While there's been speculation top contender Ronaldo Souza would be likeliest candidate to get the next UFC middleweight title shot, the opportunity would actually go a fighter outside of the top ten.
While the UFC has made no formal announcement, UFC President Dana White stated last week Michael Bisping is likely to fight Dan Henderson next. The bout would serve as a rematch from UFC 100, when Henderson knocked Bisping out in the second round of their meeting as coaches from season 9 of The Ultimate Fighter.
In an interview last week on SiriusXM's The Luke Thomas Show, Bisping confirmed his fight with Henderson, added additional details about the planning, time and location of the event plus fired back at criticisms of the fight.
Partial audio and transcript below:
Can you confirm your next fight is a title defense against Dan Henderson?
Yes, I can confirm. My next fight, I believe, will be be in Manchester in October against Dan Henderson, who used to be 'Decision' Dan Henderson until he discovered testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) and then he became 'Knockout' Dan Henderson and knocks me out.
He was on testosterone replacement therapy, as I said, at the time. I had no idea and here we are, seven years later and he's still competing in the UFC when TRT was banned. The guy's an absolute hypocrite. He was manipulating the system. He was cheating. Call it what you will. I'm very happy. I get to get my revenge on even playing field.
So that's the motivation for you? This is a chance to undo what happened at UFC 100?
Yeah, absolutely. At 100, like I said, I lost in good style. Well done to him, but there were circumstances I wasn't aware of at the time. The TRT. Since then, that's bothered me. The fact that he's still fighting now kind of confirms the fights that he was manipulating the system or cheating.
That always bothers me. Listen, I know there's other people that maybe or definitely are ahead of him in terms of rankings, but Dan Henderson is almost done. He said he's only going to fight one more time. Those are the guys that are going nowhere. October is just around the corner. I believe it's thirteen weeks until the fight. So, I'll go out, I'll beat Dan Henderson, I'll pay him back for what happened in 2009 after cheating. Whoever's next in line, they'll still be there and we can go at it. No problem.
Is it true you might be fighting at Old Trafford?
I have no idea of that yet. Not to my knowledge, not to my knowledge. That would be absolutely amazing, but as I said, to my knowledge, no.
Do you have a preference on venue? In other words, if it doesn't happen in Manchester, would it happen in another city in England?
MB: What I'm lead to believe - and again, I can't confirm this - is that the fight will be happening in the UK. It will be a pay-per-view event and we will be doing it around 4 o'clock in the morning to cater to the U.S. audience.
Ricky Hatton fought a boxer called Kostya Tszyu back in the day and that was at the Manchester Evening News Arena. I think it was the same idea then. They did it for the American audience. The Manchester people, they don't mind staying up late and drinking plenty of booze.
The arena was sold out. It was a great atmosphere. I think we're going to do something similar in Manchester for the fight against Henderson. As I said, it will be a pay-per-view and I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be crazy.
Let me tell you why I don't like this fight. It will likely be exciting, but it undercuts the purpose of having rankings.
Well, I hear your point, but still, as I said, this is the fight that's happening. It doesn't always go one against two or two against three. It doesn't always work like that. There is rankings. They're in place for a reason, but they give you a clear guideline of how you doing, but sometimes the fans want to see [something else].
There was a crazy outpouring of support for this fight. The UFC teased it. Joe Rogan teased it. Out there, social media is a powerful thing and the social media response is absolutely overwhelming. The UFC have always been known for giving the fans the fights they want to see. This seems to be a fight that the fans want to see.
Who am I to say no to the loyal fans of the UFC and who am I to not punch Dan Henderson in the face? That's something that's bothered me for a long time. But listen, this is the fight the majority of people want to see. Of course, there's Brazilians hassling me on a daily basis like Jacare. There's people from New York whining about Chris Weidman, but unfortunately, they need to get over themselves. Rockhold can go and fight Weidman, Jacare can fight someone else in the interim. If they're that good, they'll win and they'll see me down the line. Don't worry about it.
What do you think is next for Rockhold and Weidman? Do you think they'll rematch at UFC 205 in November?
They should do. They were scheduled to fight in June. Obviously, Weidman got hurt. They should reschedule and fight each other and then the winner of that can maybe fight for the title.
As of right now, they're both coming off of losses, so why not redo the original matchup and let the winner move on to bigger things?
Let's assume you win Manchester. Are you after that committed to fighting the top contender?
I am committed to fighting everybody. I've never denied anybody or turned down a fight in my life. The fact of the matter is the UFC came to me with this fight and it got me excited. They came to me with this fight and I was like, 'Yeah, you know what? That sounds like fun. I'm in.'
If they'd have came to me with me Weidman, I'd have say, 'Yeah, that sounds like fun. I'm in'. If they came to me with Jacare, I'd have said the same thing or a Rockhold rematch, I'd have said the same thing. But the fact is they came, they put that idea in my mind and ever since they said that, that's who I am fighting in my head. It's as simple as that. I'm sold to the idea, I'm going to beat Henderson up and then we'll go from there.
What do you make of Henderson's power since getting off TRT?
Yeah, well, Dan Henderson is still a formidable force. He is who he is. He's had a great career, but you can't deny, he's slowed down a little bit. His knockout power is still there. We saw him knockout [Hector] Lombard, but he's lost to a few as well. His knockout power is still there. Obviously he's going to try to land that H-Bomb on me in October. Good luck doing that. I'm not going to walk into that one.
Listen, he's still a formidable opponent, though. He knocked out Tim Boetsch, he knocked out Lombard just recently. The guy can still pack a punch.
Make no mistake: in October, everybody can tune in to see America's no. 1 bad boy getting knocked the f--k out. Make no mistake about that.