Malki Kawa is doing his best to lock down a title fight for his client.
Kawa, the well known MMA manager, represents many of the top talents in the sport today, including the presumptive No. 1 middleweight contender Yoel Romero. Presumptive is the key word there though as the UFC has yet to officially announce who middleweight champion Michael Bisping will be defending his belt against next. There have been rumblings about the potential for some fighters to jump to the front of the line of contenders, including former champion Anderson Silva and former welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre. And while Bisping has repeatedly voiced his willingness to fight Romero, he has also made it known that he wants the biggest fight possible and a superfight with St-Pierre is on his radar.
With a title shot for his client potentially slipping away, Kawa recently went on The Luke Thomas Show on SiriusXM Rush to discuss the middleweight title picture and the uncertainty for his client caused by Bisping “picking” his opponents.
“The reality of it is that Dana agrees and so does every single person that owns the UFC, has a piece of the UFC,” said Kawa. “From the celebrity owners to Ari Emanuel, Patrick Whitesell, every one of the employees at WME, every single person here at First Round Management, and probably the millions and millions of fans that watch the UFC agree that Yoel Romero deserves the next shot at Michael Bisping. I think the issue here is the following: Michael Bisping understands that his days are numbered when it comes to a guy like Yoel Romero. I think he understands the game very well from every opponent he’s picked.
“Obviously, you’ve seen what he’s done. He fought Dan Henderson. He wanted Dan Henderson in London. It made no sense whatsoever. The UFC didn’t want to do that fight. He kind of forced their hand because obviously he has the belt.”
From all indications, the UFC approached Bisping about a title defense against Henderson after a groundswell of fan support arose to give the aging legend one last crack at UFC gold. Bisping was only too happy to oblige given his previous, devastating loss to Henderson in one of the most iconic knockouts in MMA history. But the decision created a great deal of controversy among many at the top of the middleweight division and begat the idea among some that Bisping was avoiding top competition, and idea Kawa subscribes to though he says he understands Bisping’s motivations and thinks it’s good business for the champion.
“What I’ve seen from Mike is that he’s gonna call his shots and he’s gonna make smart moves, which I can’t blame him for. If you were managing Michael Bisping or you were Michael Bisping and you had your choice of waiting on a guy who’s been out for two and a half years, which might get you your largest payday, or fighting a guy who’s probably the scariest person in the UFC at this point. You’re talking about 10 fights, nine of them are knockouts? I don’t know that you’d want to fight this guy either.
“So I understand Michael Bisping but I also put this on Georges St-Pierre… Honestly, if he said, ‘I want to fight 170,’ he could easily come down and fight Tyron Woodley. But pick between Tyron Woodley and Michael Bisping. If you’re managing Michael Bisping, who do you choose and if you’re managing Georges St-Pierre, who do you choose? I think at the end of the day you stay clear of Yoel Romero and Tyron Woodley for as much as you can. And that’s the problem that we’re having right now.”
St-Pierre recently officially re-signed with the UFC and is awaiting the announcement of his first opponent and it’s expected to be a big name fight. St-Pierre’s coach Firas Zahabi has stated he wants St-Pierre to return either against Bisping or Conor McGregor, likely the two most marketable fights available currently. And while the economic factors at play here might help Kawa to understand Bisping’s actions, Kawa still says that the bottom line is Bisping is avoiding his client. Maybe not forever, but certainly for now.
“I don’t care what anybody says, he is absolutely ducking Yoel Romero right now. It’s been confirmed to me by everybody at the UFC. Michael Bisping wants no part of Yoel Romero at this point. None whatsoever.
“I’m not telling you that he’s necessarily ducking him because he doesn’t want to ever fight him, I just think that right now, at this point he’s just trying to sidestep that fight, take this Georges St-Pierre fight, hope he wins, and if he wins, ‘I’ll fight Yoel Romero.’ If he doesn’t win, ‘I got my payday,’ and then Yoel can go and fight Georges.”
As for Romero, there isn’t much sense in taking another fight outside of a title shot. The former Olympic silver medalist is currently on an eight-fight winning streak in the UFC with six of those wins coming by stoppage. That streak also contains knockout wins over former champions Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machida as well as decision victory over third ranked contender Jacare Souza. Kawa says that resume is more than enough for a title shot and regardless of Bisping’s financial goals, his client won’t settle for anything less.
“At this point, all we’re looking for is that championship fight so it’s either Michael Bisping or bust at this point.”
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My foot is broken
A post shared by Derrick Lewis (@thebeastufc) on Feb 21, 2017 at 1:32pm PST
A post shared by Derrick Lewis (@thebeastufc) on Feb 21, 2017 at 6:16pm PST
— Derrick Lewis (@Thebeast_ufc) February 21, 2017
Continuing the campaign.
@NeilMagny where you at you faker? #makeUFCgreatAgain #easymoney
— Jorge Masvidal UFC (@GamebredFighter) February 21, 2017
Good to see @budcrawford402 in the house supporting #TUF25 @ufc pic.twitter.com/QUo95ckxOy
— Cody Garbrandt (@Cody_Nolove) February 22, 2017
Gotta respect Conor always buttoning all the way up.
Happy whatever day it is pic.twitter.com/vFPrnRuAxw
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) February 22, 2017
lol I’m down for that too https://t.co/Qj7bzhJG9Q
— Lauren Murphy (@LaurenMurphyMMA) February 22, 2017
Yo @EllenbergerMMA lets throwdown in April @ufc
— BRYAN BARBERENA (@bryan_barberena) February 21, 2017
Nate training with Andre Ward and Peter Quillin.
#Repost @road2war with @repostapp ・・・ Good work today at the #virgilhuntergym in the bay with @chrisavila209 @andresogward @kidchocolate @natediaz209 @andrzejfonfara
A post shared by natediaz209 (@natediaz209) on Feb 21, 2017 at 10:41pm PST
Ferg getting out there.
Hanging Out W/ Jay & Dan @Foxsports #FoxSportsLive • #MediaDay #UFC209 #TonyFergusonMMA #SnapJitsu #20thCenturyFox #JayAndDan #OnTheSet
A post shared by @TonyFergusonxt (@tonyfergusonxt) on Feb 21, 2017 at 4:50pm PST
I asked @dominickcruz to take a picture of me and my favorite-ist (yes I made that word up) training partners of all time, and he decided to get in the mix. Thanks for the push @angieoverkill @alphacatzingano #alliancemma #knuckles #knuckleup #teammudflaps #sparring #selfies
A post shared by Christine “Knuckles” Stanley (@knuckleup125) on Feb 21, 2017 at 12:11pm PST
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
2014: Ronda Rousey earned her first MMA victory not by armbar, stopping Sara McMann with a knee to the body at UFC 170. This event also saw Daniel Cormier make his light heavyweight debut, knocking out Patrick Cummins with punches.
2015: Frank Mir knocked out Antonio Silva in the main event of UFC Fight Night 61.
If we still had polls available I would ask: Would it bother you more to see Bisping fight GSP and Anderson and never face an actual top contender or to have Romero win the belt with some more of his skullduggerous tactics between rounds. But since we don’t have polls for the moment, sound off in the comments.
Anyway, that’s all for today folks. Have a good one and see y’all tomorrow.
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