Bisping is expected to make the next defense of his belt against one of the four men competing in the UFC's upcoming middleweight mini-tournament, with Chris Weidman and Yoel Romero scheduled to tangle on Nov. 12 and Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo Souza set to rematch on Nov. 27. One of the two winners from those fights will likely receive the next shot at Bisping, and the 37-year-old champion has an idea of who he hopes that name will be.
"Obviously it's got to be one of the big contenders next," Bisping said Monday on The MMA Hour. "We'll see how the chips fall regarding their fights. I think I'd like Weidman, to be honest. If Weidman could get past Romero, that'd be a fight that interests me.
"And seeing that me and Weidman have this rivalry now -- I've got nothing against Weidman. He likes to talk sh*t about my career, and I'll do the same on his, but I wish him all the best. Competition aside, he seems like a good guy and good dude. But we've been talking a lot, so I guess we're going to settle it in the Octagon. So if he gets past Yoel Romero, which he's got his hands full there, but if he does, then yeah, I'll happily fight him next. I believe he's a good match-up for me."
Bisping captured the UFC title earlier this year with a stunning first-round knockout victory over Rockhold at UFC 199, having memorably accepted the fight on just two weeks' notice. He then made the first defense of that title in a controversial rematch against Henderson at UFC 204, a contest which Bisping won with a hard-fought unanimous decision.
The fight against Henderson drew criticism from many competitors within the UFC middleweight division, including from all four of the contenders Bisping could face next. Henderson was ranked outside of the division's top-10 and was expected to retire immediately after the bout, however the match-up was deemed to be the most marketable pairing available for Bisping because of the preexisting storyline between he and Henderson, stemming back to Henderson's iconic knockout over Bisping at UFC 100.
But now that the Henderson chapter of his career is over, Bisping appears to have low hopes for landing another big-money fight until he can get past the next few challengers lining up to fight him.
"Well, business-wise, nobody really cares about Luke Rockhold," Bisping said. "Unfortunately, business-wise, nobody cares about Chris Weidman either, so I don't think either of them really make me that much money, unfortunately. They're probably the best two guys in the division other than me, and nobody gives a sh*t about them. Nobody gives a damn. That's why Chris Weidman couldn't main event a pay-per-view (when he was champion), he was always the co-main event.
"But I'll just take on the best challengers. I know what people said about the Henderson fight, but the UFC came to me with the match. I didn't ask for it, so I said yeah, sure. And now I'm happy to take on whoever the true No. 1 contender is, so we'll see who wins these fights, and whoever it is, I'll happily fight him. I've never ducked a fight in my life."
Bisping didn't have a specific date in mind for his next title defense, targeting either late February or March 2017 for his return. And by then the Brit could have a new challenger waiting for him in the wings, as No. 5 ranked Gegard Mousasi has made waves for himself of late with his outspoken talk and string of victories over Thales Leites, Thiago Santos, and Vitor Belfort.
"Here's the thing, Mousasi is an incredible fighter," Bisping said. "He really is. I like the guy. But I just said that Rockhold and Weidman [would do] terrible business. Jesus Christ, I think it would be astronomically bad business at the moment with Mousasi. He just needs another win or two to really get people's attention. Unfortunately, it wasn't that long ago that the idiot Uriah Hall got a fluke knockout against him, so that kind of hurt his stock. And Mousasi is incredible, he really is. He's one of the best underrated fighters in the world.
"He beat Vitor easily and impressively. I think another big-name opponent, or another one or two in there certainly, he would be more of a household name, then I'd be happy to face him when the time comes. But I think right now he needs another tune-up fight."