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UFC 100: Bisping vs. Henderson Sold as No. 1 Contender Fight

Although the UFC rarely labels any fight as one that guarantees the winner a title shot, all indications are that the winner of the UFC 100 fight between Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson will get the next chance to fight UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

The UFC 100 Countdown show that aired Tuesday night referred to Bisping vs. Henderson as "an international grudge match for a shot at the middleweight belt."

I think that if Bisping upsets Henderson, it's pretty much a lock that he gets Silva next. He'd be 18-1 in his MMA career, including 8-1 in the UFC. And, more importantly from the UFC's perspective, it would be huge for the organization's efforts to market MMA in Europe if it could put the British Bisping in a title fight in England. Silva also has some cache in England; before he fought in the UFC he was the middleweight champion of the UK-based Cage Rage promotion, and he went 4-0 fighting in England. Bisping vs. Silva would be by far the biggest MMA fight ever to take place in Great Britain.

However, I'm not sure it's a lock that the UFC would give Henderson the next shot at Silva if Henderson beats Bisping. UFC President Dana White said on Countdown that Bisping just needed to win at UFC 100 in order to get his title shot, but he didn't say the same for Henderson.

"Bisping is at that point in his career right now where he's just about to make that step over the threshold," White said. "He beats Dan Henderson, he's next in line for a shot at Anderson Silva."

Henderson has already lost to Silva once in the UFC, and although he's a good fighter and would at least be able to test Silva, White seems to want to give Silva new opponents who will provide him with new challenges, which is why he's moving Silva up to light heavyweight to fight Forrest Griffin at UFC 101, and why he's openly talking about Affliction fighter Vitor Belfort as a future Silva opponent. Demian Maia would also have a strong claim for a shot at Silva if he beats Nate Marquardt at UFC 102, as would Yushin Okami if he can ever get healthy and win another fight.

So let's put it like this: If Bisping beats Henderson, then Bisping vs. Henderson is for a shot at the title. If Henderson beats Bisping, then the middleweight title picture is still a little muddied.