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Bisping makes compelling argument for interim title

ESPN staff
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Michael Bisping beat Brian Stann in his last outing © Getty Images
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Michael Bisping has expressed sympathy for Chris Weidman over the American's fresh shoulder injury, and made a serious case for why his fight with Vitor Belfort should be for the interim UFC middleweight title.

Weidman was ruled out of UFC 155 on Wednesday by a shoulder problem that will require surgery. It leaves the 185-pounder looking at a three-to-six-month absence.

"The news that Chris Weidman is out for six months has really put a downer on the entire middleweight division," Bisping wrote on Bisping.tv. "I feel really bad for him, especially as he's already had a massively crappy month with Hurricane Sandy destroying his house.

"I bet he was really looking forward to a payday, and it's always bad when an athlete is kept from making a living due to injuries. Never really met the guy, but of course I hope he makes a fast recovery."

Weidman's absence leaves Bisping as the clear No. 1 contender in the middleweight division, if he can beat Belfort on January 19.

However, even if he wins that fight the Brit may have a long wait for a title shot as the UFC attempts to match middleweight champion Anderson Silva with welterweight king Georges St-Pierre. In Bisping's eyes, the most sensible option is to keep the division alive.

"Myself and Weidman are the No. 1 and No. 2 contenders to Anderson Silva's middleweight title. And, yep, in that damn order! But Weidman is now out for up to six months and Anderson won't be fighting until May - and even then it looks like it won't be a middleweight title defence.

"Anderson could win and then fight Jon Jones at light-heavyweight in September and go the entire year - 18 months and more - since defending the middleweight belt. Or GSP could win or Anderson get hurt… the fight could even be moved to mid-summer for venue reasons… a million things could happen even when we get to May.

"You know where I'm going with this… me vs Vitor Belfort in Brazil in January should be for the interim middleweight title.

"I think almost all the fans would agree that the middleweight division is hotter than it has ever been right now. I'm at the top of my game, you had Weidman getting some serious momentum, Alan Belcher - when he is healthy - is as good as anyone at 185lbs in spite of that abomination on his arm, Cung Le has just KO'd the former champion Rich Franklin in one round.

"Tim Boetsch is there, Mark Munoz, Brian Stann, Chris Leben and the poison dwarf [Hector] Lombard are all in the mix and then you've got Vitor Belfort who is back at his real weight class after almost snapping Jon Jones's arm in half on two weeks' notice.

"On top of that it looks like the Strikeforce guys are coming in shortly, too. As it stands, the middleweight division's champion has no plans whatsoever to defend his belt until at least the end of next summer.

"With Weidman out, I think me vs Vitor is a worthy interim title fight. Way more worthy than Urijah Favour's 2,354,987th title shot and I would defend my interim title against all-comers and keep the division moving. And I think I can speak for Vitor, too, because if he kicks my arse in January, he will defend the belt too."

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