A new published report coming out of the UK is stating that Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson are the early-favorites to land coaching spots for the upcoming ninth installment of “The UItimate Fighter,” which will feature teams comprised of welterweights and middleweights representing both the U.S. and the UK in a head-to-head format.
The Sun, a British tabloid, is claiming that Bisping has not yet been offered the UK coaching slot because he is slated to fight Chris Leben in the main event of UFC 89 in Birmingham, England. But according to The Sun, “(UFC President) Dana White will immediately hand the British star a contract to appear on the show if he overcomes Leben next month.”
While The Sun does not have a stellar journalistic reputation, FiveOuncesOfPain.com contacted a source earlier today inquiring about the validity of the report and we were told that Bisping has not been offered a spot on the show but is considered a logical candidate. In addition to being a UK citizen and a star in the country, he also has deep ties to TUF having won the show’s light heavyweight tournament during its third season.
The Sun adds that is believed that Henderson, the former PRIDE middleweight and welterweight champion, will coach the U.S. team and that the two coaches would face each other in a fight that would take place in December of 2009 to determine a number one contender for the middleweight title.
It should be noted that we were unable to verify whether Henderson is indeed under consideration for a TUF 9 coaching position. On some levels, he appears to be a logical choice in that he’s a top middleweight contender. He’d serve as a strong test for Bisping and a Henderson vs. Bisping matchup certainly has box office potential if marketed properly. Furthermore, he would add to the U.S. vs. UK theme having represented America in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics in Greco-Roman wrestling.
While he appears to be a strong candidate in many regards, he is not the perfect choice considering he’s already fought the promotion’s current middleweight champion, Anderson Silva, and lost to him at UFC 82 this past March. If Henderson were to beat Bisping and Silva were to remain the middleweight champion, it would remain to be seen just how much marketing potential Silva vs. Henderson II would have considering Silva won the first fight via submission in the second round.
It also remains to be seen whether the 38-year old Henderson would want to leave his family and his training center, Team Quest, for up to six weeks.