The Insane Recent History Of The Middleweight Title
By The Way - Weekly Columns
Whatever your thoughts on Anderson Silva now after his latest drug test failure, the UFC Middleweight Championship was box office when The Spider held the gold. For 2,457 days, Silva was the 185 pound champion and looked like an unstoppable force. Not only that, but for years there was stability, both with the title and the picture around it. Not so much anymore. Here’s a quick timeline of the craziness at 185 since Silva was champion. July 2013: UFC 162. A wildly overconfident Silva takes chances against the undefeated Chris Weidman. Fighting with hands down, daring the wrestler to knock him out. Weidman delivers, knocking out Silva as he bobs and weaves with his hands at his side. December 2013: UFC 168. In the heavily anticipated rematch, Silva would take the challenge much more seriously, and a good fight is unfortunately ended in the second round as Weidman checks a leg kick and Silva suffers a gruesome leg break. January 2015: UFC 183. Anderson Silva makes his much anticipated return and defeats Nick Diaz via unanimous decision. It is announced quickly afterward that he’s failed a USADA test for two banned substances. Diaz also fails for marijuana. Silva is suspended for one year. He’d never fight for the title again. Diaz is initially suspended for an insane five years, but it’s reduced to 18 months on appeal. Despite the ban being long over, Diaz hasn’t fought since. December 2015: UFC 194. All is well in the Weidman camp. He remains undefeated and takes out Lyoto Machida and Victor Belfort in his second and third title defences. Luke Rockhold is the opponent on this night and we get a wonderfully competitive fight. In the third round it’s incredibly close, though Weidman is probably edging it, until he throws an uncharacteristic wheel kick out of nowhere. Rockhold takes him down off it and pounds him out for a TKO win. February 2016. UFC Fight Night 84. In an entertaining main event in London, Michael Bisping beats Anderson Silva by unanimous decision in a fight not without controversy. At the end of the third round, Bisping loses his mouth piece and while gesturing to the ref, and is nailed with a flying knee. Silva celebrates what he thinks is a knockout win. The ref says the knee hit moments after the buzzer and gives Bisping the opportunity to fight on. Bisping not only comes back, but clearly wins the fourth round on route to victory. May 2016: With the rematch set for Inglewood, Chris Weidman pulls out injured just two weeks before his title shot. UFC scrambles to find an opponent for Rockhold, and settles for giving Michael Bisping his essentially tenure title shot. June 2016: UFC 199. Michael Bisping knocks out Luke Rockhold in just three minutes in a huge upset to give Britain their first UFC champion. Rockhold came in as a huge favourite, and a little bit overconfident after beating Bisping in their first meeting by guillotine two years prior. August 2016: UFC announce that the UK will host their first pay-per-view in years as UFC 204 will take place at the Manchester Arena. What’s more surprising is Bisping’s opponent in his first title defence is #13 ranked middleweight Dan Henderson. A great redemption story considering Henderson had one of the company’s best knockouts ever at UFC 100 against Bisping, but it’s still a head scratcher. The 46 year old Henderson announces he’ll retire after this fight, win or lose. October 2016: UFC 204. Bisping defeats Dan Henderson via decision, though not without trouble as the Brit is knocked down and almost finished in round 1, and then dominates round 2 before being knocked down again at the end of the round. Henderson keeps his word on retirement. November 2016: UFC 205. In Weidman’s first fight back since losing the title, he looks to cement himself as the clear front runner for a title shot. He is knocked out by a Yoel Romero flying knee in Madison Square Garden. Bisping gestures from the broadcast table as Romero goes to town on him over the microphone. The next middleweight title fight seems set. March 2017: UFC announces that a returning Georges St-Pierre (a career welterweight) will be Bisping’s next challenger. Everyone scratches their head. They hold a press conference before UFC 209 which is a car crash. Bisping turns up late and clearly a few beers in. A disaster of a press conference. April 2017: UFC 210. Chris Weidman loses his third straight fight, this time to Gegard Mousasi. It’s an extremely controversial finish that goes to replay, but it goes down as a TKO win for Mousasi. Three months later, Gegard signs with Bellator. May 2017: Dana White announces the Bisping-GSP fight has been cancelled. Despite holding a press conference for the fight with no fixed date or venue, White announced they were aiming for July for the fight. With Bisping injured and GSP saying he won’t be ready till November, Yoel Romero vs. Robert Whittaker is announced for an interim title. July 2017: UFC 213. Whittaker beats Romero via unanimous decision in a very good fight. Dana White announces GSP versus the winner of Tyron Woodley and Demian Maia for the welterweight title is the new direction. Still July 2017: UFC on Fox 25. Chris Weidman finally wins again, though not after being knocked down by Kelvin Gastelum to close out the first round. Weidman wins by arm triangle submission in round 3. Yes, it’s still July 2017: UFC 214: Woodley beats Maia in a one sided decision to retain the welterweight title. It’s Woodley’s second dreadful fight in a row and Dana goes off at the press conference, suggesting Woodley has disqualified himself with his recent performances and won’t be getting St-Pierre. Bisping vs. GSP is shortly thereafter announced as the new direction. September 2017: UFC Fight Night 116. Luke Rockhold returns for the first time in over a year, and after a pedestrian first round, beats David Branch in round 2. November 2017: UFC 217. Georges St-Pierre chokes out Michael Bisping in round 3 to win the Middleweight Championship. GSP vs. Whittaker to unify the titles is quickly announced for UFC 221 in Perth, Australia. Still November 2017: UFC Fight Night 122: Anderson Silva fails another drugs test and is removed from the main event in Shanghai against Kelvin Gastelum. Michael Bisping steps in on short notice to save the card. He’s promptly finished for the second time in three weeks as Kelvin Gastelum knocks him out in round 1. December 2017: St-Pierre announces he has colitis and won’t be able to fight any time soon. He vacates the championship. Whittaker is promoted from interim champ to undisputed champion, and will defend against Luke Rockhold. January 2018: Whittaker pulls out of UFC 221 after a disastrous run of illnesses and injuries. He tears a hamstring, then gets a staph infection in his stomach. While bedridden from the infection, he gets chicken pox just to kick a man while he’s down. Dana White announces Whittaker will be out for “a considerable time” and books Yoel Romero against Luke Rockhold for the interim title at UFC 221. February 2018: UFC 221. Romero comes in heavy at 187.7 pounds and disqualifies himself from winning the interim title. Only Rockhold can take the belt as the fight goes ahead anyway. Romero knocks out Rockhold in round 3. What’s next? Your guess is as good as mine.
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