While Conor McGregor teases claiming lightweight and welterweight gold in his UFC return, Jon Jones thinks of a move to heavyweight or facing middleweight champ Israel Adesanya and four champ-champs have been crowned in the UFC — with three coming in the last 18 months — one UFC Hall of Famer is over the talks of superfights and champions moving weight classes.
Former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping, in a recent edition of his Believe You Me podcast, feels the “superfight era” in the UFC has grown tiresome. He feels the desire of champions to secure multiple gold belts and hold them simultaneously is getting in the way of champions actually defending their titles against the top contenders of their divisions.
“I’m sick of all this talk of superfights, if I’m honest,” Bisping said. “I want to see the champions defending the belts. All of this jumping around… I think last year and the year before, it all got a little silly.”
Some may consider Bisping a hypocrite, as his two middleweight title defenses could have been considered superfights — against rival Dan Henderson and Georges St Pierre — when there was plenty of more deserving contenders.
It should be noted that superfights have felt increased over the last couple of years, with UFC 244’s Jorge Masvidal vs. Nate Diaz being for a custom, purposely-designed BMF title. Bisping, however, feels the UFC would side with him in getting tired of champ-champs. None of the four champ-champs in UFC history have defended both of their titles during their time as a champ-champ.
When Conor McGregor became the first champ-champ in UFC history in 2016, he was stripped of the featherweight title just two weeks later — partly due to his inactivity at 145 and due to UFC 206 losing its originally planned main event. While Daniel Cormier became the first man to have successfully defend both titles he held as a champ-champ, he was only able to defend the heavyweight title in the six months he spent holding both titles before being stripped of the light heavyweight crown so it could be at stake in the Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson rematch at UFC 232.
That same UFC 232 event saw Amanda Nunes finish Cris Cyborg to become the first female champ-champ. She could have been the first to successfully defend both belts as a champ-champ, but Germaine de Randamie elected to face her for the bantamweight title at UFC 245 rather than the featherweight one.
Most recently, Henry Cejudo, who defeated Demetrius Johnson for the flyweight title at UFC 227 and finished Marlon Moraes for the then-vacant bantamweight title at UFC 238, was stripped of the 125-pound crown.
“Going forward, I feel like the UFC aren’t going to be too quick to make those super fights anymore,” Bisping said. “‘Cause whilst they do capture the imagination of the public, [the UFC is] just stripping Henry Cejudo of the 125 [pound belt]. It’s going to be Joseph Benavidez taking on [Deiveson] Figueiredo for the vacant flyweight title. That’s what they’ve got to do.
“The only real double-champ that’s left now is Amanda Nunes, and even her, she’s having trouble finding challenges at 145 [pounds]. I feel the only reason she hasn’t been stripped [of that belt] yet is there isn’t anyone at ’45 to take her place.”
Quotes via BJ Penn