During the broadcast of UFC Fight Night 15, Mike Goldberg announced that the ninth season of The Ultimate Fighter would pit aspiring UFC welterweights and middleweights from the United States and England against each other is what is being dubbed TUF 9 “US vs. UK.” No official coaching announcements have been made yet, but according to MMA Bay, UFC middleweight contenders Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping are set to become the season nine coaches.
According to the report, the announcement will be made following Bisping’s fight against Chris Leben at UFC 89, and the show will culminate in a number one contender match between the two coaches.
The UFC are set to hand Bisping the position following his upcoming clash next month against Chris Leben at UFC 89, a fight officials will be hoping to use to solidify his recent standing in the middleweight division.
This is will then set up a number one contenders fight between Bisping and his opposing coach, thought to be Henderson, after the show finishes next summer, with the winner being grated a middleweight title shot, possibly in December next year.
It’s important to note that this should only be taken as a rumor at this point. The report does not cite any sources, although MMA Bay has provided reliable information in the past, and this news does make quite a bit of sense.
Let’s assume this is true though for a moment. Would Bisbing’s involvement in the show be dependent upon the outcome of the Leben fight on Oct. 18? Since the show would seemingly be a step towards a title shot, you would think he would need to win that fight to earn his spot. On the other hand, Bisping is by far the UFC’s biggest UK star, and since the show will be centered around a competition between the US and the UK, it would seem necessary for Bisping to be involved.
As far as the other coach, there really couldn’t be a more perfect candidate for this scenario than Dan Henderson. It’s hard to find a fighter more all-American than Hendo, and he could certainly use the exposure. With his win over Palhares at UFC 88, he’s back on the road to a title shot, and it seems almost inevitable that he would have to get through Bisping at some point to get there.
Another question is if these two aren’t going to fight until the end of 2009, what is Anderson Silva, assuming he beats Cote at UFC 90, going to do in the meantime? Will he continue to defend his middleweight title? Assuming Bisping and Hendo are out of the picture for a full year, that really only leaves Yushin Okami (when he’s healthy) and Nate Marquardt left to challenge for the title. Perhaps we will be seeing more of Anderson at light heavyweight in the coming year?
Like I said, it shouldn’t be taken as more than a rumor, but still, it’s rumor that seems to fit almost perfectly.
[UPDATE 9/20/08 – 4:18PM ET] – It seems this report is stemming from an article published at The Sun. According to the report, Bisping will be offered the coaching position if he defeats Chris Leben at UFC 89. It is unclear if Bisping would be denied the opportunity if he loses, but considering Bisping is really the UFC’s only option if they want a British star to coach the UK team, don’t be surprised if they offer it to him either way.