Since Michael Bisping knocked out Luke Rockhold last year at UFC 199 to claim the UFC middleweight title, the 185-pound division has been in a complicated spot. Despite the division having a plethora of contenders with legitimate claims to title shots, Bisping instead first defended his belt against barely ranked middleweight Dan Henderson before embarking on a long game of will they or won’t they with Georges St-Pierre. In the meantime, Robert Whittaker put together quite the resume, defeating two top-five opponents to claim an interim middleweight title as a way of keeping the division moving. Now, with St-Pierre having just wrested the title from Bisping and Whittaker waiting in the wings, it would appear that the division once lorded over by Anderson Silva is finally ready to get back on track.
Or maybe not.
Though St-Pierre says he is contractually obligated to defend the middleweight title, many people doubt that “GSP” will remain at 185 pounds, including former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, who recently told Submission Radio that he doesn’t believe St-Pierre will fight Whittaker and that the UFC should not allow St-Pierre to drop down and face welterweight champion Tyron Woodley without stripping him of the title.
“Unfortunately it sounds like we have a hold up and it’s gonna take some time to iron out what’s next. . . I know [St-Pierre] is contractually obligated to defend his belt but as we all heard on the mic, he’s backtracking and he’s trying to find his way out, seemingly. . .
“I think it’s ridiculous if they were to let him hold onto it and not pull that. Let him relinquish that and go down to fight Tyron like it sounds like he wants to do. I think they should just get back to what made this company what it is. You go too far down the wrong trail and there’s no turning back. You go too far into Conor McGregor land and you get that fight going and the whole thing is a mess. They need to just put the best against the best in each division and stop jumping around.”
And as the former champion who rebounded from his loss with a stoppage of the tenth-ranked David Branch back in September, Rockhold believes he is the best in the division and he’d like to prove it against the man he calls “the real champion” at 185 pounds, Robert Whittaker, even if he has to do it in Whittaker’s own backyard.
“I’m ready to go and I know Whittaker is ready to go. Obviously, he sees GSP and he wants his payday but is he gonna get that? How long is he gonna drag his feet for? I’m ready to move forward with the division and get things going.
“I’ve talked about [fighting Whittaker at UFC Perth] with the UFC and it is potentially on the table but I’m not going out there to fight for the interim title. GSP needs to figure it out. He needs to move on, get out, and really, Robert Whittaker is the real champion. Bisping lost that title, in my eyes, a long time ago when he decided to fight guys outside the top ten, and welterweights for that matter. He earned it. He got the title but Whittaker’s been the man for the last year. He’s fought Jacare, he’s fought Yoel, he’s fought the top contenders and that’s what it takes to be the champion. In my eyes, Whittaker’s the champ. So I’ll be ready to go to Perth, it’s just a matter of how this whole thing plays out.
“I know Whittaker obviously wants that fight [with St-Pierre], as he should, but I don’t think he’s gonna get it. I’m more than willing to move on and take him on in Perth. I love Australia and the kids a stud and I’d be honored to fight him. “
UFC 221 is scheduled to take place in Perth, Australia next February and as Whittaker was raised in Australia, it is widely believed that the UFC will attempt to have him headline the fight card there. Of course, if St-Pierre does end up facing Whittaker, Perth is a non-starter as the French-Canadian fighter is one of the biggest stars in the company and would likely be used to reinvigorate the Canadian MMA market, meaning St-Pierre and Whittaker could be on the shelf until late Spring of 2018. But if that happens, Rockhold has a backup plan that includes the recently dethroned middleweight champion.
“If [the UFC] wait, obviously everyone knows what I want: it’s Bisping and if it’s his last fight and he’s going to London, the man says he didn’t get lucky, the man says he’s better than me, he’s been running his mouth forever, then put your money where your mouth is. I’ll go show up on your front doorstep, and I’ll take your head off in London. It would be my pleasure. Step up.
“If he’s gonna go fight again, there’s no one else he should fight. If he’s gonna go step into the cage again, there’s no one else he should fight right now. It’s me and him, that’s what it should be. If he’s gonna run away like most of us expect him to do, I think it’s a very telling situation. But if you’re gonna fight again you better damn well believe I should be the guy.”
Though teasing a potential retirement before UFC 217, Bisping said after his loss to St-Pierre that he refused to retire after getting choked out on television and that he would like to fight once more in front of his hometown in London. Fortunately, the UFC is set to return to London on March 17 for a Fight Night event that currently lacks a main event. But before Rockhold will commit to that, he wants to see what is happening with the two titles in the division first, and he thinks we should all have answers pretty soon.
“I want to see what the f**k happens. GSP needs to make up his mind and the UFC needs to make up their minds. We’ll see what happens. . . I think you can expect something announced here shortly. I would imagine they’re pretty eager to figure this thing out.”
TUF. Two quarterfinal fights went down on the latest episode of TUF.
Out. Frankie Edgar is injured and out of his title shot against Max Holloway at UFC 218.
Out too. Dominick Cruz is injured and out of UFC 219 fight with Jimmie Rivera.
$$. Holly Holm’s agent says fight with Cris Cyborg off due to inadequate compensation.
Title. Jessica Andrade wants a title shot against Rose Namajunas.
WB. Stephen Thompson’s coach says they have no interest in rumored Darren Till fight.
UFC 217 Rewind.
Dana honestly doesn’t seem to have much interest in GSP-Conor.
Tattoo artists react to MMA tattoos.
Pettis on a boat.
Heavy Hands. Discussing the three new UFC champions and how they did it.
The MMA Circus. UFC 217 recap and a preview of UFC Norfolk.
Bushido Talk. Continuing the discussion of UFC 217 and the fallout from it.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Hit with a minor setback but should be back to full contact in six weeks or so. Thanks to the @ufc for always having my back. Max I’ll see you down the road. #Believe
Injuries are part of this fight game. Frankies the man. Wish him a speedy recovery
— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) November 9, 2017
Detroit, you guys are a bunch of tough mfers. I met many of you last month when we visited. You guys deserve the best fight card of the year and youre still gonna get it. I’m fighting no matter what
— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) November 9, 2017
And the aftermath of Frankie’s withdrawal.
— Cub Swanson (@CubSwanson) November 8, 2017
With @FrankieEdgar out of the fight it needs to go to the most gangster MFr in the division @CubSwanson!
— TJ Dillashaw (@TJDillashaw) November 9, 2017
I believe @cubswanson deserves a shot at the @UFC #featherweight title. Anyone else agree? #Repost @legacybuildersinc ・・・ @danawhite!!! Please please pretty please give Cub the title in Frankie’s place!!!!!! #killercub #killercubswanson #hehasearnedit
Damn. Cub has everyone pulling for him.
The fight everyone wants to see @ufc @CubSwanson vs @BlessedMMA let’s make this happen for 218!
— Nick Jonas (@nickjonas) November 9, 2017
very hard to see how @ufc fan favorite #3 ranked @CubSwanson doesn’t get the chance to fight @BlessedMMA now that frankie edgar is out.
cub is ready to go! #ufc218
— jonathan tucker (@jonathanmtucker) November 8, 2017
But then there’s this guy, who bolted Cub once upon a time.
@ufc , I’m ready to fight for the title with Holloway. Give me my rematch!!!
— Jose Aldo Junior (@josealdojunior) November 9, 2017
Hey @BlessedMMA,I want my title back. I deserve the rematch. Let’s make this happen @ufc
— Jose Aldo Junior (@josealdojunior) November 9, 2017
And this one.
I’m down. ♂️ #ufc218
— Ricardo Lamas (@RicardoLamasMMA) November 8, 2017
And another fight that fell apart is also gonna pull some interest.
It appears @DominickCruz retired himself before i got to him. Next stop title shot. @TJDillashaw don’t try to hide behind @MightyMouseUFC
— Jimmie Rivera (@JimmieRivera135) November 9, 2017
Well I’ll be damned JIMMY!!! @JimmieRivera135 Looks like you need ya self a Huckleberry. @seanshelby @danawhite
— Aljamain Sterling (@FunkMaster_UFC) November 9, 2017
The Injury Bug is making a vaunted comeback. At least he waited till after UFC 217.
— Michael Chiesa (@MikeMav22) November 9, 2017
Se Nao quer lutar diga: “Eu não quero lutar porque sou frouxo”. Tirou o dele da reta inventando desculpas…
Say that: I don’t want fight with you because IAM scared. Don’t make excuses honey.. pic.twitter.com/MxA03j0cYM
— Paulo Henrique (@BorrachinhaMMA) November 9, 2017
Look at boy a year ago.U have my promise. Will kick your arse, if my title path detours.Easy money you’re a fraud! @BorrachinhaMMA pic.twitter.com/3LmRxVFSbt
— Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunson) November 8, 2017
So @MikeMav22 is throwing my name around, LETS GO!
— Evan Dunham (@evandunham155) November 8, 2017
Let’s do it. @dannyrube @seanshelby @AliAbdelaziz00 @danawhite pic.twitter.com/B9uBAtXfim
— Michael Chiesa (@MikeMav22) November 8, 2017
Hell yeah let’s scrap. Battle of the gritty southpaws. @seanshelby @danawhite https://t.co/P1RXjzfRY7
— Evan Dunham (@evandunham155) November 9, 2017
@DustinPoirier obviously still want to fight the winner of y’alls fight Saturday but much respect and thanks for the respect on UFC tonight
— James Vick (@JamesVickMMA) November 9, 2017
The Reem has quite the collection.
Still chasing that missing belt! ~ 24 days to go. #ufc218 #reemisdetroit #thereem #detroit pic.twitter.com/XusFrn2IjC
— Alistair Overeem (@Alistairovereem) November 8, 2017
Lot of talent in that room.
It’s awesome night with all these great minds collaborating and sharing years of info in making each other better. #noegos #ufcnorfolk #ninjastatus pic.twitter.com/XsrWIxaLjy
— John Dodson III (@JohnDodsonMMA) November 9, 2017
Some of these are kind of tricky.
Get involved, guess the UFC names and quote tweet us…
20. #280characters pic.twitter.com/8UyFvLMiSJ
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) November 8, 2017
Jessica-Rose Clark (7-4) vs. Bec Rawlings (7-6); UFC Sydney, Nov. 19.
Vanessa Porto (18-8) vs. Milana Dudieva (11-6); Invicta FC 26, Dec. 8.
Virna Jandiroba (11-0) vs. Amy Montenegro (8-2); Invicta FC 26, Dec. 8.
Amber Brown (6-4) vs. Tessa Simpson (5-2); Invicta FC 26, Dec. 8.
Karina Rodriguez (5-2) vs. Christine Ferea (1-1); Invicta FC 26, Dec. 8.
Thiago Alves (22-11) vs. Zak Cummings(21-5); UFC St. Louis, Jan. 14.
James Krause (24-7) vs. Alex White (12-3); UFC St. Louis, Jan. 14.
Marco Polo Reyes (7-4) vs. Matt Frevola (6-0); UFC St. Louis, Jan. 14.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
2003: The Pride 2003 Middleweight Grand Prix concluded with Wanderlei Silva stopping Quinton Jackson with knees in the finals. In the semifinals earlier that evening, Jackson stopped Chuck Liddell and Silva won a unanimous decision over Hidehiko Yoshida. Also that night, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira submitted Mirko Cro Cop with an armbar to claim the interim heavyweight title.
2013: Vitor Belfort knocked out Dan Henderson with a head kick at UFC Fight Night 32.
That’s all for today folks. Take it easy and Conor bless.
If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram, add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting, and like us on Facebook.