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Fightweets: Who should get the shot at Michael Bisping's title?

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Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

With Bellator 157 in our rear-view mirror, the countdown's on to UFC 200. So let's jump right into a new edition of Fightweets, in which we look at three fighters involved in UFC 100 who are angling for a big-money bout.

Who should get the next middleweight title shot?

@343GuiItySpark: Do you think people want to watch Hendo/Bisping or GSP/Bisping?

The funny thing about this scrum to get the next shot at Michael Bisping's UFC middleweight title is that fighters jockeying to meet Bisping isn't exactly a new development. Long before he was champion, middleweights looking to get into the limelight knew that a meeting with the mouthy Brit was the fastest way to do so.

Now that Bisping's the champion, of course, it's turned into a gold rush. Fighters believe Bisping's championship is a result of a lucky punch. If you're Dan Henderson, you've gone from a probable retirement to an unexpected scenario in which you could go after the one major goal which always eluded you. If you're Georges St-Pierre, you see the chance to return and join the short list of two-weight-class UFC champions. If you're everyone from Luke Rockhold to Tim Kennedy, you see a chance to get another fight against someone you already beat.

Would it be fair to the real contenders at middleweight if Hendo or GSP jumped the line and got the shot at Bisping? No, but we've got a well-established pattern of the UFC going with the biggest fights at this point, divisional schemes be damned. In the world in which we live as opposed to the ideal world, what's going to draw a bigger buy rate: 1. Hendo going after the gold as Bisping tries to avenge one of the most infamous knockouts in UFC history; 2. GSP going after a second title in his first fight in three years; or 3. Bisping vs. Rockhold/Weidman/Jacare/etc.?  The answer sure isn't No. 3.

As for my preference? I can't hide it: For every reason I understand why Bisping-Hendo 2 is wrong at this stage of the game, sometimes things are so wrong, they're right. Maybe I'm biased because I was cageside the night Randy Couture beat Tim Sylvia for the UFC heavyweight title and I never thought we'd see a similar circumstance again, but Weidman's still hurt, GSP's return will be big no matter who he fights, Rockhold will get his shot eventually, and Jacare, at the end of the day, is on a one-fight win streak. Bisping-Hendo 2 is a fight I can live with.

Bellator 157

@Denni_Dee: Do you think Matt Mitrione should be cleared to fight? It seems like he was almost out in that fight.

It was not a good look for Bellator in the wake of Matt Mitrione's comeback win over Carl Seumanutafa. Sure, the fight was exciting enough, with Mitrione nearly getting knocked out before scoring a one-punch KO of his own. But Mitrione sure didn't sound right in his post-fight interview with Jimmy Smith, as he not only didn't recall being punched, or being on the mat, but he actually had to ask Smith what happened. Then Bellator announced Mitrione will fight Oli Thompson in London in three weeks.

At the post-fight press conference, Bellator CEO Scott Coker says if Mitrione doesn't get medical clearance, they'll honor a commission suspension. Mitrione, for his part, says he's fine. Fighters always want to fight, so let's hope Bellator lives up to their promise if there's even a hint Mitrione shouldn't compete next month.

As for the rest of Bellator 157, there was one shining moment: Michael Chandler's tremendous knockout win over Patricky Freire to reclaim the lightweight title. Beyond that, mixing MMA and kickboxing, once again, made for a tedious, slow-moving evening. Time to pull the plug on that idea.

Potential UFC sale

@dpop2: I'm nervous about this sale, ppl have underestimated how much Dana and Lorenzo mean to not just the UFC but the sport. Thoughts?

For all the criticism they've taken over the years, there's no doubt the team of the Fertitta brothers and Dana White built the UFC through sheer passion for and belief in their product. Zuffa was at one point $44 million in the hole before The Ultimate Fighter broke through and the company soared. In our current business environment, in which one bad quarter can spell doom for a company, it's highly likely a big, distant corporation without a personal love for the product would have pulled the plug on the UFC before it broke through.

But that's only part of the story. There's a graveyard full of promotions that attest to MMA not being an easy business to get right. From Gary Shaw to Affliction to the IFL and on down the line, a lot of people thought there was a fast buck to be made and instead chased good money after bad until they closed up shop.

If the UFC does in fact end up sold, would new management, having sunk a reported $4 billion into their purchase, keep from panicking at the next inevitable downturn in what will always be a cyclical business? Would they be smart enough to keep some of the key, knowledgeable people in crucial positions behind the scenes -- first and foremost matchmakers Joe Silva and Sean Shelby -- happy? Will they understand where not to meddle in the product, or will distant consultants who don't know a Kimura from a guillotine dictate questionable changes? These are the big what-ifs that make a potential sale interesting, in which could end up with people in the industry wishing they stuck with the devil they knew.

Mo' money, mo' problems

@kopxpert: What are your thoughts on Dana's comments on Cowboy's pay and his decision to award Jojo a bonus + new contract

I touched upon this in a column I wrote for Yahoo Sports, which said we should probably get used to money being a frequent topic of post-fight press conferences in the era of free agency, but to condense it: First off, calling Donald Cerrone "inconsistent" is silly. That was a tag which had some validity several years ago. But MMA's favorite Cowboy has won 11 of 12, over two weight classes, has stepped in on short notice more than once along the way, and probably would have fought even more frequently if the UFC had let him. Whether Cerrone can move the needle to a Conor McGregor/Ronda Rousey level is an entirely different question, but calling him inconsistent was the worst possible point of attack.

As for Joanne Calderwood, good on the UFC for doing right by her once they realized the extent of her situation. She probably should have gotten bonused for her win over Valerie Letourneau in the first place and she shouldn't be laboring on a minimum contract. I'm not going to flog UFC brass for going the wrong way the first time since they were willing to make it right once they realized what was up.

One suspects, though, this isn't the last time White and Co. will have to put out post-fight, money-related brush fires.

Early weigh-ins

@kopxpert: For UFC events with morning weigh-ins, can fighters opt to weigh-in for real at the official show in the afternoon?

No. Under the rules used by the California State Athletic Commission for UFC 199, fighters had a two-hour window starting at 10 a.m. the day before the fights to weigh-in. They could go any time during that window, but once they weighed in, that was their official attempt. The regular weigh-ins done in front of the public at 4 p.m, then, was basically done to satisfy television contracts and sponsors, even if it came off a bit silly.

UFC 199, of course, turned out to be one of the best, top-to-bottom action cards the company's ever put on. The fighters were almost unanimously happy with the earlier weigh-ins and not having to stay dehydrated all day. While one card isn't enough of a sample size to declare the weigh-ins the root cause of an all-action event, it's certainly an encouraging start, and enough to make other influential commissions take notice.

When all's said and done, my gut feeling is we'll look back on the way weigh-ins were conducted for so long and wonder why it ever took so long to change.

How much does Silva have left?

@BreadandWater94: What kinda run does Anderson Silva have left in him? He's still good but can he get back to his former greatness?

There's just no getting around the fact the Spider is 41 years old. His fight with Michael Bisping proved he's still capable of being involved in exciting fights, but even the 2016, championship version of Bisping is someone Silva would have torn through during his prime. Silva also has many fights left on his big contract, so one way or another we're going to see just how much he has left in the tank.

(Two notes: 1. My bike ride from Los Angeles to San Diego to raise money for Hire Heroes USA last weekend went off without a hitch. The $5,465 raised for Hire Heroes included several contributions from Fightweets readers, so allow me to thank you for your help. 2. I've finally got a professional Facebook page up and running. Help me get this thing off the ground. Thanks!)