Opening Round: The Brit is Coming

There’s a reason the UFC hasn’t announced middleweight champion Anderson Silva’s next opponent yet, as well as a reason why rumors of a bout between Chael Sonnen and Mark Munoz keep springing up. While some will tell you each situation has to do with Silva’s bum shoulder, I tend to believe the common factor involved in both is related to something much different.

This weekend Michael Bisping fights Jason Miller at the Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Finale, a bout I think the UFC brass will be paying close attention to where top contendership is concerned. “Mayhem” certainly isn’t in the picture based on it essentially being his organizational debut, not to mention his lack of big wins over the past few years. However, Bisping is a completely different story, and if he’s able to put on a solid showing against Miller or even finish him there’s a very good chance he could end up with a crack at Silva’s strap (and rightfully so).

Beating Miller would mark the fourth straight win for Bisping against a respected, well-known opponent with Jorge Rivera, Dan Miller, and Yoshihiro Akiyama making up the other three. Comparably, Sonnen has only fought a single time since being submitted by Silva and earned his original shot at the Brazilian’s belt with less consecutive victories strung together than Bisping would have to his credit.

Also worth pointing out, Bisping has only been stopped a single time in twenty-four total fights while ten of Sonnen’s eleven career losses involved some form of finish. He’s been tapped out a quartet of times in eleven Octagon appearances while Bisping’s only evening-ending sequence came in notable fashion against Dan Henderson.

The Henderson result is something to consider as well even outside of the performance-based factors pointing at Bisping as the logical challenger to Silva, not Sonnen. To this day people still talk about the ground-shaking strike “Hendo” laid the Brit out with. While a good deal of the remaining buzz has to do with the brutal nature of the blow, another component maintaining fans’ interest is their enjoyment of seeing Bisping knocked out cold. The Ultimate Fighter 3 winner is one of the UFC’s most polarizing athletes and, point blank, someone whose ass getting kicked is an appealing thought in the mind of many of person. And, without question, he’ll stand and exchange with Silva providing a far more promising prospect than Sonnen laying in Silva’s guard for as long as possible in hopes of drawing a decision out of the judges.

Sonnen’s a great talker – he’s just not the right person to pick in the Silva sweepstakes assuming Bisping gets by Miller, something far easier said than done. “The Count” deserves his opportunity for a number of reasons while the main driving forces behind Sonnen’s contendership is his tale of “almost” at UFC 117 and self-promotional hype, two things failing to compare against the reality backing Bisping’s cause.

What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!

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