UFC 204 tips: Vets set for rough night in Manchester as Bisping comes home
The work rate of Britain's first ever champion should be too much for 46-year-old Dan Henderson to handle...
Michael Bisping v Dan Henderson
Britain’s first ever champion defends his title at home in Manchester against the man who knocked him out in brutal fashion at UFC 100 seven years ago.
Back then, though, Bisping was a victim of Henderson’s signature ‘H-bomb’ right hand, whereas the American is now 46 and well past his prime.
He has lost six of his last nine fights and even though he beat Hector Lombard in his most recent bout in June, he was almost knocked out in the first round.
Bisping, meanwhile, has enjoyed a resurgence of late with four straight wins, having taken the title from Luke Rockhold with just two weeks’ notice.
He is a more experienced, nuanced fighter than he was in the first fight between the pair, and will have learned to avoid the right hook that knocked him out back then.
His high-intensity style will prove too difficult for the American to handle and, considering Henderson’s last seven fights have ended by stoppage, it is hard to see this one going the distance.
The Mancunian should wear him down and earn a late knockout victory here, gaining revenge and ending Henderson’s hopes of retiring as middleweight champion.
Bisping to win by KO, TKO or DQ -
Vitor Belfort v Gegard Mousasi
Belfort might feel aggrieved to have been left out of the main event on this card, considering he has knocked out Bisping once and Henderson twice in his last six fights.
The Brazilian has suffered two defeats in his last three bouts, however, all of which have come since the UFC introduced a complete ban on testosterone replacement therapy.
Now 39 and no longer using TRT, Belfort is not the dominant force in the Octagon that he once was.
Mousasi is a dangerous striker with four wins in his last five fights and 20 career knockouts.
The Dutchman is the superior fighter both on his feet and on the ground at this point, so it seems that Belfort’s only chance is to score a stoppage early on.
Mousasi will be aware of that, and he is smart enough to stay out of range, remain patient and put his opponent away.
Just two of Belfort’s last 12 bouts have gone beyond the first round, and considering the punching power that both of these fighters possess, this one should be over quickly.
Mousasi to win in Round 1 -
Ovince Saint Preux v Jimi Manuwa
Both Saint Preux and Manuwa sit just below the top tier of light heavyweights, and their five combined defeats since 2014 have all come against top-five fighters in the division.
This could be the closest fight of the night, then, but Manuwa’s incredible kicking power means that it is he who holds a slight edge.
The Londoner should also benefit from fighting in his home country, where he has lost one of his 15 professional bouts.
Saint Preux is the superior wrestler, but he prefers to fight on his feet and that only plays to his opponent’s strengths.
Just one of Manuwa’s 15 victories have gone the distance, but this fight won’t necessarily be over quickly given that his last four – and Saint Preux’s last three – have lasted at least two rounds.
Manuwa to win by KO, TKO or DQ -
Stefan Struve v Daniel Omielanczuk
Dutch giant Struve can move back into the heavyweight division’s top 10 with a win over Omielanczuk on Saturday night.
The seven-footer shouldn’t have too many problems beating an opponent that lacks the striking power to trouble him.
Of Struve’s eight defeats, six have come by knockout, but Omielanczuk has only stopped his opponents with strikes on three occasions.
The Pole has racked up 26 wins in his career but has never faced an opponent of this calibre and, after knocking Antonio Silva out in his last fight, Struve should triumph again.
Struve to win -