1. Michael Bisping (30-7)Bisping looked like he was in line for the biggest payday of his career and a potential legacy-forging super fight with welterweight legend Georges St. Pierre later this year. However, when the bout was announced, the UFC was optimistic it could have the deal done for July, which proved to be fool's gold when GSP insisted he would not fight until after October. Now, “The Count” seems to be back on track to defend his UFC middleweight title against No. 1 contender Yoel Romero come July.
2. Luke Rockhold (15-3)Rockhold has been on the shelf since an injury forced him out of a rematch with Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in November. More recently, Rockhold has spent some time training with Henri Hooft at Combat Club in Florida, but the former Strikeforce middleweight champion has really kept his name in the headlines by advocating for his fellow UFC fighters to “stand up” and not be afraid to tell their promotion to “[expletive] off.”
3. Yoel Romero (12-1)Throughout the shambolic Michael Bisping-Georges St. Pierre situation, Romero remained bullish that he wanted the next crack at the UFC middleweight title. With “Rush” saying he wants to wait until after October to fight Bisping, the UFC has opted to bless Romero with the title shot he has already earned, targeting Bisping-Romero for this July.
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)Weidman has suffered three straight defeats after starting his career 13-0, and following his debacle of a TKO loss to Gegard Mousasi at UFC 210 in April, “All-American” lobbied for a rematch. However, Mousasi has become a free agent, and Weidman could not pass up the chance to fight in front of a partisan crowd in Long Island, New York. The former UFC 185-pound king is due to headline UFC on Fox 25, where he takes on Kelvin Gastelum on July 22.
8. David Branch (21-3)It was not a pretty affair, but Branch earned his 11th win in a row at UFC 211 on May 13 and remained unbeaten since a 2012 loss to Anthony Johnson by taking a split decision over Krzysztof Jotko. Even if his performance was not exactly enthusing, it gave the Bronx, New York, native a win to cement his top-10 status and saw his hand raised inside the Octagon for the first time since December 2010.
9. Anderson Silva (34-8, 1 NC)Silva's slated June 3 pairing with Kelvin Gastelum went to hell in a hand basket when the latter tested positive for cannabinoid metabolites and was pulled from the bout. Following Gastelum's removal, Silva lobbied for an interim UFC middleweight title bout against Yoel Romero. After his demands went unmet, “The Spider” shut down his training camp entirely and removed himself from the UFC 212 bill in Rio de Janeiro.
10. Kelvin Gastelum (14-2)Coming off of his March 11 stoppage of Vitor Belfort, Gastelum was penciled in to face former middleweight champion Anderson Silva at UFC 212 on June 3. Instead, Gastelum tested positive for cannabinoid metabolites in a post-fight drug sample, forcing him out of the bout. Instead, “The Ultimate Fighter 17” winner will get a different former middleweight champ next time out: Gastelum is scheduled to meet Chris Weidman in the UFC on Fox 25 headliner on July 22 in Long Island, New York.
Other Contenders: Derek Brunson, Rafael Carvalho, Krzysztof Jotko, Daniel Kelly, Thales Leites.
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