The UFC middleweight division used to be the picture of stability. Anderson Silva ruled as the undeniably greatest fighter who ever lived, and there wasn’t anyone at 185 who could even come close. But that all changed when the Chris came.
Since Chris Weidman shattered the illusion of Silva’s invulnerability, the Middleweight division has been a crazy place. The title has been passed around like a hot potato, and in a twist nobody saw coming, the current undisputed middleweight champion if the world is none other than perennial contender/always chokes on the big fights Michael Bisping.
But that isn’t even the craziest thing going on at middleweight right now. In the year 2016, 19 years after he began fighting professionally, a few weeks before his 46th birthday, people are seriously considering Dan Henderson for a UFC title shot.
The same Dan Henderson who smashed Fedor at heavyweight all those years ago. The same Dan Henderson who held two belts at once in Pride and also won the Strikeforce title at light heavyweight. The same Dan Henderson who hasn’t won consecutive fights since 2011, and until last weekend hasn’t registered a legitimate win over any notable fighter not named Shogun Rua since he re-signed with the UFC.
Bisping Hendo 2, for the title, in 2016? There is nobody out there in the extensively varied MMA blogosphere who could or would have predicted that. But it’s not as crazy as it sounds. I can think of at least 3 reasons why this fight makes more sense than you might think.
1: The Timetables Match Up.
This one may seem a little simple, but in a division which has been as ravaged by injuries and drop-outs as the Middleweight division has been as of late, just getting people’s schedules to line up can be half the battle. Bisping and Henderson literally just fought on the same night. While Henderson took a little more damage in his fight with Lombard, but it’s unlikely to keep him out for long, while Bisping could probably fight tomorrow. Making him wait for someone else to pick up a win before starting a full training camp seems a little redundant, not to mention dangerous, what with the crazy amount of injuries in title fights at 185 since Silva lost, and seeing as Bisping is in his late thirties, I doubt he would want to wait around too long for a more worthy opponent to come around.
2: The Fight Would Sell Itself.
We all know the story. The year was 2009: Michael Bisping was a young up and comer in the middleweight division, while Henderson was even then seen as a crafty veteran of the sport. The tension was palpable, the amount of trash Bisping had talked was only fuelled by Henderson’s stoic silence on the issue, almost as if he knew something we didn’t.
On the biggest pay per view the UFC has ever had, Bisping had his lights shut off by Henderson’s legendary right hand, the H-Bomb. This sent the crowd into a frenzy, propelled Henderson’s legend to new heights, and sent Bisping reeling back down the ranks while forever immortalizing him in the internet hall of greatest knockouts ever, but on the wrong end.
You would be crazy to think Bisping doesn’t want that fight back. Since then Bisping has continued his trend of win a few, lose the big one, but now he seems to have bucked that trend. Henderson carried on for a while before seeing a steep decline in the last 5 years. Henderson has always wanted a UFC title, and while he has declined in every area, the one thing he has left is that staggeringly powerful right hand. It was this power That gave Bisping trouble in their first fight, and that along with the animosity they have proven they can build up makes for an interesting rematch.
3: Who Else Is He Going To Fight?
This is probably the biggest reason to throw Henderson in to the mix. At the minute Bisping is obviously ranked number 1 in the UFC official rankings, while Henderson is ranked 13th, 14th if you count Yoel Romero.
This is a pretty poor position to argue for a title shot, but like I said the Middleweight division is a little crazy now, and when you look at it again it’s not that implausible.
First there’s Rockhold, who not only just lost to Bisping but was knocked out in devastating fashion, so he won’t be back fighting for a while.
Chris Weidman, Jacare Souza and Anderson Silva are all currently injured.
Yoel Romero, the true number 1 contender, is currently suspended for a USADA violation for a tainted supplement.
Lyoto Machida, Uriah Hall, Tim Kennedy, and Thales Leites are all coming off losses, and Gegard Mousassi and Derek Brunson are scheduled to face off at UFC 200.
That leaves Henderson and Robert Whittaker, who even though he is ranked 6, with his age and experience he is more of a prospect than a contender at this stage of his career. If you had to choose between these two fights, Henderson is the bigger name and definitely a bigger draw.
So there you have it, three reasons why Henderson should fight Bisping for the title. To be honest if it was a perfect world I would like to see Henderson retire on a high and leave with his win to Lombard, while Bisping should wait for either Weidman or Jacare to heal up or Romero’s suspension to end, and fight one of them.
But this isn’t a perfect world, and if Henderson is still willing to be the old man in the young man’s game, still questing for that elusive UFC title, I’d rather see him get it sooner rather than later. Let him have his shot and let the chips fall when they may, don’t cause more damage to him feeding him to prospects and up and comers.
So while Bisping is champ and looking to fight again soon, why not against Henderson? The fight would sell, they have a history, the timetables line up, and most importantly there isn’t really anyone else immediately available.
Sounds crazy I know, but if you want to see the marquee division for crazy in the UFC, you’ve come to the right place.