Some rivalries are better left alone.
After Michael Bisping shocked the world by securing the UFC middleweight belt with a knockout finish of Luke Rockhold, he had nothing left to do except wait to hear who his first title defense would be against. With Dan Henderson securing a knockout victory himself at UFC 199, fans quickly took to the internet to propose a rematch between these two veteran 185ers.
The two last fought at UFC 100 in which Henderson landed one of the most vicious knockout victories of all time with his mythic H-Bomb. The fact that Bisping has disputed this loss and blamed it on a broken drug testing system in the UFC that existed a decade ago has only added fuel to the rumor mill fire that is surrounding this potential rematch.
Both fighters have come out and said that they would be interested in this fight. The aging Henderson has stated that this would be a great way to cap off his nearly 20-year career and, according to mmafighting.com, Bisping says he "would love" to have this rematch so that he could finally "put [Henderson] in his place."
Both these men have been legends in the sport and the rematch would be an exciting bout to cap off Hendo's career and give the Count the chance at revenge.
But not when Bisping is the champ.
Hendo is currently ranked 13th on ufc.com and has only two wins in his last five fights and four in his last 10. He is 45 years old and would be 46 by the time the fight would take place at the proposed UFC 204. Randy Couture is the only UFC fighter in history to hold a belt after the age of 40.
Henderson's days in the UFC may not be over. Though his contract is up and I would personally like to see him go out on the beautiful head kick to elbow knockout finish on Hector Lombard at UFC 199, he still has the ability to negotiate more fights. If he wants a shot to rematch Bisping for the title or pass Couture for the oldest champion (45 years, four months and 25 days) he needs to rattle off a couple of more wins.
Two solid fights against top 10 middleweights such as Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva would be more than enough to warrant Hendo's title shot. It could even give him a chance to pass Couture as the oldest person to win a UFC fight (47 years, two months, seven days).
The rematch would also not be best for Bisping. "The Count" prides himself on competing against the best in the UFC's middleweight division. Though Henderson would be great for promotional sake, it would not give him the right challenger for his first career title defense.
The 185-pound division is too stacked to hold up the top fighters from getting their title shots. Rockhold definitely wants a chance at redemption and would love to face Bisping as soon as possible. Chris Weidman was scheduled for the title bout before a neck injury sidelined him. Jacare Souza has been on a tear as of late, winning all but one of his seven UFC fights and finishing five of his opponents. His devastating ground game would also give Bisping the most trouble if the fight were taken to the canvas. Even Yoel Romero could be a possible factor once he comes off his suspension for a failed drug test. His 7-0 record inside the Octagon would be good enough for most people to earn a chance at the belt, but Romero might need one fight after finishing his suspension before the UFC awards him a title shot.
Hendo is the safe bet for Bisping if he just wants to hold onto the belt. He knows that as long as he does not circle to Henderson's right hand like he did at UFC 100, there is a good chance he will win. However, with the Count's reputation of taking on top fighters, the only way this fight should happen is if it is treated as the sending off party for Henderson.
Jacare is probably the best opponent for Bisping to fight if he wants to prove that he truly is the best 185er in the world. After that, if he still holds the belt Bisping should take on the winner of Rockhold-Weidman 2 once Weidman is fully recovered from his injury. Only after that and if Hendo keeps winning will the rematch be appropriate for a world championship fight.