When the rumors of a Michael Bisping vs. Dan Henderson rematch first started circulating, many people in the MMA community were confused by the selection for "The Count's" first title defense. Why would he go up against someone outside the Top 10? There had to be someone more deserving of a title shot, right?
Well, Bisping doesn't think so.
Champions.co sat down with the UFC Middleweight Champion to talk about his upcoming fight at UFC 204. While the champ has heard the criticism, he doesn't think it is fair. Nobody in his mind has earned the title shot.
"Nobody deserves it right now. Chris Weidman doesn't deserve it. Luke Rockhold doesn't deserve it. They are both coming off losses. Yoel Romero certainly doesn't deserve it because he just came back from a suspension for steroids. How do you reward a guy that comes back for steroids?"
Bisping did not leave himself out, though. He admits that when he got his chance at the title at UFC 199, he was undeserving of it.
"No one f**king deserves it. Did I deserve it? No. I have been out there for years slugging away. Did I deserve it? Did I have a feeling of entitlement saying 'I deserve this title shot?' No, you have to go out there and take it. You have to make it happen. No one deserves it. Quit being a f**king p***y, win some fights and shut the f**k up."
The fact that the champion does not believe in a hierarchy of the sport really opens up the division. While the fights between Weidman and Romero as well as Rockhold and Jacare Souza may determine the next title contender for some people, Bisping is open to other possibilities.
"The landscape is ever changing. Derek Brunson just did very well over the weekend. He is on a five-fight win streak. So, there are many worthy contenders out there."
Though Bisping does not want to be cocky, he is confident that he will win at UFC 204, predicting a third round finish. With plenty of people waiting for their shot at the belt, he has an idea of who may be next in line for the belt.
"If you had to pick someone, I would say Jacare. But, Jacare has a fight now with Luke Rockhold. He has a match-up. If he wins, then maybe Jacare, but it all depends."
The rest of 2016 will greatly impact the middleweight division. The title could potentially be left vacant, and the top contenders are all facing off in the coming months. All that is left, is to see who makes the argument that they do actually "deserve" their shot at the belt.