Michael Bisping has become the latest in a long line of people to criticise the continuing trend of UFC champions and fighters seeking out ‘super fights’ rather than putting the value of the title first. It is something we have seen almost constantly in recent years, as the prestige of holding a UFC title seems to have taken a back seat, becoming just a stepping stone on the way to making the big bucks.
Bisping would address the issue on an episode of his ‘Believe You Me’ podcast. “I want to see the champions defending the belts. All of this jumping around… I think last year and the year before, it all got a little silly.”
“I feel like the UFC aren’t going to be too quick to make those super fights anymore. Whilst they do capture the imagination of the public, [UFC is] just stripping Henry Cejudo of the 125 [title]. The only real double-champ that’s left now is Amanda Nunes, and even her, she’s having trouble finding challenges at 145. I feel the only reason she hasn’t been stripped yet is there isn’t anyone at ’45 to take her place.”
We can only hope that the former UFC champion turned commentator is on the right track with his views, throughout 2019 we saw a frankly ludicrous number of ‘super fights’, with champions facing off against champions and fighters seeming to stop caring about the division title and going after fictional belts instead. After only seeing one simultaneous two division champion in the history of the organisation (crowned in 2018), the UFC would go on to see a further three ‘champ champs’ throughout 2019.
However while most fans will agree with Bisping’s comments, longing for a return to fighters taking pride in defending their title rather than using it as a stepping stone, it does seem incredibly ironic and hypocritical coming directly from the Englishman himself.
After defeating Luke Rockhold in a shock KO for the middleweight title, Bisping would duck and dodge legitimate contenders in the division. Rather than facing off against Robert Whittaker or Yoel Romero, Bisping would opt to push for a fight against former rival Dan Henderson (who was not even ranked within the top 10 fighters in the division at the time), before chasing a fight with Georges St-Pierre.
It’s safe to say that Bisping made the most of his time as champion, jumping on the back of the ‘super fight’ trend (which was just beginning at the time). Has he changed his tune because he has cashed out, gotten what he wanted from these fights and is now having to sit back and watch it unfold just like the rest of us? It certainly seems that way from here.