1. Michael Bisping (30-7)Bisping looked like he was on a collision course with Yoel Romero for his second title defense in the early summer. Then Georges St. Pierre unretired and returned to the UFC, and now they are due to square off this fall. The fight should earn Bisping the biggest payday of his career by far. If he wins, “The Count” will not only be UFC middleweight champion but own victories over GSP and Anderson Silva.
2. Luke Rockhold (15-3)Yoel Romero’s incredible flying knee stoppage of Chris Weidman would have made Rockhold’s path to a rematch with UFC champ Michael Bisping hard anyway, but a knee injury forced the oft-injured American Kickboxing Academy ace to the sidelines, nixing his slated Nov. 27 rematch with Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. The former UFC and Strikeforce titleholder will need to get healthy before hopping back into the suddenly packed line of contenders at 185 pounds.
3. Yoel Romero (12-1)The heart breaks for Romero. The Olympic silver medalist has gone 8-0 in the UFC, and with his each of his last two victories over Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and former champion Chris Weidman, he seemed to have firmed up a title shot. He even started an entertaining trash talking campaign against champion Michael Bisping. Alas, Georges St. Pierre unretired and has signed to face Bisping this fall, meaning the American Top Team product will have to keep biding his time.
4. Robert Whittaker (18-4)Whittaker may have emerged as a prospect and won “The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes” at 170 pounds, but there is no question what division he now considers home. Since moving up to middleweight, the Kiwi is 6-0 in the UFC with four stoppages. His most recent victory was a truly sensational accomplishment: At UFC on Fox 24 on April 15, Whittaker strolled into the biggest fight of his pro career and flattened grappling legend and perennial 185-pound standout Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza to vault himself into the upper echelon of the division.
5. Ronaldo Souza (24-5, 1 NC)“Jacare” had been outspoken in recent months about how the UFC has conducted the middleweight division, from Michael Bisping's championship win and "The Count" defending against an aged Dan Henderson to a returning Georges St. Pierre being granted a title shot. Unfortunately for Souza, after repeatedly stating his case for crack at UFC gold, he met red-hot contender at Robert Whittaker at UFC on Fox 24 and was knocked out in the second round.
6. Gegard Mousasi (42-6-2)Headed into the biggest fight of his career -- and the last fight on his UFC contract -- Mousasi produced results, though perhaps not the way he wanted. At UFC 210, Mousasi won his fifth straight bout, knocking out former middleweight king Chris Weidman in the second round. Unfortunately, the TKO came with massive controversy due to referee Dan Miragliotta and the New York State Athletic Commission’s mishandling of the fight-ending call. Nonetheless, “The Dreamcatcher” figures to catch a nice contract from the UFC or former promoter Scott Coker, who now presides over Bellator MMA.
7. Chris Weidman (13-3)After starting his MMA career 13-0 and stopping the legendary Anderson Silva twice, Weidman has suffered three straight knockout losses to Luke Rockhold, Yoel Romero and Gegard Mousasi. The “All-American” is now clinging to a sliver of hope to take the last L off of his record, however, petitioning the New York State Athletic Commission to overturn Mousasi's UFC 210 win on account of the shambolic, controversial manner in which “The Dreamcatcher” -- and his knees -- secured the win.
8. Anderson Silva (34-8, 1 NC)Silva is still scheduled to partake in UFC 212 on June 3 in Rio de Janeiro, but he needs a new opponent, as Kelvin Gastelum was flagged for having marijuana metabolites in his system following his win over Vitor Belfort on March 11. “The Spider” has reportedly expressed interest in facing fellow fancy striker Uriah Hall as a replacement.
9. Kelvin Gastelum (14-2)After he missed weight repeatedly as a 170-pound contender, Gastelum took his talents to the middleweight division and thrived, crushing Tim Kennedy and Vitor Belfort in back-to-back wins before sliding into the biggest fight of his career: a June 3 date against legend Anderson Silva at UFC 212. However, Gastelum was flagged over a potential failed test for marijuana metabolites following the Belfort win, yanking him out of the Silva bout.
10. Derek Brunson (16-5)It has been a rough couple of months for Brunson, who had a five-fight winning streak snapped by Robert Whittaker in November, falling via first-round knockout despite owning the early portions of the bout. He returned to action in February, only to lose a dubious decision to MMA legend Anderson Silva. Things do not get much easier for the North Carolina native, as the UFC is currently angling for Brunson to face four-time Olympic judoka Daniel Kelly at the UFC Fight Night card on June 10 in Auckland, New Zealand.
Other Contenders: David Branch, Rafael Carvalho, Krzysztof Jotko, Daniel Kelly, Thales Leites
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