It’s in order for now, but there’s an impending log jam at 185.
Most of the fighters on this list have been clamoring to get into the ring with Anderson Silva but with the champion venturing into the light heavyweight division later this month, they’ve begun pairing up for what many of them believe is their #1 contender bout.
While it’s a great time for contenders to stake their claim, it’s also a violatile time for the losers. Mark Munoz is still one of the division’s best, but after getting KO’d by Chris Weidman, he’s out of the discussion at the moment. Same goes for Brian Stann. Though his unanimous decision loss against Michael Bisping was close, he’ll need to string together two or three more wins to become a contender once again.
Meanwhile, there are some fighters waiting to ascend the ladder. Andrew Craig is 2-0 since entering the UFC and will likely make the list with another impressive win. Chris Camozzi? Hector Lombard? Rousimar Palhares? All possibilities as well.
Champion: Anderson Silva
After Anderson Silva decided to take the rest of the year off, he agreed to step in as a replacement against Stephan Bonnar for UFC 153 at 205 pounds. Should he then decide to take some time off, he’ll have no shortage of challengers for his belt in 2013.
Though it has no impact on his Middleweight Championship, the Stephan Bonnar fight is still important. Should he lose that fight, he’ll also lose something very important: and that’s leverage. He’s won more than enough fights to have a say in who he faces next, but one loss would send that out the window, whether he’s aware of it or not.
Contenders: Chris Weidman, Michael Bisping
If Weidman can get past Tim Boetsch in December, he may have a meeting with Bisping in his future. I feel like Weidman has done enough to secure a title shot with a win, but Bisping could get a crack at him if Silva sits out for awhile.
In The Discussion: Alan Belcher, Vitor Belfort, Tim Boetsch
Based on the assumption that he’ll keep fighting as a middleweight. Yes, Vitor is coming off of a submission loss to Jon Jones. But do you see him losing to anyone other than Anderson Silva at 185? I don’t yet.
As for Tim Boetsch, his win against Hector Lombard wasn’t impressive but it keeps him in the discussion. A win against Weidman would do wonders for him.
I know that Alan Belcher has only fought four times in the past four years, but he’s finished all four. Another impressive win against Okami should officially put him into the contender spot.
On The Rise: Francis Carmont, Constantinos Phillipou
He hasn’t fought anyone of note yet, but Francis Carmont has finished his last two opponents on his way to a two-fight winning streak in the UFC. He faces Tom Lawlor in November and if he rolls through him as well, a step up in competition is in order.
Constantinos Phillipou’s win streak hasn’t been as sexy as Carmont’s but it’s a win streak nonetheless. A win against Nick Ring would move a few more eyeballs in his direction. A fight against Carmont would be great, should they both win next month.
Constantinos Phillipou vs. Nick Ring – UFC 154 (November 17)
Francis Carmont vs. Tom Lawlor – UFC 154 (November 17)
Hector Lombard vs. Rousimar Palhares – UFC on FX 6 (December 14)
Chris Weidman vs. Tim Boetsch – UFC 155 (December 29)
Alan Belcher vs. Yushin Okami – UFC 155 (December 29)