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Michael Bisping has variety of options for first UFC title defense

Michael Bisping won the middleweight title at UFC 199 on June 4. (Getty Images)Now that the shock has worn off from Michael Bisping’s stunning first-round knockout of Luke Rockhold at UFC 199, the conversation has shifted to the middleweight champion’s first title defense. And the Brit isn’t short on suitors who are both deserving and eager to get a crack at Bisping.

There’s obviously Rockhold, who Bisping defeated and evened up the series to one victory each. Then there’s Chris Weidman, the former champion who Bisping replaced on just over two weeks' notice to get the opportunity of a lifetime. Jacare Souza, who dominated Vitor Belfort in his last outing, is also someone who could factor into the equation.

But of all the possible opponents mentioned, Bisping doesn’t appear to be interested in any of them. He’s already dismissed an immediate rematch with Rockhold and said that Weidman needed to get back into the win column before challenging for the title. As for Jacare, he’s in the mix but not necessarily at the top of the list. The man who Bisping could be angling for a fight against is a familiar name. Although he’s not ranked in the top five, Bisping owes him for the knockout punch heard around the world at UFC 100.

“Of course, [a rematch with Dan Henderson] is a fight that I would love,” Bisping said Monday on The MMA Hour. “There hasn’t been any kind of offer or anything like that, but that’s a fight that I would take because everybody knows about UFC 100, and Dan Henderson still has an image of him floating above my head while I’m knocked out as his logo. So, I would like to put him in his place."

Bisping and Henderson were engaged in a heated feud that culminated at UFC 100 when Henderson infamously knocked Bisping out in the second round of their grudge match. That fight may have been nearly seven years ago, but it is still recognized by many as one of the most brutal knockouts in UFC history.

Henderson is 45 years old and coming off a scintillating knockout of Hector Lombard at UFC 199 that seemingly has him holding off on retirement for at least one more fight. And considering that Henderson has won world titles in every major mixed martial arts organization except the UFC, it’s a fight that holds a lot of intrigue to both fight fans and Bisping, despite Henderson being ranked No. 13 in the middleweight division.

Another name that may not have been on Bisping’s radar a few weeks ago but was presented as a far-fetched possibility is the still-retired Georges St-Pierre.

"It kind of has now that you mentioned it," he said when asked about facing the man who shares the UFC all-time wins total with Bisping at 19. "As you said, fighting Georges St-Pierre [would be] great, and of course for the title for who has the most wins in UFC history … I mean, that alone is a fantastic tagline and great promotion. And of course, the numbers would be fantastic with Georges St-Pierre. He’s a massive, proven draw, and at the end of the day we’ll try to generate as much money as possible.”

At the age of 37, Bisping is looking for the biggest and most lucrative opportunities now that he is at the top of his division. Whether that’s a rematch with Henderson or a “superfight” with St-Pierre, “The Count” is here to make a significant impact while he’s still around.

Ultimately, Bisping says he could not care less whom he fights next. The only thing he does care about is where his first title defense will be.

"One thing I would like to do is defend the belt in the U.K.," he said. "I would love to defend the belt in Manchester later in the year."

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