News broke this afternoon that Chris Weidman has pulled out of his title fight rematch with Luke Rockhold, originally scheduled for UFC 199 on June 4th, 2016.
Candidates to Replace Chris Weidman At UFC 199
The obvious choice to replace Weidman would be Ronaldo Souza, as he emerged unscathed from his bout with Vitor Belfort this past weekend at UFC 198. “Jacaré” was able to get the fight to the mat in the opening round, where he landed vicious ground and pound from half guard before advancing to a high mount and finishing “The Phenom” with heavy punches and elbows from mount. Interestingly, this is exactly how Chris Weidman finished Belfort when they fought last July at UFC 187.
Another choice to replace Weidman would be Michael Bisping. “The Count” was last seen edging “The Spider” in a unanimous decision victory back in February. Bisping holds the record for the most UFC fights without having fought for a title, and at 37 years old, he doesn’t have much time left in the sport. If he’s going to fight for a title, this is his chance.
A third option for the bout would be Derek Brunson, who’s riding a four-fight win streak with last three coming by way of knockout. With a record of 15-3 and age 32 years old, Brunson is in his athletic prime and would pose a dynamic challenge to Luke Rockhold. Brunson has excellent wrestling, but has showcased his speed and power as of late, opting to finish his opponents with punches rather than grinding out a decision.
A fourth option is Thiago Santos, who is also riding a four-fight win streak with three of them by way of knockout. He draws a similar comparison to the aforementioned Brunson: both have outstanding grappling credentials, athletic ability, and fast, powerful striking. Santos’ best weapon is perhaps his left high kick, which he has used to set up several TKO finishes. He has similar experience to Brunson and would pose a similar stylistic matchup to Rockhold.
Any of the four fighters mentioned above would be great candidates for a title shot, and although Santos has faced lesser competition than the other three, he’s a dangerous fighter who matches up well with the champion.
Bisping is in a difficult position since he lost decisively to the incumbent champion nearly two years ago. Despite winning his next three bouts, his victory over Thales Leites was a controversial split decision win, and many pundits thought he lost the fight to Anderson Silva, especially considering he was knocked out at the end of the third round.
If Bisping wants to fight for the title in a rematch against Rockhold, he likely needs a dominant finish in his next fight to separate himself from the pack. The middleweight division is crowded with dangerous contenders and has become increasingly stacked since Weidman unseated Anderson Silva nearly three years ago.
Stay tuned to see what happens next, MMA fans!