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If Chris Weidman gets the next shot at Anderson Silva, who has the best case for a title shot after that with a win this fall?
RICH HANSEN, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
It depends on what fights they make. It looks like they're going to make Alan Belcher vs. Vitor Belfort (advantage Belcher) in Rio (um, never mind, advantage Belfort), and we already know that Michael Bisping will be decisioning Brian Stann in September. I think the way this plays out is that Belfort and Bisping will wind up being the co-main event behind Silva vs. Weidman on Super bowl Weekend, with the winner facing Silva (or Weidman) in the summer of 2013.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I don't think there is a "best case," but you could probably make a good argument for a lot of guys. I think if Michael Bisping were to beat Brian Stann in an impressive manner, that would be a good way to go. You give Bisping his title shot and let him do the hyping for the fight. Unless someone comes out of left field, that's probably your best shot for an exciting fight.
ANWAR PEREZ, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
The easiest and most decisivie person would be Michael Bisping, if not a newcomer to the division in Rashad Evans. Bisping would get it before Evans with a win over Brian Stann, but Evans could get one notch under him and then move immediately into a title fight with Silva. I still think Bisping will get it next, but if Evans does drop, don't be surprised to see Evans scoot in front of Bisping.
ERIC HOBAUGH, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
This is a very hard question, because Anderson Silva has beaten so many of the top fighters at 185. If you look at the top ten middleweights right now, Vitor Belfort, Tim Boetsch, and Michael Bisbing are the only sensible names. From that small list, Michael Bisping may have the best possibility of a sellable fight for the UFC. If Bisbing gets past Brian Stann, he might get a title shot. We can never forget it is not always about who is most deserving of the fight, but who can sell the most pay-per-views.
BRAD WALKER, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
If Weidman does in fact receive the next shot against Anderson Silva, the people with the best cases are Michael Bisping or Brian Stann by a long shot. It's very easy to say here you go Weidman, do what you can against the Spider, but there's no guarantee thats the fight they will chose to put together either. 185 does not have a lot of solid contenders left since Silva has already beaten most of them, but how everything unfolds should tell us the way UFC sees the lay of the land, and it will be an interesting year for the whole weight class.
JASON AMADI, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
In MMA, there are guys who need to win more fights than others to stand out. Alan Belcher is one of those guys, Brian Stann (because of how he was dominated by Chael Sonnen) is one of those guys and Tim Boetsch is one of those guys.
Vitor Belfort and Michael Bisping can both be fast tracked to a title shot with one win over a good name, and I think Bisping gets the nod just because people would love to see him get beat up by Anderson Silva. Belfort was already devastated by Anderson in a fashion so spectacular that there's no reason for a rematch to be put together anytime soon.
[Michael Bisping art by Grant Gould (c) MMATorch.com]
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