Now that Michael Bisping has finally reached the top of the mountain and stands tall as the new UFC middleweight champion, there are a long list of contenders lining up to challenge for the first defense of his title.
Former champions Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman have already called out Bisping with top ranked contenders Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Yoel Romero not far behind while the UFC weighs all the options for the next championship bout at 185 pounds.
But Bisping told FOX Sports on Monday that selfishly he has another option in mind.
I’ll just go out on a limb and say this right now and people can talk (expletive) all they want, but the fight that I want because he’s almost retired — I want Dan Henderson. I owe Dan Henderson one. Everybody knows that. Everybody knows why.
— Michael Bisping
It’s a fight he’s wanted since 2009 and now that he’s the champion, Bisping feels like he’s finally got the momentum on his side to make it happen.
Henderson defeated Bisping by knockout at UFC 100 back in 2009 in one of the most vicious displays of punching power ever put on display inside the Octagon.
The two middleweights were embroiled in a heated season as coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter” before Henderson put Bisping to sleep with his patented right hand that still stands as one of the greatest knockouts in UFC history.
To this day, Bisping admits that loss probably bothers him more than any other and he’d like nothing more than to get vengeance on Henderson and what better way to entice him into a rematch than with the title on the line.
“He’s still knocking people out, he’s still looking good, but he’s going to retire soon,” Bisping said. “So I would love to get revenge on him before he retires. That is the only reason for wanting him next because soon he’ll be retired and then after that he can stop using that logo of me unconscious with him floating above me. I know people are going to criticize me and say that’s a cop out but for personal reasons, that one has haunted me for a long, long time.
“Then once I dispatch of the old man and I send him packing, then I can take care of “Jacare” and your Weidman’s and your Rockhold’s. They’ll still be there. They ain’t going nowhere. But Dan Henderson is on borrowed time as we speak.”
Since knocking out Rockhold at UFC 199 to win the title, Bisping has been riding high on his championship win but ever since the rematch with Henderson was first mentioned, it’s the fight that’s been on his mind ever since.
Bisping also knows that a rematch with Henderson would do big business for the UFC and he sees that fight as probably the most marketable matchup in the division right now as well.
“It’s a huge fight. I know that Joe Rogan put a picture out there on Instagram and it just got people talking. The amount of messages I’ve gotten on Twitter from people, it’s crazy, they want to see it,” Bisping said. “Dan has had an amazing career. He’s one of the true pioneers and legends of this sport and he always will be and he owns an incredible knockout over me.
“So for those reasons, I do want to get that back. On top of that, it’s a huge fight that would sell. People want to see that. He’s still got the knockout power, now I’m the champion so for all those reasons, I would love to get another crack at that son of a (expletive).”
In Bisping’s mind he couldn’t imagine a better way to cap off 2016 than getting the rematch with Henderson that he’s wanted for years.
Bisping already defeated arguably the greatest fighter of all time in Anderson Silva in February before knocking out Rockhold to win the belt in June. Beating Henderson and erasing the bad memories from their first fight would be the perfect finish to an incredible year for Bisping and he would love to see it happen.
And if Henderson isn’t available, Bisping has one other idea in mind.
“That would be incredible for me,” Bisping said about the Henderson fight. “Then in the mean time maybe “Jacare” can fight Anderson Silva and I can fight the winner of that after I beat Henderson.
“Or maybe GSP — GSP (Georges St-Pierre) is apparently throwing his name in the mix. Talking about big fights, if GSP wanted to come up to 185, I would welcome him as well.”