After much speculation without official confirmation, the UFC’s president Dana White has made it clear that Yoel Romero will be the next man to face Michael Bisping for the middleweight title.
Bisping’s reign atop the UFC’s middleweight division has not been one without its controversy. After stealing the title away from Luke Rockhold at UFC 199, Bisping’s first title-defence came against the 13th ranked Dan Henderson, who despite his somewhat patchy form, was given a shot at UFC gold as a parting gift of sorts before his eventual retirement.
The Count managed to successfully defend his title against Hendo and from there, was in talks to partake in a catchweight superfight with the welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley, but now, in the wake of the fairly hostile reaction from fans and fighters alike, UFC president Dana White has put the brakes on any super-fight talk by making it clear that there is only one man who is in line for a 185lb title-shot.
Yoel Romero is the freakishly athletic, former Olympian whose run in the UFC has seen him go 8-0, taking wins over some of the best middleweights on the planet including Chris Weidman, Jacare Souza and Lyoto Machida. It seems now as though Bisping’s wish for a big-money fight will have to wait and though White gave no indication of when exactly this championship bout will take place, he was adamant in the fact that the number-1 contender Romero would be the next in line.
Speaking to the UFC Unfiltered Podcast recently, White had this to say on the future of the middleweight division.
“Yoel Romero’s been floating out there a long time waiting for a title shot. Bisping wanted to do that grudge match with Dan Henderson. It was going to be Dan Henderson’s last fight. I’ve always shown Henderson the respect I felt he deserved. He’s a guy who’s fought everybody out there. So we did that fight and he’s got to defend his title now against the No. 1 contender. If you look at what Romero did to Chris Weidman, he absolutely deserves the shot.”
With Bisping currently nursing himself back to health after knee surgery, his most recent comments seem to imply that he will be ready to defend his belt in a contest as early as April or May, a far-cry from some of the original reports that had him set for a much longer lay-off.
With a very heavily-crowded middleweight title-picture right now, fight-fans can at least rest assured that the next time they see the undisputed 185lb title up for grabs, it will more than likely be in a contest between the Count and the Soldier of God.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena