnen simply needs a little time off to rest and recover.

His list of wins is easily the most impressive of anyone in this category, but with two losses to the champ, Sonnen finds himself in a similar position to that of Josh Koscheck. Could he beat most of his fellow contenders? Probably. Do most of us really think he stands a chance of beating Silva a third time around? Not really, but like I said, we would sure as hell watch him try again. But before Sonnen dusts off his plastic belt and starts making audacious claims about the people of Brazil, we think he needs at least a couple wins before he should be launched back up the middleweight rankings. For his return fight, perhaps he could face a guy like Mark Munoz, who was also recently knocked off the immediate contenders list. A win over Munoz, followed by a win over another contender, would easily warrant him a spot at the top once again.

Join us on page 2 for a look at the division’s upper-tier contenders…

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Cagepotato Comments

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The12ozCurls- July 21, 2012 at 9:06 pm
Are you KIDDING ME - I am not a Lombard fan but that was some weird ass - crazy - CANADIAN - bullhsit
The12ozCurls- July 21, 2012 at 9:05 pm
salem123- July 20, 2012 at 6:24 pm
like Arthur replied I am shocked that a student able to earn $9035 in four weeks on the internet. have you seen this web link
MaritalArtist- July 19, 2012 at 7:46 am
Let me tell you my thoughts, as sometimes discombobulated they are. There are several factors involved here in who should fight Anderson next. Which fighter stands the best chance of beating him (weidman, sonnen, Evans, vitor, hector, and belcher), which fighter would bring the best ppv draw (sonnen, Lombard, which fighter is ranked higher (sonnen), which fighter has had the longest winning streak (Lombard), which fighter has beaten the toughest guys (sonnen, belcher, weidman), which fighters have already had a crack at Anderson and should step aside at least another fight or two (sonnen, vitor), which fighters outside the MW division would challenge Anderson (GSP, Evans, jones), and which fighters would be most awesome/fun to watch fight Anderson (GSP, sonnen, jones).

I hope it's one of those 3 fights, but if it isn't, I don't wanna wait around another 8 months to watch a silva fight. Mr right should just take a backseat to mr right now. Who should it be? Not bisping. Yet. Possibly Evans or weidman. Lombard only if he pummels boetsch
RearNakedSpoon- July 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm
@XENOPHON GSP is the only one who is not the largest fighter in his division. Condit is pretty much Silva's size so GSP is fighting bigger competition and winning purely on skill and athleticism while Silva and Jones are cruising with their size advantage. That's why they need to be thrown into the higher weight classes.
170 still has plenty of talent to keep GSP busy, if Silva gets bored in his hollow division I'm sure he can make the weight cut.
XENOPHON- July 18, 2012 at 12:27 pm
back@stak - There are thousands of fighters, only a few in the UFC. If you get off the bandwagon, you'd see that most of those UFC fighters are not as highly ranked once you stop relying on their internal rankings.

I don't enjoy paying to get spoon feed a hyped title fights - when the guy holding the belt is obviously much better than anyone else the promotion locks into a shitty one-sided agreement.

It's not as if those who are not in title fights are being offered any real money. I think most know the videos, and they are called Bum Fights.

I don't know if GSP would hurt Diaz or Condit. Last we read about GSP, he didn't want to go to the ground with Diaz - or stand in front of his 100 to 1 strikes. And we know Condit is no fool to play the GSP game either.

As for 205, yes is shitty. There is no one there that can beat Jones - unless a fluke. I am tired of watching (paying for) the same people each of the weight classes fight each other time-and-time again.

Why doesn't the UFC let them fight all comers, since nobody on their payroll can bring us a real fight - absent Sonnen's fleeting dominance. How bad-ass was Silva laying on his back for 6 rounds.

He wasn't he got lucky once, and capitalized on a Sonnen bobble the second time. Same thing happens at the bar outside your local military base every weekend.

What's next, we going to get stuck with Henderson challenging Jones? Or is that called a "...Joe Silva pull something for better ratings out of your ass for the next line-up."

You write that GSP, Silva, and Jones are invincible. I have to agree, but for differing reasons. The biggest being that they refuse to step up a few pounds to meet bigger competition - where they should be.
Houstons db- July 18, 2012 at 9:01 am
bisbing should fight the lombard/boetsch winner. hopefully its lombard so he can wake bisbing up. i hate to put a lot of stock in a fighter but weidman didnt just dispatch a normal man. He dominated a f'n bad ass. in dominating fashion none the less. maybe him and lombard should dance after he dollywops timmy..
Stak40- July 18, 2012 at 8:42 am
Middleweight div isn't weak, Silva just makes everyone else look like bums. Is 205 shitty too? No foreseeable change in champion there. Would 170 be shitty too if GSP weren't hurt and beat Condit and Diaz already. Your attempts at discrediting Silva is sad. Hate his personality all you want but to try and act like he isn't the baddest motherfucker to step in the cage is ridiculous. Not sure how you can even be a true fan of MMA. Not nuthugging, just facts. Look at his resume man and tell me who has one more impressive. Not to mention he actually finishs fight.
mmaprophet- July 18, 2012 at 8:38 am
Big fan of Weidman, love the guy but to claim he is the top dog(contender) at MW just because he beat an over-rated Munoz...baffling. Munoz has been, is, and will always be a mid-tier fighter. he does nothing that makes me believe he'll ever get a title shot. Say what you want about Bisping(not a big fan) but he beats the guys the UFC put in front of him and he will easily decision Stann. Weidman has not beat a who's who of fighters but yet he gets ordained the top dog?... unbelievable and it makes me question your credibilty.
XENOPHON- July 18, 2012 at 9:04 am
The prohpet just up his share value, ching ching $$$...
J.Jones- July 18, 2012 at 8:49 am
Not many of the current contenders have a lot of wins over big competition, if any, but Weidman has the best streak running, beat a former title challenger on a week's notice, and just destroyed an upper-echelon fighter in Munoz. Who do you think is the top dog? Lord knows I wouldn't want to have my credibility called into question by a prophet of all people.
XENOPHON- July 18, 2012 at 8:20 am
@ Vitor Belfort - Is that your limp wrist? All the other fighters photos are complementing, Epic photo!

@danomite - You're right. The division sucks. The UFC promotion has the legal, binding, and contractual power to tell Anderson to move up, but they refuse.

It's one reason the UFC snagged Lombard, to add a new face. Losing Anderson middle wight draw - would cost that division millions (money that FOX demands per their own exclusive agreement)

It's one reason the UFC snagged Lombard, he cost pennies on the dollar. What to you think they are going to pay Lombard - who had a better record than Anderson $23K, with a win clause of an extra $17k - maybe he makes a bit more, but what I am saying is it will be peanuts to the UFC.

All the UFC has done, is injected a new artificial hope that the mixing up of the same cards will change the outcome for Anderson's next match.

It's simply smoke and mirrors promoting. Anderson fights Jones. Nothing else is acceptable. Stann-NO, Bisping-NO, Boetsch-NO, Munoz-Hell NO, Belcher-Doubtful-NO, or Lombard-Possibly NO.

Thinking Weidman with less than 9 fights, mostly "B" league fighters is going to oust Anderson is self deluding.

Anderson needs to move-on, his fear of losing to GSP or Jones is becoming clear as daylight. Dana's fear of losing one of the 3 cash cows is even worse, its misplaced and the sign of a myopic CEO.

Best thing happened was GSP losing, everyone wanted to see him rematch Serra, and even after GSP did that, for a time they thought if Serra could win, so could others.

Nobody think Anderson will lose, nor do they think Jones will lose, and there is a dam good case that JDS won't be losing anytime soon either.
Crow42- July 18, 2012 at 7:25 am
Cant wait for rashad to drop down to middleweight to sort this mess out LOL
RearNakedSpoon- July 18, 2012 at 2:21 am
Rory MacDonald would beat the piss out of any of these "contenders".
They should disband 185 and create a 195 division, 205er's without freak genetics (like Jon Jones) will fill that division in no time.
gruge- July 18, 2012 at 1:22 am
"Stann’s biggest win is that of Chris Leben, which, while not a huge victory"

Bisping has also beaten Leben
Mr_Misanthropy- July 18, 2012 at 12:23 am
Rehcardo Rehtardo-

Why would Anderson ever get tired of having his nuts hugged? Who wouldn't want their own personal ball caddy?
remeadial- July 17, 2012 at 11:36 pm
Good analysis.

I think Sonnen leaves the division to 205 until Andy retires or he picks a fight with Belfort to sell out a Brazilian soccer stadium, but not on the 50 and 50 deal he's on. Full cut of the PPV, smashes Belfort in Brazil and he flies home a very rich man.

Bisping v. Stann, Belcher v. Lombard (if he passes Boetsch), Weidman v. Winner of Bisping v. Stann fight (Bisping) or v. Rashad Evans. Boetsch v. Munoz.

As for Andy, jump to 205 to beat up Hendo again, Evans, or stay and fight GSP. Andy's my favorite fighter and with only 1-2 years left, I want to see big fights.
Get Off Me- July 17, 2012 at 8:24 pm
Gimme Sonnen/Weidman, Belfort/Bisping, Belcher/Lombard, Franklin/Le and I'll be happy
Qlay- July 17, 2012 at 7:31 pm
Speaking of bandwagons, I predict that the winner of Boetsch and Lombard will put an exclamation point on their win, whoever it may be. People next week will be saying the winner of that is a contender. I am in agreement here...winner of boetsch/lombard gets winner of belcher/weidman. Belfort gets winner of stann/bisping, because realistically he has only beaten Rumble since getting face kicked, and that was at Rumbleweight. That way the winner of stann//bisping/belfort is a contender when Silva beats the next guy. Also, Franklin and Cung Le should still fight.
Nick Bruiser- July 17, 2012 at 7:12 pm
belcher vs weidman for #1 contender please.
Pen Fifteen- July 17, 2012 at 6:39 pm
Rewatch the pool table scene from Out for Justice(because, face it, we've all seen it) and then tell me you still don't like Sensei Seagal.
Keegan Calnan- July 17, 2012 at 6:28 pm
How can Boetsch and Beltcher be above Bisping? Beltcher has only beat Rousimir Palahares and Boestsch get lucky and caught Okami after being completely dominated. Bisping arguebly beat Chael P. Sonnen which I think is a bigger accomplishment. Then the build up to silva/bisping would almost be as could as Sonnen.
danomite- July 17, 2012 at 5:35 pm
"Brian Stann, whose wins at middleweight, though impressive in execution, did not exactly come over a who’s who of the division either."
It's funny how you could say that about every person on this list, including 'top dog' chris wiedman. Just admit that there really are no good contenders at 185 lbs. Anderson Silva is the king of a sad, sad, weak, shallow, sad divsion. And if you think Hector Lombard has even the slightest chance of beating Anderson Silva, you're crazy. I doubt he'll even get past Boetsch.
Gorkoan- July 17, 2012 at 5:26 pm
I'd like to add Rich Franklin to the picture, as he is a better fighter than both Stann and Bisping. Anderson and Vitor are the only fighters at middleweight who has beaten him, and they are both fast and accurate ko-artist. Franklin vs the winner of bisping vs Stann would therefore be great.
fightfan- July 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm
Whats HILARIOUS is the fact that Bisping has been in the UFC for 6 plus years and his TOP win is Matt Hammil....and most polls taken after that fight said (85-90%) Hammil won. He cant beat a top guy and hasnt in 6 plus years. He needs to beat 2, if not 3 names like Stann, Belfort and Stann to get a title shot.

Maybe he would of been a top fighter, but we'll probably never know. He turns 34 at beg of 2013.

Maybe now he's rethinging not making a stink over fighting guys like Day, Sinosec, Haynes, McCarthy, Schaeffer, etc, etc. Hell it took the UFC 8 or 9 fights to give him some1 with the skills of Chris Leben. Now that he is getting up there in age & we got young, well rounded & skilled guys like Carmont, Phillapou, Weidman, etc,etc Its probably his last chancee to win 3 or 4 r in a row to ever get that shot at a title. I never see it happening, cuz he NEVER beat 1 TOP guy, yet alone 2 or 3 in a row. Cuz there are no more weaker 1 dimesional guys for the UFC to feed him.
El Guapo- July 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm
Dana says Johnny Bones Jones
Ricardo Guitardo- July 17, 2012 at 3:31 pm
Anderson Silva wants you to give his nuts a rest they have been hugged enough.