UFC 204 will be held in Manchester, England, and it is promising to give fans that intense America vs. UK vibe, as Manchester’s own, Michael Bisping, will look to defend his Middleweight title against MMA’s ageless wonder, Dan Henderson. For Bisping, this will be a great opportunity to avenge his brutal KO loss to Henderson back in 2009.
Will the champ have a successful first title defense, or will the retirement-bound challenger ride off into the sunset with a championship belt? Read on below to know more! We’ll also talk about the thrilling undercards, as it features the likes of Vitor Belfort, Gegard Mousasi, and Ovince St. Preux.
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UFC 204: Bisping vs. Henderson 2 Main Card Preview
Main Event (For the UFC Middleweight Championship)
Michael Bisping (c) (-250) vs. Dan Henderson (+190)
Why Henderson will win: The man is 46 freakin’ years old and he’s still fighting at a high level, a level where he is deserving of a title shot like this one. That right there is all you need.
This rematch will be more like their first battle, a lot of standing up and very little ground game, if none at all, and striking is where I believe Hendo can edge out the champ. Also, along with being a bonafide knockout artist, he’s also one of the most durable fighters ever, as evidenced in his remarkable longevity in the sport.
If Bisping makes the mistakes he made in their previous fight, such as poor defensive stance and circling towards Henderson’s right hand bomb, he can say goodbye to his belt.
Why Bisping will win: Heading into the fight, “The Count” has all the momentum in the world. He’s not only on a confidence-boosting four-fight winning streak, he’ll also have a whole arena behind him. Bisping is about as fearless as anyone in the octagon; a guy that simply doesn’t give a damn, and would always look to outlast opponents in striking.
Against Luke Rockhold last June, though, Bisping mixed that fearlessness with better fundamentals. He contained Rockhold’s attacks and created distance by being patient and effectively countering with easy jabs and kicks, before setting him up with a fist to the sternum and angling a big straight to the jaw. Should Bisping bring those fundamentals this Sunday, he’ll be able to retain and leave Hendo with an unpleasant retirement.
Writer’s Prediction: Hendo (+190) wins a bloody five-round war.
Middleweight: Vitor Belfort (+270) vs. Gegard Mousasi (-350)
Why Belfort will win: Vitor Belfort is like that classic “run and gun” team in sports. He has great defense, but his best defense is his offense… tons of it.
The offensive repertoire Gegard Mousasi will have to deal with can make his head spin, figuratively and literally. Belfort is sure to bring that insanely quick hands and punching power, particularly in the early rounds, where he is always quite dangerous. Mousasi should also watch out for “The Phenom’s” ability to greatly disguise the head kick with simple jabs, something that previous Belfort opponents failed to do so.
Why Mousasi will win: Mousasi is a polar opposite of Belfort when it comes to fighting style. His patience and attention for balance and timing is a perfect counter to his opponent’s aggressiveness. The fights with Dan Henderson, Costas Philippou, and Thiago Santos are some good samples. It’s a reason why this one is very “Match of the Night” material.
If Mousasi efficiently manages his range, which he usually does, and counter the way he countered in his past wins, he’ll be able to put Belfort away.
Writer’s Prediction: Mousasi (-350) will outlast Belfort.
Light Heavyweight: Ovince St. Preux (-150) vs. Jimi Manuwa (+120)
Why St. Preux will win: Styles make fights, and this Ovince St. Preux and Jimi Manuwa match can very well prove it further. The two are identical in their physical attributes and both have scary striking power, but OSP might have a slight advantage in that.
Should OSP win, it will likely be because of his reckless and oblique attacks that can be hard to predict. He is also very smart in using his athleticism and great instincts, which were seen in his KO win over Patrick Cummins and last-minute submission loss to Glover Teixera.
Why Manuwa will win: As he rose to a 14-0 MMA record in late 2013, Manuwa became one of the most intriguing up-and-comers in the light heavyweight division, but TKO losses to Alexander Gustaffson and Anthony Johnson, two of the division’s biggest names, brought him several notches down. This fight with OSP can bring him up once again.
For him to get this win, he will need to be patient. The more offense-minded OSP will likely be the early aggressor in the fight, and Manuwa should wait and counter the attacks with his superior kickboxing abilities and/or timely set-ups, as well as his top-notch jiu-jitsu.
Like Bisping, the English Manuwa will have a bulk of the crowd on his side.
Writer’s Prediction: It’ll be a brawl and OSP (-150) wins via unanimous decision.
Heavyweight: Stefan Struve (-160) vs. Daniel Omielanczuk (+130)
Why Struve will win: Stefan Struve has had a rather underwhelming MMA career. His 27-8 record looks decent but he’s actually 11-6 in the UFC. It simply doesn’t fit a fighter who towers above his opponent and also has a black belt in kickboxing and brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
The seven-footer will win if he capitalizes on his 14.5-inch reach advantage and uses his striking abilities intelligently. His glass jaw is perfect for Omielanczuk, who doesn’t exactly have strong punching power, but he’ll have to watch out for the submission attempts (nine of Omielanczuk’s 19 wins are via submission).
Why Omielanczuk will win: With that aforementioned reach advantage, it is obviously ideal for Omielanczuk to keep the correct distance and be very smart in his takedown attempts. He should know that his best chance at winning is going to the ground and testing Struve’s ground game.
Writer’s Prediction: Struve (-160) wins via unanimous decision.
Featherweight: Mirsad Bektic (-800) vs. Russell Doane (+500)
Why Bektic will win: The very talented Mirsad Bektic is back after being out with an ACL injury for almost a year and a half. He will look to continue showing off his exceptional athleticism, strength, speed, and striking power. There’s also no questioning his smooth technique and understanding of how to maximize all of those abilities.
In facing the Russell Doane, who’s free-falling in the Featherweight rankings, Bektic should have no problem showcasing the said skills. He is the far better overall fighter.
Why Doane will win: Russell Doane is currently on a three-fight losing streaking, but is said to have improved a lot of his fighting style. He has now adapted Gracie Technics teammate Max Holloway’s southpaw stance and has worked diligently in his overall offense and defense. Doane is also known to be generally quick and athletic, and he’ll look to match that with Bektic’s.
For this heavy underdog to beat the odds, he may have to rely on his submission game, the biggest strength of his game. As seen in some of his previous fights, he can also do a strong double-leg takedown, which is a good match for his wrestling.
Writer’s Prediction: Bektic (-800) wins via TKO/KO.
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