‘The Count’ faces ‘The Barbarian’ on July 7
The UFC is starting to give a little shape to its annual Independence Day weekend card in Las Vegas.
On Monday, the promotion announced a middleweight bout between contenders Michael Bisping and Tim Boetsch for UFC 148. The pay-per-view will take place July 7 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and will be preceded by a UFC Fan Expo, which will take place at Mandalay Bay.
UFC 148 is expected to feature a bantamweight title fight between champion Dominick Cruz and challenger Urijah Faber upon the completion of their coaching stints on the current season of "The Ultimate Fighter LIVE" on FX. And on Sunday, the UFC announced a middleweight fight between former UFC champion Rich Franklin and former Strikeforce champ Cung Le for the card.
Bisping (22-4, 12-4 UFC) is coming off a tough unanimous decision loss to Chael Sonnen in a middleweight title eliminator fight at January's UFC on Fox show in Chicago. Sonnen, on the strength of that win, gets a shot at middleweight champ Anderson Silva, which is expected to take place in June in Brazil. Prior to the loss to Sonnen, Bisping had put together a four-fight winning streak that included a unanimous decision win over Yoshihiro Akiyama and knockouts of Jorge Rivera and Jason "Mayhem" Miller in a fight on the TUF 14 Finale after the two coached against each other.
Bisping started his UFC career as a light heavyweight, winning the 205-pound competition on Season 2 of "The Ultimate Fighter." He started his UFC career 4-0, and his pro career 14-0, before a split decision loss to Rashad Evans sent him packing to the middleweight division, where he's been fighting ever since. His only losses have been to Evans, Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson and Sonnen, and Henderson was the only one to finish him.
Boetsch (15-4, 6-3 UFC) is riding a three-fight winning streak, including a Comeback of the Year-candidate knockout win against Yushin Okami last month at UFC 144 in Japan. In that fight, Boetsch was dominated for the first two rounds and came out in desperate need of a stoppage in the third. He got it with an onslaught of punches that stunned the crowd at the Saitama Super Arena. Prior to that win, Boetsch had unanimous decision victories over Kendall Grove and Nick Ring, both at middleweight after dropping down from light heavyweight following a submission loss to Phil Davis at UFC 123.
Boetsch is 4-1 in his second stint with the UFC after going 2-2 with the promotion in 2008-09. Twelve of "The Barbarian's" 15 wins have come by stoppage – his only three decision wins have all come in this current second stint with the UFC.