There are some real killers waiting for title shots at 185, but the next one is going to GSP. After winning the belt from Luke Rockhold, Bisping’s first title defense was against Dan Henderson, who leapfrogged the rankings for a couple of reasons…
- Because he’s a legend, and he was retiring, and the UFC was giving him a bit of a favor.
- Because he brutally KO’d Bisping at UFC 100, and this was the rematch that both guys wanted.
Some title shots are earned, some are just favors. This was also right around the time that the UFC was being sold, so it was one of the last real favors they could do for t he “old guard” of fighters who helped build the promotion before there was any money to be made at all. Hendo’s a legend, and this was the “money fight” so to speak, even thought it didn’t do big numbers.
Now, GSP’s title shot against Bisping isn’t quite as egregious, but it’s still an interesting choice to say the least. GSP is a 170’er, moving up in weight class after years away and serious knee surgeries while he was taking time off, moving up in weight and getting an immediate title shot.
There are worse examples of title shots, for sure. But here’s what Joe Rogan thinks about it:
“I really want to see Yoel Romero get a shot at the title. I know he’s waiting, he’s waiting right now for what I think is an interesting fight between Michael Bisping and Georges St-Pierre. I think that’s an interesting fight. I don’t like it in terms of the hierarchy of the division. I think that, as far as the division goes, it’s not good at all. It sort of hijacks the whole situation.”
Joe goes on to say…
“I don’t like it. I’m not concerned because there’s great fighters and you get them together and you make great fights. I’m not concerned at that. But from a purist point of view, and someone who feels like – look, if you’re going to have a champion and you’re gonna have these divisions where one man rules over the division, there should be a very clear hierarchy… If you have a champion and you have all these people waiting in line to get a shot at that champion, the person who is perceived to be the best in that division is the one who should be fighting the champion next. The champion should always be fighting the number one available challenger. Right now, that is Yoel Romero.” (via MMAfighting)
It seems like these types of fights are only going to get more and more common. Champs know they have a very limited window to make some cash, and now that there actually IS some money moving around, they’ve got to grab it while they can. Look at a guy like Mighty Mouse who fights all comers, and is getting close to beating Anderson Silva’s title defense record, and puts on great fights showcasing some of the most technical skills in the world, and he doesn’t get nearly enough credit.
On the other side of the coin, we’ve got guys like Conor McGregor, who is stacking his net worth without having ever defended a belt. Not everyone can sell tickets like that, but everyone’s trying to get their piece of the pie. It’s a strange time for the UFC, it really feels like we’re at a crossroads. They’ve got to pay down this huge debt they took out, but they’ve also got to fight against Bellator and plenty of other promotions who are trying to pick off a lot of their ranked fighters, and also try to make enough money to stay afloat.
The moral of the story? Expect more and more of these questionable title fights. Now, nobody is saying GSP vs Bisping isn’t an interesting fight, so don’t get the wrong idea there.