The middleweight division is a thin division, thanks to the dominance of current UFC middleweight champion Anderson "The Spider" Silva.
Yes, it still holds names such as Mark Munoz, Hector Lombard, Alan Belcher, Chris Leben, Jake Shields and UFC 152 standouts Michael Bisping and Brian Stann.
But how many fighters are true contenders to the throne?
Tim Boetsch garnered an uninspiring split decision win over Lombard at UFC 149, Leben is suspended for another few months, Shields recently returned to middleweight in "a Jake Shields fight" against Ed Herman and, as stated before, Bisping and Stann do battle at UFC 152.
To the division's credit, it has its share of dark horse contenders and prospects to watch, as does every active men's and women's division in the sport right now. As far as the middleweight division is concerned, however, the 185-lb. weight class is back where it was after Silva's UFC 82 victory over Dan Henderson—meaning that, in no kind words, the division is on its butt and looking for someone to simply challenge Silva's skills and abilities.
Enter Chris Weidman, who knocked Munoz out last month at UFC on Fuel TV 4, openly declared his intentions to challenge for the title and finds himself one victory away from challenging for the belt.
Many believe he's at the point of readiness and that he should get the next crack at Silva's gold.
Those who believe he's ready for Silva are correct in their belief, as he's torn through five tough competitors in his UFC run, and he's kept a 9-0 career run intact, with the only thing close to a career blemish being his performance at UFC on Fox 2 against Demian Maia.
To Weidman's credit, though, the kid took on Maia as a replacement for Bisping when Bisping stepped in to replace Munoz against Chael Sonnen.
Did you get all of that? Good.
Now, while fans are justified in arguing for Weidman's chance at a title, Weidman still has one task to accomplish before he can challenge for the title. As it stands right now, there is still the matter of Belcher, who recently revealed that a spinal fracture would keep him out of UFC 153—though Belcher would've likely fought Belfort with it—and soon after announcing the injury, requested Weidman.
Since we cannot prematurely pencil in the winner of Bisping vs. Stann as a lock to meet Weidman in November, why not hope for the winner of Bisping-Stann to leave Toronto relatively unscathed so as to increase all likelihood of seeing them face Weidman in November, as they'd likely prove the prime choice for a certain title eliminator?
Better yet, why not give Belcher the chance to put his money where his mouth is and face Weidman?
Like Weidman, Belcher is also riding a nice win streak of his own, and Belcher has also been vocal in the past about wanting his own crack at Silva's gold. Is a title eliminator between the two conceivable at this point? Should Boetsch fall under consideration for Weidman's big chance to get to the big dance?
Regardless of whether it's Boetsch, Belcher, Bisping or Stann, one certainty is that if Weidman really wants this shot at Silva's gold, he's going to need to get off of Silva for a moment and get one more win inside the Octagon. If he does not, it could be a long time before Weidman gets himself another chance at this monumental opportunity.
Then again, the hope for MMA fans may appear as though anyone would work, as long as it's clear that there's a challenge on the horizon for Silva.
At the end of the day, all Silva needs is a challenge, but at this point, it doesn't look like anyone will prove as such—unless Weidman can prove everybody wrong just one more time.
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