Anderson Silva is holding the middleweight division hostage, and Michael Bisping is sick of waiting for his shot at UFC gold.

The longtime middleweight has finally started earning the big wins needed to become a realistic contender to Silva’s title, having defeated big name fighters like Jason “Mayhem” Miller and Brian Stann over the past year, and his loss to Chael Sonnen in between those wins was close enough that many thought Bisping had done enough to pull off the upset.

Now, on the heels of a fine performance in his win against Stann, “The Count” is closer to a UFC title shot than he has ever been in his career, but Silva’s unwillingness to commit to the division he’s ruled over for the past six years is causing Bisping to look for alternate ways to get his hands on some gold.

With Silva presumably looking for a match-up with Georges St-Pierre, it’s uncertain when “The Spider” will decide to step back into the Octagon to defend his belt. If he’s unable or unwilling to defend it by the time the one-year anniversary of his UFC 148 title fight against Sonnen comes around, it makes a lot of sense to create the interim title Bisping has been asking for.

On the surface, it looks like Bisping should get his wish.

The fight between “The Count” and Vitor Belfort at UFC on FX 7 early next year showcases the two most popular middleweights in the division outside of Silva, which makes a possible title fight between the two even more enticing for the UFC to throw together.

However, there’s one potential hitch in Bisping’s plan to get his hands on an interim title, and that hitch is fellow contender Chris Weidman.

There isn’t a hotter prospect in the sport than Weidman at the moment, with the Team Serra-Longo trained fighter riding an impressive undefeated record into title contention, and his big wins over Mark Munoz and Demian Maia have earned Weidman his spot among the elite at 185.

The concept of an interim title makes a ton of sense, but the timing just isn’t right at the moment.

With a true contender like Weidman waiting in the wings for an eventual shot at the belt, it’s impossible for the UFC to seriously consider throwing an interim title on the line for the Bisping-Belfort fight in January, especially if Silva isn’t booked to fight outside of his division yet. As much fun as it sounds to throw two high-profile fighters like Bisping and Belfort into the cage with a title belt on the line, it also makes no sense until the promotion decides to do something with Weidman.

If Silva does decide to take a superfight this year, or even just spend the majority of the year on the sidelines, the UFC will eventually have to create an interim belt in his absence. But until that actually happens, it’s unrealistic to consider throwing an interim belt on a guy like Bisping or Belfort just to let them fight Silva in their next fight.

If an interim belt is made, it needs to be defended at least once before a unification bout with Silva, and unless the promotion gets confirmation that Silva won’t be defending his belt until late 2013 at the earliest, there’s no reason to create another pointless belt.

The best-case scenario for Bisping is that the Silva vs. St-Pierre bout gets booked for May and it opens the door for him to fight Belfort for a belt when the New Year starts. Eventually, the winner would defend that strap against Weidman while waiting for Silva to return to 185, and the division would get a high-profile title fight for what could be Silva’s final title defense in the UFC.

However, that seems unlikely due to the slow moving nature of the potential superfight, and it looks like Bisping, Belfort, Weidman and the rest of the top contenders in the middleweight division will be forced to sit on the sidelines while the champion continues to attempt to strengthen his resume by fighting everyone else.

Photo:  Michael Bisping (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Vince Carey
Staff Writer

Vince Carey has been writing about the sport of mixed martial arts since 2010. Although he is just 21 years old, the Omaha-based writer is looking to provide readers with interesting content on all things related to MMA.