Before bantamweights Urijah Faber and Renan Barao take center stage and fight for the interim title at 135 pounds, Hector Lombard and Tim Boetsch will determine the immediate course of a crowded middleweight division Saturday at UFC 149. An impressive win by Lombard (31-2-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) could anoint him the No. 1 contender to Anderson Silva's title and place Long Island's Chris Weidman (9-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) into a title-elimination match to determine the next top contender at 185.
"We got plans, my friends," UFC President Dana White said this week in Calgary. "It's all I've been talking about for four days, believe me. I've been on the phone with me and [matchmaker] Joe Silva putting together some really good fights. As long as everyone stays healthy, believe me."
Brian Stann and Michael Bisping are fighting at UFC 152 in September. Alan Belcher is also in the mix. Currently without an opponent, Belcher has openly campaigned for the next title shot. Weidman told SBNation New York before defeating Mark Munoz he's paid enough dues to merit the next shot and challenged the Spider after wiping out Munoz at UFC on FUEL 4. Lombard is on a 25-fight unbeaten streak and hungry to prove he belongs in the UFC after an incredible run in Bellator Fighting Championships. Boetsch (15-4 MMA, 6-3 UFC), coming off an upset victory over Yushin Okami, will skyrocket up the rankings if he defeats Lombard in the co-headliner of UFC 149.
Once the results are in the books, White promises to unveil the title picture at middleweight.
"You know how normally, after a fight on Saturday, you guys are like ‘who is he going to fight next,' I'll have answers for you on Saturday," White said. "We'll see who wins, and I'll have a lot of answers for the 185-pound division. I'm excited, man, I'm serious, the 185-pound division has never been more exciting."
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