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Where is Alan Belcher in the middleweight division after UFC on Fox 3, and who would you like to see him fight next?
RICH HANSEN, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
Look, after Silva and Sonnen, middleweight is a clusterf***, that's just the only way to put it. I see nine middleweights who all are really good, and except for Okami, who might be the most talented of the bunch, all nine of these guys have a claim to being one fight away from a title shot: Belfort, Bisping, Lombard, Stann, Munoz, Weidman, Belcher, Boetsch, and Okami.
So where is he, and who should he fight next? Damned if I know. This is why I keep refusing Dana's entreaties to take over Joe Silva's job. But, the way I see it, the UFC is going to give Michael Bisping the least deserved title shot in UFC history since Nathan Quarry got his. After him, assuming he beats Tim Boetsch, it could be Lombard. It might be Lombard ahead of Bisping, illogically, if he gets past Brian Stann, and that is no sure thing. So then maybe after Vitor Belfort legally murders Wanderlei Silva it's his turn. But then again it could be the winner of Munoz vs. Weidman. After all, both guys are marketable as all hell (gee Rich, I didn't realize that hell is marketable), and the UFC clearly will put dollar signs ahead of merit when given the slightest reason to go that direction.
So I reiterate; who's next? How in the hell should I know?
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Belcher is basically where he belongs, in the middle. He's closer to a title shot than he was before, but considering that he was nowhere close to a title shot before, that's not saying much. He had an impressive performance, but there's a logjam of guys with partial claims to a title shot right alongside him. He needs to beat at least two of these guys and then we can talk. If he beats a Mark Munoz and then a Michael Bisping, he might have a legit claim.
BRAD WALKER, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
Belcher is a tweener right now. The top of the division is pretty stagnant but at this point I need to see him beat a solid top 10 fighter to even put him in the higher end at middleweight. His win over Palhares was masterfully executed and if he can replicate that he will build up a huge run for himself. I would like to see him face someone along the lines of Chris Weidman or even a returning Jake Shields to see where he really sits and prove that his last win was not a fluke.
ANWAR PEREZ, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
As of now, Alan Belcher is at least a good fight or two away from a title fight. I think a fight between Belcher and the winner of Michael Bisping and Tim Boetsch would be great. Both of those fighters would be great match-ups for Belcher and provide a great opportunity for the winner of that fight.
ERIC HOBAUGH, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I feel Alan Belcher is still two fights away from a title shot. He should fight Vitor Belfort if he defeats Wanderlei Silva at UFC 147. I have Vitor as my number four ranked middleweight and that would be a great next fight. Either that or he should fight the winner of the Michael Bisping vs. Tim Boetsch fight. Either fight would be a logical the next step in his progression toward the title.
DAN MOORE, MMATORCH UK CONTRIBUTOR
Belcher was extremely impressive last Saturday. He played a risky game by going to the ground with Palhares, but obviously confident in his own ability, the decision absolutely paid off on this occasion. It has fired him up the rankings to somewhere just behind Bisping, Boetsch, Stann and Munoz and his next fight needs to be against a high profile opponent. With many of the top contenders already locked in fights, the most logical choice would be the winner of Belfort vs. Silva. Unlike the other big fights, it's only a few weeks away, so it's his first chance of taking on a big name. If he does eventually beat someone like Belfort, he thoroughly deserves instant title consideration. That's unless other top contenders further up the totem pole aren't matching his achievements with big wins of their own.
JASON AMADI, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
The middleweight division is heating up, so the only thing we know for sure is that he's ahead of Rousimar Palhares. Hector Lombard gets the next title shot if he beats Brian Stann, but it doesn't sound like the same opportunity is being afforded Stann, so Belcher could face him.
But I think in terms of timing, it would work out a lot better for the UFC to set him up with Chris Weidman (if he beats Mark Munoz) or the Tim Boetsch-Michael Bisping winner.
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