On the UFC’s weekly news show “UFC Tonight” on July 3, TUF3 winner and British Middleweight contender Michael “The Count” Bisping was asked to provide an update on his recovery from surgery to repair his injured knee that forced him out of a UFC 149 bout against Tim Boetsch. Bisping stated that he was able to move around more freely and wanted to get back into the gym as soon as he could with plans to fight by late September hopefully at UFC 152. As for potential opponents in mind Bisping specifically mentioned former WEC Light Heavyweight champion Brian Stann as a more suitable advisory whom a victory over could put him back within reach of a title shot, and also mentioned well rounded veteran Alan Belcher as somebody who had been demanding a bout with him over the last few years. The following day on July 4, Independence Day in the United States, Stann responded to Bisping via Twitter stating he should be able to fight by then as he was recovering from a shoulder injury that forced him out of the main event for UFC On FOX 4 against now former Bellator Middleweight champion Hector Lombard. Stann even hinted at the irony that they were both talking about fighting each other on Independence Day, the irony being that Stann is an American competitor accepting the challenge of a British competitor in Bisping on the anniversary of the United States declaring independence from England. On the following day Belcher also through his name into the mix as his longtime coach Duke Roufus stated over Twitter that Bisping’s challenge was accepted and that UFC matchmaker Joe Silva was called about making the match official.
A longtime competitor in the UFC, Bisping has risen up the ranks in the Middleweight division where he is now considered among the top five ranked fighters with Anderson Silva, Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, and Mark Munoz. Originally entering TUF3 as a Light Heavyweight with a record of 10-0 Bisping has gone 12-4 in his stint with the UFC including his victory to win the tournament. After going 4-0 as a Light Heavyweight in the UFC that included three straight TKO stoppages and a controversial Split Decision over fellow TUF3 alumni Matt Hamill, Bisping suffered his first professional loss to TUF2 winner Rashad Evans by Split Decision. Deciding that competing at Light Heavyweight could put him at a size disadvantage against much of the competition in the weight class, he made the move down to Middleweight where he could fight competition more to his size and whom he could sometimes have the advantage over in size. Opening his career as a Middleweight with three straight victories including two Rnd1 TKOs and a Unanimous Decision over TUF1 alumni Chris Leben, Bisping suffered his second professional loss with a Rnd2 KO delivered by former PrideFC Middleweight/Welterweight champion Dan Henderson whom he coached against for TUF9: Team USA vs Team UK. After rebounding with a Rnd2 TKO over Denis Kang, he would suffer his third professional loss to another former PrideFC Middleweight champion in Wanderlei Silva this time by Unanimous Decision. Rebounding strongly from only his third professional loss Bisping racked up four straight victories with Unanimous Decisions over former IFL Middleweight champion Dan Miller and Japanese star Yoshihiro Akiyama, a Rnd2 TKO over Jorge Rivera, and a Rnd3 TKO over fan favorite Jason Miller. Next set to be part of the UFC On FOX 2 card against former title challenger Demian Maia, he was bumped up to the co-main event against Chael Sonnen for the #1 contendership position after Mark Munoz was forced to withdraw with an injury. Losing via Unanimous Decision in what was a close contest, Bisping left with a victory in mind as he was able to keep the fight standing against a superior wrestler and could have arguably stolen the decision with Rnd1 being close and controlling Rnd2 before being dominated for most of Rnd3. Next set to take on challenger Tim Boetsch at UFC 148, then moved to UFC 149, Bisping suffered a knee injury that forced him to withdraw from the bout and has been on the mend for the last month. Now with a potential shot at the title in range, Bisping hopes to take on a quality opponent with big name status to catapult him to the #1 contender’s position.
A veteran both of the battlefield as a United States Marine and in the cage as a mixed martial artist, former WEC Light Heavyweight champion Brian Stann is a well recognized competitor in the sport, especially within the USA. After going 5-0 with all victories coming by way of Rnd1 (T)KO, Stann won the WEC Light Heavyweight title with his sixth consecutive victory via stoppage with a Rnd1 KO over Doug Marshall. Following the title victory he suffered two back to back losses first losing the title to Steve Cantwell via Rnd2 TKO and a Rnd1 Submission loss to Krzysztof Soszynski in his UFC debut after the WEC was purchased by Zuffa. Rebounding with two straight wins via Unanimous Decision he avenged his loss to Cantwell and controlled Rodney Wallace, but would next suffer his third professional loss this time via Unanimous Decision being dominated on the ground by elite wrestler Phil Davis. Realizing that he was at a disadvantage taking on bigger and stronger grapplers in the division, Stann also decided to make the move to Middleweight where he has found success going 4-1 in the division. Rebound from his loss to Davis he racked up three straight victories via stoppage first debuting in the weight class with a Rnd3 Submission over Mike Massenzio, a quick Rnd1 TKO over TUF1 alumni Chris Leben, and a Rnd2 KO over former Sengoku Middleweight champion Jorge Santiago. With three straight wins via stoppage Stann was the one fighter to step up to take on returning Middleweight contender Chael Sonnen, and would have his win streak snapped as he suffered a Rnd2 Submission being dominated for much of the fight on the ground by the superior wrestler, but proved his ground game was improving stuffing a few takedown attempts and able to get back to his feet at times. Looking to rebound from the loss to Sonnen he was next slated to take on Alessio Sakara for the promotion’s long awaited debut in Sweden, and rebounded in impressive fashion besting the former pro-boxer in the stand-up knocking him down and finishing him with a single strike from within his guard on the ground in Rnd1. With an impressive stoppage victory to rebound from his only loss in the division, Stann looks to get back on track for a shot at the title as he stands in the ranks among the top ten. Campaigning for a fight with Bisping for some time now for the promotional aspects behind it and for a challenge, Stann may finally gets his wish with Bisping personally requesting the match-up.
A longtime veteran of the UFC, Alan Belcher has proven himself to be one of the most entertaining competitors in the Middleweight division. Entering the UFC in 2006 with a record of 9-2 with only two of his previous bouts going to decision, Belcher unfortunately was unsuccessful in his debut suffering a Unanimous Decision loss to eventual title challenger Yushin Okami. Rebounding from the loss he earned a Rnd3 KO over Jorge Santiago, but suffered a Rnd2 Submission loss to TUF3 winner Kendall Grove. Rebounding again from a loss Belcher earned two straight stoppage victories with a Rnd1 Submission over Sean Salmon and a Rnd2 TKO over Kalib Starnes, but suffered another loss this time via Rnd1 TKO to Jason Day. Rebounding from his third UFC loss he racked up two more wins with a Split Decision over Ed Herman and a Rnd2 Submission over Denis Kang. Next slated to welcome Japanese star Yoshihiro Akiyama to the UFC at UFC 100, Belcher and Akiyama put on a show as they exchanged repeatedly with Akiyama taking the Split Decision win in what was a close fight. Now rebounding from his fourth UFC loss he racked up two straight stoppage victories with a Rnd1 TKO over Wilson Gouveia and a Rnd2 Submission over former title challenger Patrick Cote. Preparing next to take on former title challenger Demian Maia in what was to be the main event for UFC Fight Night 22 Belcher was forced to withdraw needing to undergo emergency eye surgery. Staying out of action for sixteen months Belcher finally returned to the octagon against Jason MacDonald where he earned the Rnd1 Submission victory with MacDonald tapping out to strikes. Returning eight months later he stepped up to take on dangerous leg-lock specialist Rousimar Palhares, an opponent whom many competitors had intentionally avoided. The second of four bouts on the UFC On FOX 3 card, their bout had a tough act to follow after the entertaining fight between Lavar Johnson and Pat Barry that ended with a Rnd1 TKO. Entering the bout against Palhares as the heavy underdog known mainly as a kickboxer, Belcher was not expected to make it past the first round. After 45 seconds of stand-up, Palhares shot hard for a takedown and Belcher willingly allowed the fight to play out on the ground. After minutes of Palhares attempting repeated leg-locks and Belcher showing surprising defense and resilience, the fight turned as Palhares laid on his back with Belcher surprisingly willing to stay in his guard. After landing powerful shots from within the guard Belcher let loose with brutal ground-&-pound with the referee calling a stop to the bout with Palhares not defending himself thus awarding Belcher the Rnd1 TKO and major upset victory. Following the bout Belcher stated he wanted to next face an opponent in the mix for the title, and again mentioned Bisping’s name specifically having been campaigning for years to have a match with him. Should Joe Silva finally award Belcher his long desired wish, we could see this turn into a grudge match leading up to the eventual bout.