On Saturday night, Yoel Romero went upside former champion Chris Weidman's head with a devastating flying knee and staked his claim as the No. 1 contender for UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping's belt. Romero then called out Bisping - who was at the event doing coverage - in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. Bisping responded later that evening on Fox Sports 1 and the two have since exchanged a few barbs over social media.
Well it appears that was only the beginning as the two will almost definitely be fighting each other. On his SiriusXM Rush radio show The Countdown on Thursday, Bisping announced that plans are in the works for him versus Romero for sometime next year.
"So a couple of days ago Dana calls me up... and he's like ‘Mike, January 20. Anaheim. You vs. Yoel Romero.' I said well to be honest Dana I've been getting injections on my knee. Now I'm not saying no to Yoel because believe it or not, after beating Weidman like that, yeah I do fancy it."
"I was hoping Weidman would win. I always wanted to fight Weidman, more out of respect really. Even though we've went back and forth and talked sh-t, I've never really had too much against him. It was more kind of a comedy thing from where I was concerned. But I did want to fight him. That said, Yoel beat him and fair enough I guess. In the fight before, even though he tested positive, he beat Jacare, he beat Weidman, and he beat of bunch of no marks before that. So I guess that would be the fight."
A few weeks ago, Bisping made some efforts to organize a fight with Georges St-Pierre or Nick Diaz at UFC 206 but when those didn't come to fruition he decided to step back and enjoy some time off after a fairly active 2016. Now he says he isn't looking to get back in the cage until spring of 2017 and so that is when he'll fight Romero.
"Listen, I've had three fights this year. It was only four weeks ago I had a war with Dan Henderson. I want to enjoy Christmas with my family. So January 20 ain't going to happen. I'm not physically or mentally ready to jump into a training camp right now.
"That fight, that date is nine weeks away. I'd have to start training next week and I'd have to be in training camp all the way through Christmas. My family is coming out for Christmas. I'm planning on having some downtime. I think I've earned that. I've got a couple injuries I need to heal up. They said, 'okay, so what time are we looking at?' and I said, 'sometime this spring. Some time this spring, 100%. Book the fight.' He goes, 'Okay cool. Let me have a look at the calendar, see what dates are available, see what locations, I'll get in touch and we'll figure something out.
"So it's looking like that will be the next fight, unless something else transpires in some other situation. But it's like looking me vs. Yoel sometime in the spring."
Before UFC 205, Bisping was adamant that he wouldn't fight Romero even if he won. But just because that stance has obviously changed, doesn't mean he's changed his opinion about Romero as an athlete. Though he credited Romero for a good performance at UFC 205, the middleweight champion doubled down on his claims that Romero is a steroid abuser and says he wants extremely strict drug testing for when they fight.
"All credit to Romero, all credit. He timed it nicely and he landed a good flying knee. I don't plan on headbutting Yoel Romero's knee. So therefore that won't work. And as I said, he's 5' 2" so he won't be able to jump up and flying knee me in the face - well, depending on how many steroids he's taken that year. Because let's not forget, he did just come back from serving a steroid suspension. And he can say whatever he wants but listen, that guy is on steroids. We all know it. It's as simple as that. But will I fight him? God d*mn f*cking right I'll fight him...
"I've fought a lot of cheaters of the years and my stance on that stuff is strong as you know, but if that's the fight that's gonna go down - I don't want people to be like, 'he's just ducking Romero. He's ducking Romero' because that's not the case at all. I'm not ducking Romero so f*ck it. If that's the circumstances, that's the circumstances. But I want very, very stringent testing throughout camp. I want him to be tested pretty much every week on a random day."
His legacy may be the biggest reason Bisping is now interested in fighting Romero. Bisping's title defense against Dan Henderson at UFC 204 created a lot of controversy in the MMA bubble as many people claimed he was scared of facing a true contender and used it to tear down Bisping's accomplishments. Those flames were fanned higher as Bisping sought big money fights against Diaz and St-Pierre (big draws but career welterweights) but was uninterested in a challenge by Jacare for UFC 206. A win over Romero would almost certainly silence all his critics.
"If I go out there and beat Yoel Romero then you can't deny any of my achievements. There are some assholes still out there who say, 'he got lucky against Rockhold and he picked on an old guy against Henderson.' I want to fight the No. 1 contender. I want to."
Vince. Conor McGregor has inspired a lot of people with his "Billionaire strut."
Retired. At UFC 205, Miesha Tate told her corner "I don't care enough."
Angry. Angela Hill is "pissed" she's not fighting Alexa Grasso.
Upset. Albert Morales predicts a second round KO of Thomas Almeida.
450K on FightPass. Nicole Laporte delves into to the guys behind WME-IMG, Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell.
His McGregor is damn good.
Good bye New York and thank you. Another chapter written in my storied career. God bless. pic.twitter.com/doTnbt5qbN— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) November 18, 2016
UFC been very good to me this not a threat. I got into this sport for the belt nothing personal https://t.co/1WtGRGAU6o— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) November 17, 2016
Fun training pic.twitter.com/N24wnRvPoB— Sage Northcutt (@sagenorthcutt) November 17, 2016
@Cowboycerrone you took my fat prom date from me. I want you after I handle business— Jorge Masvidal UFC (@GamebredFighter) November 17, 2016
Obviously hasn't spent a lot of time in America.
https://t.co/OMlaLxPxaQ everyone can have their own opinion but you can't have your own facts.— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) November 17, 2016
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
2006: Georges St-Pierre became the UFC welterweight champion for the first time, knocking out Matt Hughes in their rematch at UFC 65. the main event that evening was supposed to be a superfight between UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell and Pride middleweight champion Wanderlei Silva but it did not materialize. In the co-main event, Tim Sylvia successfully defended his UFC heavyweight championship by winning a unanimous decision over Jeff Monson.
2009: Jose Aldo knocked out Mike Thomas Brown to win the WEC featherweight championship at WEC 44, beginning the greatest featherweight title reign in MMA history.
2011: Ronda Rousey competed above 135 lbs. for the final time, submitting Julia Budd with an armbar at Strikeforce Challengers: Britt vs. Sayers. The win set Rousey up for a title shot against Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion Miesha Tate.
My thoughts align with Luke's on this one: Romero went through Olympic testing and got bogus popped once by USADA. Dude is clean, he's just a once in a generation level athlete.
Big fight weekend y'all. Stay frosty out there and see you Monday.
If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, just hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting because we post dope things and you should enjoy them.