Michael Bisping to fight Tim Boetsch

Updated: March 19, 2012, 4:08 PM ET
By Franklin McNeil | ESPN.com

Middleweight contender Michael Bisping has agreed to face hard-hitting Tim Boetsch on July 7 at UFC 148 in Las Vegas, the promotion announced Monday.

A victory is expected to put Bisping (22-4) in position to secure a title shot against the Anderson Silva-Chael Sonnen winner.

Silva is slated to face Sonnen this summer, though a date has yet to be determined for their fight.

During his most recent outing, a middleweight title eliminator in Chicago on Jan. 28, Bisping lost by unanimous decision to Sonnen.

Boetsch, a former light heavyweight, has won three fights in a row since making his middleweight debut in May 2011.

But it was his come-from-behind TKO victory Feb. 26 over former top middleweight contender Yushin Okami that led Boetsch (15-4) to ask UFC officials for another high-profile opponent.

The fighter Boetsch targeted was Bisping, who also has competed at 205 pounds.

In addition to Bisping-Boetsch, bantamweight contender Renan Barao takes on Jeff Hougland at UFC 148.

Barao (28-1) has not lost a fight since his mixed martial arts debut on April 14, 2005. He is 5-0 inside the Octagon.

Hougland (10-4) has won nine in a row.

Franklin McNeil covers mixed martial arts and boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Franklin_McNeil.