UFC 204 Bisping vs Henderson
The UFC heads across the pond to Manchester, England tonight for UFC 204 Bisping vs Henderson. The main event will see Michael Bisping make his first title defense of the UFC Middleweight championship. He looks to avenge his devastating knockout loss to Dan Henderson in a rematch of their fight from seven years ago. The biggest names on the card are a little long in the tooth, but there are some really interesting top 10 match-ups in both the Light heavyweight and Middleweight divisions. I will breakdown what I think are the most compelling fights on the card. I’ll close it out with my predictions on how these fights should play out this weekend and try to help your bank accounts.
Notable Main Card Fights:
Ovince Saint Preux (5th) vs Jimi “Poster Boy” Manuwa (205lbs Light heavyweight)
Preview: Casual MMA fans likely became aware of Ovince Saint Preux when he fought and lost his fight with Jon Jones for the Light Heavyweight championship this April. However, Saint Preux has been a high-level fighter fighting all the best 205lbs fighters the division has to offer. Saint Preux’s opponent Jimi Manuwa has also fought many of the best in the division, making this an interesting fight between two guys who likely are not good enough to become champions but can beat most guys in the division on any night. Saint Preux will hold a height and reach advantage against Manuwa, as well as a better chin & cardio track record. Manuwa holds one significant advantage over Saint Preux, and that’s his striking power. It is the type of power that can change fights, and it’s why Saint Preux will likely look to take Manuwa to the mat and out of his element. Manuwa is going to try to keep his distance and allow his power to carry him to victory. A win for either fighter likely gets him another top 5 fight in the division, possibly even the loser of the Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and champion Daniel Cormier.
Odds: (Saint Preux -155) vs (Manuwa +135)
Prediction: This fight could be interesting if Manuwa catches Saint Preux early and hurts him. However, in fights like this I try not to over think it when you have such a disparity in skill sets between the two fighters. Manuwa can bang, but his chin has also failed him on multiple occasions. Saint Preux has fought the best in division, and while he hasn’t always been victorious, he’s never been embarrassed. Saint Preux can beat Manuwa in multiple ways, while Manuwa is a one-dimensional fighter. I’ll take Saint Preux at a fair price, and hope he can avoid a big blast on way to a unanimous decision victory.
(Saint Preux (-155) via Unanimous Decision)
Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort (5th) vs Gegard Mousasi (185lbs Middleweight)
Preview: Vitor Belfort is the epitome of boom or bust in the octagon. He appears to unleash an unrelenting wave of destruction in all the opening rounds of his fights. If his opponent cannot withstand Vitor’s barrage, he knocks them out. If his opponents are able to weather to the storm, Vitor tires, gets frustrated, and then he gets knocked out. His opponent Gegard Mousasi has seen all the best fighters in the world, and has beaten most of them. He has so many ways to beat his opponents, and uses his wealth of experience to adjust his game plan during the fight to find ways to win. Mousasi has a significant height, reach, and age advantage over Belfort. Belfort’s career is in its final days, and a loss to Mousasi will all but end his chances of ever fighting for a championship in the UFC again. Mousasi is looking to get another shot at the title, and a win over the legendary Belfort should get him back into the top 5. Mousasi’s chin is as tough as they come in the division as he has only been stopped once via TKO, making Belfort’s chances at overwhelming him even tougher. Belfort’s takedown and striking defense are very pedestrian which should allow Mousasi to do whatever he wants if he can withstand the initial Belfort flurry.
Odds: (Belfort +265) vs (Mousasi -315)
Prediction: It is a sore subject many fans do not like to acknowledge, but ever since the new USADA stringent performance enhancing took effect; Belfort’s not been the same fighter that mowed down top fighters like Luke Rockhold, Anthony Johnson, and Michael Bisping. His power is still there, and he still ahs the skills that should worry any fighter he faces, but the overwhelming terror is gone. Mousasi has beaten better fighters than a close to washed up Belfort, and I think that will give him the confidence he needs to withstand Belfort’s early onslaught. However, giving up nearly 3-1 odds to bet Mousasi is a steep price if you are looking to find value. I think Mousasi wins but I can’t advocate taking him at that price. I think there is only one real option worth looking at in this fight if you want to make some extra coin. Take the over 1.5 rounds, at plus odds.
(Mousasi (-315) via Late Stoppage); (Over 1.5 rounds +115)
Main Event (Middleweight Championship)
Michael “The Count” Bisping (Champion) vs Dan “Hendo” Henderson (13th) (185lbs middleweight)
Preview: Michael Bisping winning the Middleweight championship against Luke Rockhold, may have been one of the most rewarding title fights for any fan of the sport. Everyone knows how hard Bisping has fought throughout his career to get his hands on a title. However, it looked like he would always just fall short of holding a belt until he shocked Luke Rockhold to capture the middleweight championship. On paper it looks like the UFC is doing him a favor in giving him the 13th ranked Dan Henderson for his first title defense in his home country of England. Most experts would agree that while Bisping earned his belt, he could easily lose it to just about anyone in the top 5 of the division. Thus, giving him Dan Henderson looks like a gift from the UFC. That is until you remember how devastatingly Henderson knocked Bisping out when they met before 7 years ago. It was such a nasty knockout, Dan Henderson made the silhouette of his last hammer fist his company’s logo, and is one of the top 10 most brutal UFC knockouts ever. So what’s changed besides age that may alter the course of this fight? Michael Bisping has completely changed his striking with a new coaching staff, which has helped transformed him into one of the best boxer and technical counter-punchers in the division. He did not have this skill set when he fought Henderson the first time. Bisping’s power has never overwhelmed guys, but his technical striking has improved to a point where he now batters opponents with combinations hurting them over the course of the fight. Dan Henderson knows this is the end of his career, the MMA legend has nothing left to prove and will one day be a Hall of Fame fighter. Very rarely do fighters get to leave on their own terms at the height of the sport, a final victory and capturing of the UFC middleweight belt would be the storybook ending for Henderson’s career if he chose to retire afterward. Henderson knows Bisping will have size and speed advantages against him. However, Henderson’s monster power in both hands will give him the confidence he can knockout Bisping more time.
Odds: (Bisping -235) vs (Henderson +190)
Prediction: Many people are claiming you can’t take a fight from 7 years ago, and use it to determine what will happen in the rematch. I disagree with that claim. Yes, there is a significant amount of time between fights, and that Bisping is not the same fighter, while Dan Henderson is. However, I still have a hard time rationally picking a different result from their first meeting. Dan Henderson isn’t a different fighter, because he did not need to become one to keep competing in the UFC. Michael Bisping was getting run over by tougher competition, and so he adjusted and got better. Now that is a credit to Bisping, but he can’t change his chin or the knowledge that the man he’s about to face nearly punched his face off in their last fight. The fan in me is rooting for both of these guys, as they deserve everything they’ve earned in this sport. However, I can’t pass up getting nearly 2-1 value on the guy who won the first matchup in such impressive fashion. Very rarely does the loser of the first fight get knocked out, and win the rematch. I don’t think that trend changes tonight. (Dan Henderson (+190) via Knockout)
Prediction Record Year to Date (14-13-0) (-$128)
-Record & predictions based on Win vs Loss predictions only. Unless specified otherwise I use increments of $100 (for + odds predictions) & $110 (for – odds bets) as hypothetical wagers for each prediction.
-Predictions & Records are for entertainment value only
*Stats via www.UFC.com