CURRENT RECORD 112-58-2
UFC 204 is almost here, Middleweight champion Michael Bisping makes his first title defence in front of a sold out hometown crowd against his arch-rival, MMA legend Dan Henderson. For seven years Bisping has being trying to erase the memories of UFC 100 when Dan Henderson’s vicious haymaker knocked him unconscious, on Saturday in Manchester, with the belt on the line, he finally gets that chance. Henderson has been around the sport for the nearly 20 years, previously winning titles in Pride and Strikeforce but the one that has always eluded him was a UFC belt. Win or lose on Saturday, Hendo says he will finally hang up his gloves for good. At the age of 46, could the veteran shock the hometown crowd and the watching world and retire as a champion? In the co-main event, two of the finest middleweights in the business clash as Victor Belfort comes up against Gegard Mousasi, with the winner of this contest potentially claiming the number one contender spot. Elsewhere on the card, in the light-heavyweight division; Ovince Saint Preux battles the “Poster Boy” Jimi Manuwa, undefeated featherweight Mirsad Bektic takes on Russell Doane, Brad “One Punch” Pickett fights Iuri Alcantara and Marc Diakiese makes his UFC debut against Lukasz Sajewski. This is one of the finest cards to ever hit Europe, and although the start time is suited for American Pay Per View, this will be a night of fights not to be missed.
As always, I will now break down all the main card fights, give my predictions and of course put my own “Armchair Expert” title on the line.
MICHAEL BISPING vs. DAN HENDERSON
When these pair first met at UFC 100, with Hendo sending Bisping to sleep, no one could have predicted seven years later that they would be fighting again; this time for the middleweight strap. Bisping has been a mainstay in the UFC, always on the cusp of a title shot but each time falling at the final hurdle, until everything changed when he knocked out Luke Rockhold at UFC 199. Bisping has been granted his wish; his first title defence in his hometown and the chance to bury his demons. Dan Henderson is destined for the Hall of Fame, a 46 fight veteran who fought at four different weight classes; welterweight to heavyweight and owner of one of the most violent haymakers in the world. This fight has all the ingredients to be electric; two fighters who press forward, a bitter rematch, a crowd that will be tanked up on alcohol at 5 o clock in the morning but it’s all those elements that make me fear for Bisping. Everyone seems to think this will be an easy win for “The Count” but my fear is Bisping will want to impress the crowd by coming out swinging and looking to take Hendo’s head off but end up getting caught with another “H-Bomb”. There’s no disputing Hendo has been on a slide for the past three years (losing six and winning just three) but for a man who has fighting in his blood, who in his final ever fight gets a chance to retire as champion, his previous fights count for nothing. Maybe it’s sentiment, I’ve long been a fan of Hendo, I’ve also never been one to shy away from sticking my neck on the line, so I’m going for a crowd silencing KO win for Dan Henderson.
Henderson by KO.
VITOR BELFORT vs. GEGARD MOUSASI
This will be a battle of two of the greats of the sport, between them they have fought 84 times with a combined total of 64 victories. Belfort is a former light-heavyweight champion who in his prime knocked people out for fun. Since the banning of TRT Belfort’s performances have begun to slow and his worn, torn body has started to show. Despite this “The Phenom” is still a dangerous opponent for any contender. Gegard Mousasi is one of the most exciting fighters on the planet, from his 39 victories, only 7 have gone the distance, he is an exceptional kick boxer with a slick ground game to match and when he fights, he is always looking for the early finish. Mousasi is 8 years younger and holds a slight reach advantage, his chin is also less weathered than Belfort’s, so I expect nothing less than a dominant and (most likely) an early knockout victory for Mousasi.
Mousasi by KO.
OVINCE SAINT PREUX vs. JIMI MANUWA
London’s Jimi “Poster Boy” Manuwa makes his return from a year long absence and will have his hands full when taking on dangerous striker OSP. Manuwa is a huge specimen with genuine knockout power; 13 of his 15 victories have come by knockout, 10 of which never even left the first round. OSP comes here on the back of a loss to Jon Jones at UFC 197; a fight he took on short notice and despite breaking his arm midway through the second round, he continued to fight and take Jones the distance. Now back to full health, OSP will be aiming for a big performance to continue his rise in the rankings. Both these fighters are skilled strikers, who work best when going toe to toe with an opponent, their styles should suit one another but the one thing separating them is OSP’s superiority on the ground. If OSP doesn’t win the exchanges on his feet, he has the ability to take the fight to the mat and end it there. On his day, Jimi Manuwa could KO most but I think he is too stagnated and that will play into the more well-rounded hands of OSP. An exciting contest but OSP should do enough to get the nod from the judges.
Saint Preux by decision.
STEFAN STRUVE vs. DANIEL OMIELANCZUK
Onto the heavyweight division and seven foot tall Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve takes on Polish submission machine Daniel Omielanczuk in what should make for an intriguing battle of the Europeans. Struve is one of only two people to hold a victory over current heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and the first to beat him by TKO. In his most recent bout he KO’d “Bigfoot” Silva in 16 seconds. On paper Struve sounds like the perfect fighter but he often naïvely leaves his chin exposed, having said that, he has shown great improvements in his whole game since recovering from illness in 2015. Struve’s opponent on Saturday night will be Polish submission artist Daniel Omielanczuk, the “Polish Bear” is currently on a three fight win streak and in his last outing, he defeated Oleksiy Oliynyk but never impressed doing so. Omielanczuk loves to take an opponent down and beat him up but he will have a difficult time doing this against the long limbs of Struve, who is extremely dangerous working off his back. If Struve continues his improvement, he could boss this fight from start to finish, with a 6 inch reach advantage he should be able to withstand Omielanczuk’s attacks and pick him off from range. Omielanczuk has never been finished and I wouldn’t be surprised if Struve became the first to make him tap.
Struve by submission.
MIRSAD BEKTIC vs. RUSSELL DOANE
Mirsad Bektic has had two opponents pull out through injury recently and finally Russell Doane steps up to the plate on five days’ notice to take on the undefeated Bosnian. Bektic has gradually been growing from strength to strength with each fight and has started to looked like a future title contender, Bektic hasn’t fought in over a year due to injury but he will be aiming to display his dominance yet again. Taking any fight on short notice is risky business but jumping up a weight class too, makes this already difficult task even harder. Russell Doane will need to be at the best of his abilities to have a chance here; losing his last three fights won’t help his confidence but the brave Hawaiian will trust his skills to cause an upset. Doane is a powerful puncher but I don’t think he will get the chance to connect as the speed and versatility of Bektic will overwhelm him. Bektic should dominate from the go and add another ‘W’ to his unblemished record.
Bektic by decision.
Best of the Rest.
Iuri Alcantara vs. Brad Pickett
Pickett to win.
Ian Entwistle vs. Rob Font
Font to win.
Damian Stasiak vs. Davey Grant
Grant to win.
Leon Edwards vs. Albert Tumenov
Tumenov to win.
Danny Roberts vs. Mike Perry
Perry to win.
Leonardo Santos vs. Adriano Martins
Martins to win.
Lukasz Sajewski vs. Marc Diakiese
Diakiese to win.
Bet of the Day.
The adventurous bet: all 12 predictions in an accumulator is about 290/1.
The conservative bet: Dan Henderson to win by KO is 3/1.
Don’t forget to keep updated on all things “Ultimate Fight Chat” by liking and following all the links on the homepage.
And remember “Ultimate Fight Chat- A Guide to Becoming an Armchair Expert” is FREE to download from here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/645687