UFC 204 takes place in Manchester, England on Saturday night and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights for you below.
Michael Bisping vs. Dan Henderson
It’s been clear for some time that hanging up his gloves was the only sensible option for the 46 year-old Henderson. He’s only won three of his last nine fights, his movement has become increasingly more labored as time has gone on, but most troublingly, his legendary chin has finally given way.
For a man who went almost 15 years without ever losing to strikes, the fact that Henderson has now suffered two KO’s at the hands of feet of Vitor Belfort and a first round TKO loss to Gegard Mousasi illustrates his decline, but it’s the fact that in practically every fight he’s in nowadays he gets dropped at some stage that’s most concerning.
For a long time Henderson didn’t seem troubled by this, but the fact that even he wanted to retire after his last fight, and after being handed this golden title fight opportunity has confirmed that he’ll walk away from the sport, win or lose, doesn’t inspire confidence heading into this match-up.
Still, Bisping is not a renowned KO puncher, and his chin is vulnerable too, as Hendo has proven in the past. Power is the last thing to go, so if Henderson can detonate another ‘H-Bomb’ on his rivals chin then that will be game over, and he’s shown that he’s capable of doing that even when he’s hurt himself, so this is by no means a walk in the park for ‘The Count’.
Bisping looked especially nervy against Henderson back at UFC 100 and continually circled towards his opponent’s power hand. It’s hard to imagine he’ll make that mistake again, and his vastly superior movement and speed, higher workrate, better cardio and technical, high-volume striking are on paper the perfect weapons with which to dismantle the aging Henderson.
I don’t see Bisping knocking out Henderson with a single shot, but just as he was able to drop Anderson Silva when they fought, I think his offensive output will eventually take a toll, and allow him to swarm on the veteran mid-way through the fight for a TKO stoppage victory.
Michael Bisping to win by TKO in Rd3
Vitor Belfort vs. Gegard Mousasi
Belfort is another fighter like Henderson who has been in the game for an extremely long time and is now seeing the effect of all those wars catch up to him, particularly in the post-TRT era.
Belfort still possesses dangerous offensive weapons, but he runs out of steam relatively quickly and doesn’t have the same resistance to strikes as he used to, as shown in the first round TKO losses he’s suffered in two of his last three fights.
Mousasi is a high-level technical striker himself who is very capable both offensively and defensively, can also take care of business on the mat too if required, takes a shot well and has the cardio to pose ‘The Phenom’ some serious problems the further the fight goes.
I’d expect to see Belfort attempt to start strongly, but struggle to breach Mousasi’s defenses, and then suffer in the later rounds as Mousasi begins to pick him apart and finishes him with strikes before the final bell.
Gegard Mousasi to win by TKO in Rd3.
Jimi Manuwa vs. Ovince Saint Preux
Interesting fight here. Manuwa is the more explosive, hard-hitting, dynamic striker who can make opponents crumble under violent combination striking, but he has a ‘Live by the sword, die by the sword’ style that’s not worked out so well of late, with two losses due to strikes in his last three Octagon outings.
OSP isn’t as aggressive, preferring to work from range and pick his moments to engage, but he’s a very good athlete and can hit with big power in the blink of an eye. He should have the wrestling advantage too, though he prefers to stand.
I’m a little hesitant on this pick, but I slightly favor Manuwa’s pressure game to win out here, closing the distance and unleashing hurtful combos with the home crowd cheering him on, which should catch the judges eyes and lead to a decision victory, if not a stoppage.
Jimi Manuwa to win by decision.
Daniel Omielanczuk vs. Stefan Struve
Struve has almost a full foot in height over Omielanczuk for this heavyweight encounter, but despite his physical advantages, the Dutchman doesn’t always make the best use of that.
Omielanczuk is primarily a striker and he does some of his best work at close range, and that may well be possible in this fight despit the size discrepency as Struve doesn’t dictate distance well.
While that could pose problems for Struve, I think he may well look to use his BJJ skills to put the more limited Omielanczuk in trouble on the mat, leading to a submission in the second round.
Stefan Struve to win by submission in Rd2.
Mirsad Bektic vs. Russell Doane
Bektic’s original opponent pulled out on short notice, so Doane steps in as the late replacement just four days out from fight night.
Bektic is a real talent with three wins in a row to his name, while Doane is barely clinging on to a spot on the roster following a trio of losses.
The only good news for Doane is that Bektic has been out for a year and a half, but nonetheless, the Bosnian fighter just has too much for Doane on the mat, especially having had no time to prepare, and I’d expect him to get stopped inside the distance.
Mirsad Bektic to win by TKO in Rd2.
Prelims: (Predicted winners in bold)
Iuri Alcantara vs. Brad Pickett
Ian Entwistle vs. Rob Font
Davey Grant vs. Damian Stasiak
Leon Edwards vs. Albert Tumenov
Danny Roberts vs. Mike Perry
Adriano Martins vs. Leonardo Santos
Marc Diakese vs. Lukasz Sajewski