UFC 204 (October 8 at Manchester Arena in England) will see middleweight champ Michael Bisping get his long-awaited shot at redemption. “The Count” will face an aging but still dangerous Dan Henderson, the same man who dealt him a devastating one-punch KO back in 2009.
Before Bisping puts his belt on the line, fellow middleweights Vitor Belfort and Gegard Mousasi will finally step in the ring together. Rumors for this fight date back to 2009 – and an entirely different promotion. Now set to meet at UFC 204, the winner will climb back into the title shot discussion; the loser will become a middleweight afterthought.
I’ll leave the undercard for another day. Let’s take a closer look at the main event.
Michael “The Count” Bisping (-215) vs Dan “Hendo” Henderson (+175)
The 37-year-old Bisping (29-7, 16 KOs) finally reached the pinnacle of the middleweight division back in June when he KOed then-champ Luke Rockhold in the first round. The KO was his first stoppage since August 2014 and ran his overall win-streak to four. The well-rounded fighter can hold his own in any area of the ring, but doesn’t have that one-punch knockout power that so many others in the division possess.
If you clicked on that link above – or have watched any MMA highlight show in the last seven years – you know that Henderson (32-14, 16 KOs) is one such fighter. The former Olympic wrestler is just 3-6 dating back to 2013, but seven of his last eight wins have come via KO or TKO.
Henderson managed to get in the win column last time out (UFC 199 in June), finishing Hector Lombard in round two by landing a head kick and following up with some elbows. That followed on the heels of a bad loss to Vitor Belfort in the conclusion to their trilogy; “Hendo” was stopped just over a minute into round one, eating a head kick of his own.
At 45, Henderson’s best days are behind him. He’s hinted that this could be his last fight, and retirement is in the offing one way or another. He has an Olympic wrestling pedigree, but has never been content to rely on it, opting to stand and trade more often than not. Bisping is the quicker fighter with the more refined stand-up at this point in their careers. The Count also has a very solid ground game, so Henderson wouldn’t even find much competitive advantage on the mat. Unless Henderson lands another bomb, I don’t see how he wins this fight against a streaking Bisping. And I expect Bis to be on full alert for the power shot.
While the champ has been criticised by some for not taking a tougher fight in his first title defense, it’s understandable that he’d want to avenge the most devastating loss of his career before Henderson fades into retirement. That’s just what he’ll do, outpointing Henderson, especially as the fight goes into the championship rounds and the 45-year-old begins to feel his age.
Pick: Bisping (-215) by decision.
Photo credit: East718 [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], from Wikimedia Commons.