Count Michael Bisping in.
With Chris Weidman injured and top replacement choice Ronaldo Souza needing surgery after UFC 198, UFC President Dana White announced Wednesday on SportsCenter that 4th ranked Middleweight contender Michael Bisping will be facing Luke Rockhold at UFC 199.
The plot for the June 4 Middleweight title bout took a surprising turn when rumors of former champion Chris Weidman pulling out of the bout with an injury circulated early Tuesday. It was later confirmed that Weidman suffered a herniated disc in his neck in training and would be needing surgery. With two weeks left before UFC 199, the UFC scrambled to find a replacement foe for Luke Rockhold.
Getting someone to step in and fight for the Middleweight gold wasn’t difficult. There were fighters who volunteered their services. Heck, even Yoel Romero who will be available only on July 12 was willing to step in:
— Yoel Romero (@YoelRomeroMMA) May 17, 2016
But the most logical choice would have been Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza who is the next fighter on top of the middleweight ladder at #2. But like Weidman, Souza is hurt. According to an official statement from Jacare, he will be undergoing arthroscopy on his right knee, which he injured one week before UFC 198.
With Souza out too, the call naturally went to Bisping who’s won three straight bouts, including last February’s come from behind decision win over Anderson Silva. Said UFC President Dana White on SportsCenter:
“Who makes the most sense is obviously Jacare Souza, who just fought Saturday in a dominating performance. But he’s going to need surgery and is going to be out for a while. The next guy after Vitor Belfort and behind him in line is Michael Bisping.”
But not only is Michael Bisping the guy next in line, he’s also one fighter who has a history with Rockhold. Before Bisping’s current 3 fight win streak, the trash talking Briton lost to Rockhold at UFC Fight Night 55 in 2014. According to White, Rockhold and Bisping don’t like each other:
“Obviously [Rockhold] is bummed out, but he’s very excited to fight Bisping. They don’t like each other. As soon as the fight fell out with Weidman yesterday, those two started going back and forth on social media.”
Right away they did. After Bisping offered to step-in for Weidman, the two immediately started throwing verbal jabs at each other:
— Luke Rockhold (@LukeRockhold) May 18, 2016
Like Conor McGregor, Michael Bisping always trash talks his way to and around fights. This time though and with Jacare out, he earned the call. Let the talking begin.