The main card for the UFC on Fox 2 has been shuffled.
While the Main Event is still on between former light heavyweight champion “Suga” Rashad Evans (16-1-1) and undefeated wrestler “Mr. Wonderful” Phil Davis (9-0), the winner earning a future show at light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, the rest of the UFC on Fox 2 main card has gone through major changes during the last 48-hours.
Co-main eventer Mark Munoz (12-2) has pulled out of his fight with Chael Sonnen (26-10-1) due to an elbow injury and in his place steps Michael Bisping (22-3), who originally was fighting Demian Maia (15-3) as the first on the network broadcast.
What it means? Bisping and Sonnen now fight to determine who gets the next crack at UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson “Spider” Silva, and it comes premature.
I will not argue that both Sonnen and Bisping are two of the most popular and captivating fighters in MMA. Sonnen has gained his popularity both in and outside the Octagon. He is the most outspoken and controversial fighter in the UFC, consistently voicing his opinion on his colleagues, his sport and America.
Brilliantly, he gained so much attention in the buildup for his fight against Anderson Silva at UFC 117 that despite a 5th round submission loss, he was the only fighter fans wanted to see challenge Silva again.
Yes, Sonnen also gains that position because he dominated Silva for 14 and a half minutes that faithful night in August, only to succumb to a rear naked choke and arm triangle submission.
So, It made sense that after Sonnen was victorious over the dangerous Brian Stann at UFC 136, he would be put in place to challenge or (in next Saturday’s case) earn the right to challenge Silva yet again.
Instead of Munoz, who had won four fights in a row and seven of his last eight, he gets Bisping who has built up his own unique resume.
A former Ultimate Fighter winner, the brash and always outspoken Bisping has gained his popularity (or hatred) due to two other stints as a coach on the Ultimate Fighter, plus his harsh words for Jorge Rivera in the buildup to their fight at UFC 127.
Bisping also has talent in the cage. He has won four fights in a row, five of his last six and the three losses in his career are all to future UFC Hall of Famers; Evans, Wanderlei Silva and Dan Henderson.
The issue of the upcoming Sonnen-Bisping fight is not why? There is clear indication why these two are now on a collision course to meet next Saturday night. The issue is that because of the last minute shuffling, this is a fight that normally would headline a Pay Per View, but instead is forced to be put together last minute with little or no promotion behind it.
How significant is this fight? For starters, Sonnen-Bisping had been long rumored to be starring opposite each other on an upcoming season of the Ultimate Fighter. The two are two of the best trash talkers in the sport and the ratings for that reality series would have been through the roof.
The other is the future of the middleweight division. The currently champion Silva has shattered UFC records, winning all 14 of his UFC fights and successfully defending his middleweight title nine times in a row.
Out till June, “The Spider” is planning to defend his title next in June in Sao Paulo, Brazil at a soccer stadium that could shatter MMA attendance records. The thought is that by pitting Sonnen or Munoz vs Silva in Sao Paulo, the fight would do unbelievable because of the history Silva has with both fighters; he hates Sonnen and used to train with Munoz.
Then there is Bisping, who originally was fighting Maia (and without an upset) would have built a 5-fight win streak and could have been the headliner for one of the UFC’s ultimate goals, a live outdoor fight at Wembley Stadium.
Now the UFC loses one of their two top contenders in the sport.
They lose the “hype machine” that would have accompanied a Sonnen-Bisping fight with an 8-week buildup.
And they lose both Sonnen and Bisping being who they are. Both have been silent and respectful leading up to this fight.
It’s too bad. I had Bisping fighting for the title in November. Now, it looks like back to the drawing board because I’m favoring Sonnen to win this fight and win it handily.
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