The UFC heads to Manchester, England this weekend for UFC 204, which takes place Saturday night at Manchester England. The main event features Manchester’s golden boy, Michael Bisping, making his first title defense against his arch-rival Dan Henderson in what should be an explosive main event. As well, there are a number of other English fighters on the prelims, making this a fun fight card overall for the U.K. fans.
Here are the top-five things to watch for at UFC 204.
1) Bisping Makes First Title Defense in Hometown Of Manchester
In arguably the biggest upset of the year, Michael Bisping knocked out Luke Rockhold in the main event of UFC 199 to win the UFC middleweight championship. Considering Bisping had already been finished by Rockhold, as well as the fact he took the fight on two weeks’ notice, seeing Bisping win the UFC belt was absolutely stunning. Now, in his first title defense, the UFC has booked Michael Bisping ($9,100) against Dan Henderson ($7,100), the man who knocked Bisping out cold back at UFC 100 in one of the sport’s greatest all-time KOs.
Bisping is the favorite this time around, but there’s no doubt this is a dangerous fight for him. At the same time, he is the younger fighter, and he will have the benefit of fighting in his hometown of Manchester, England. It all adds up to what should be a fantastic main event in the first Pay-Per-View to take place in Europe in years.
2) Henderson Tries to Win UFC Gold
On the flipside, Henderson looks to win his first UFC title in the final fight of his storied, incredible, Hall of Fame career. Now 46 years old, Henderson won both the welterweight and middleweight titles back in PRIDE, as well as the light heavyweight belt in Strikeforce, but UFC gold has always eluded him. In the last fight of his career, perhaps the stars have aligned for him to win the belt and retire going out on top. Sure, he doesn’t deserve the title shot over guys like Chris Weidman, Yoel Romero, and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, but the UFC is doing Henderson a solid here.
They’re giving him the chance to make history as the first UFC/PRIDE/Strikeforce champ, and with Henderson coming off of an amazing knockout win over Hector Lombard — plus his well-documented history with Bisping — it’s hard to complain about him getting this title shot as a “thank you” for everything he’s done in his career. If he wins, maybe he will reconsider hanging up his gloves, but facing the younger Bisping, he certainly has an uphill fight to climb. At the same time, you can never count out Henderson and his trademark “H-Bomb.”
3) Belfort takes on Mousasi in Middleweight Co-Main Event
In the co-main event, middleweight contenders Vitor Belfort ($6,800) and Gegard Mousasi ($9,400) clash in what promises to be an action-packed fight. Belfort, the former UFC light heavyweight champion, was knocked out by Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in his last outing, but is 4-2 in his last six outings including knockout wins over Luke Rockhold, Michael Bisping and two knockout wins over the aforementioned Henderson. Belfort is now 39 and his chin is clearly fading, having been knocked out in two of his last three fights, but he’s still one of the most dangerous strikers in MMA history.
As for Mousasi, the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion is 4-1 over his last five fights, with a brutal knockout win over Thiago Santos in his last fight. His surprising knockout loss to Uriah Hall aside, Mousasi has looked like a legitimate title contender the last few years, and an impressive win over Belfort would help him move closer to getting a title shot at 185lbs. With the power both of these fighters possess, it’s hard to see this fight lasting the full three rounds.
4) Tumenov, Edwards Meet in Striker’s Delight
Two of the best strikers in the UFC welterweight division meet on the preliminary card as Albert Tumenov ($9,200) takes on Leon Edwards ($7,000). The Russian Tumenov recently had his five-fight winning streak snapped by Gunnar Nelson, but with a 5-2 record in the UFC, including three wins by knockout, it’s clear he’s dangerous. He has some of the best head kicks in the business and his boxing is also top-notch, making him one of the best strikers at 170lbs.
Edwards, a Brit, isn’t as well known, but he’s 3-2 in the UFC and has shown some really good striking in his own right, including in his eight-second knockout win over Seth Baczynski last year. Both Tumenov and Edwards rarely shoot for takedowns and instead enjoy standing and banging for the fans’ pleasure, making this an exciting matchup on paper and a possible “Fight of the Night” candidate when it’s all said and done.
5) Underrated Lightweights Compete On Fight Pass
One of the best fights on the whole card is a lightweight bout between Leonardo Santos ($7,600) and Adriano Martins ($8,600), which takes place on the Fight Pass prelims. For whatever reason, the UFC has decided this fight be buried on the prelims, and I’m not quite sure why because it’s a fantastic matchup between two extremely talented lightweights. Santos, The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 2 winner, has looked incredible in the UFC, going 4-0-1 overall in five fights inside the Octagon, including a huge upset knockout win over Kevin Lee in his last fight at UFC 194. He is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu wizard, but as he showed against Lee, his striking has really improved over the years, making him a dangerous darkhorse contender going forward.
Much of the same can be said of Martins, who is 4-1 in the UFC with his only loss coming to Donald Cerrone. Like Santos, Martins comes from a BJJ background, but his striking has looked incredible in the UFC and he has shown he has power, knocking out two of his last three opponents. The UFC lightweight division is extremely stacked, but both Santos and Martins have the chance to make a run for the top-10, and it all starts with an impressive win at UFC 204. Don’t miss this fight, it’s going to be a good one.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is MMAdamMartin) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.