WATCH: TOMMY TOE HOLD FULL FIGHT CARD BREAKDOWN
The UFC doesn’t normally hold pay-per-views in Europe, but this weekend’s card is one of those rare instances. Manchester, England’s own Michael Bisping will be defending his UFC middleweight title against Dan Henderson, the man who famously KO’d him at UFC 100. Bisping will be looking to avenge that defeat and do what Stipe Miocic did last month, which is defend his UFC title in front of his home fans.
As we draw closer to fight night in Manchester, let’s take a look at some of the fighters on the card who could come through with massive performances and produce high scores for your DraftKings lineup(s). A reminder for new and regular players that DraftKings has updated its scoring system for MMA, so click here to familiarize yourself with the new rules.
Michael Bisping ($9,100) vs. Dan Henderson
Bisping shocked the MMA world by coming in on short notice to knock Luke Rockhold off the UFC middleweight throne. It capped off one of the most unlikely and otherwise highly inspiring road to the title for a man who was always deemed to be very good, but never quite good enough to be a champion. As for Dan Henderson, this fight will apparently be his final one, and a UFC title fight at 46 is one heck of a way to cap off a legendary career. On the Bisping/Rockhold 2 undercard, Henderson rallied from an early knockdown to KO Hector Lombard with a phenomenal head kick and an elbow. It was the last fight of his UFC deal, but he’s re-upped for one more shot at the belt.
I know that Bisping was H-Bomb’d back in 2009, but 2016 Bisping is vastly improved from 2009 Bisping. Henderson is still dangerous offensively, but it’s fairly predictable, his chin has become increasingly more fragile, and he’s not won consecutive fights in 5 years. Bisping can win this through volume striking, ground-and-pound with his underrated takedowns, and another knockout win for “The Count” is very much in the cards.
Number of Note: 80. Michael Bisping has averaged 80 landed significant strikes during his 4 fight winning streak. The average was lowered by Bisping stopping Rockhold in round 1, but make no mistake about it, when Bisping wins, he puts up plenty of significant strikes.
Gegard Mousasi ($9,400) vs. Vitor Belfort
Mousasi has been calling for a fight with Belfort for quite some time, and he’s finally getting it. The former Strikeforce and DREAM champion recently knocked out Thiago Santos at UFC 200, which is his 3rd opening round finish inside the Octagon. Belfort quickly took out Dan Henderson (again) in November 2015, but looked close to helpless at UFC 198, as Jacare Souza ruthlessly beat him up for the 1st round TKO loss.
While Mousasi has been prone to upset losses before (see: Hall, Uriah), I think we’ve reached the point where Vitor is firmly on the downside of his career. If he can’t win early, he can’t win the fight. Mousasi is dangerous standing and on the mat, and I think we’ll see Gegard put “The Phenom” on his back and get a TKO or a submission.
Number of Note: 13. Belfort has not gone the distance in his last 13 fights, of which he’s managed a record of 9-4. The Jon Jones loss is the only time he’s been out of round 2 in that same timespan, so he either finishes quickly or gets finished quickly.
Jimi Manuwa ($7,800) vs. Ovince Saint Preux
OSP put in a respectable short-notice shift against Jon Jones, but obviously was nowhere close to victory. The former college football player has won 7 of 10 UFC fights, including 5 finishes. Manuwa has lost 2 of his last 3, although there’s no shame in falling to Anthony Johnson and Alexander Gustafsson. Sandwiched in between those defeats is a decision win vs. Jan Blachowicz.
While Manuwa has dangerous striking and KO power, he’s never beaten any serious top 10 competition, which OSP is. OSP has the more diverse skillset, including good submissions and one-punch KO abilities. That said, I think I like Manuwa for the upset. He’s good value at $7,800, OSP is not known as a takedown machine, and that plays into Manuwa’s hands. Jimi’s hard kicks could pose major problems for OSP, who was susceptible to that in round 1 against Rafael Feijao.
Number of Note: 1. Manuwa has only won 1 fight by decision (and it’s the only time he’s gone the distance, win or lose), while Saint Preux has only 1 career loss by KO or TKO, which was to Virgil Zwicker way back in 2009.
Mirsad Bektic ($9,700) vs. Russell Doane
Bektic is competing for the first time since May 2015, when he TKO’d Lucas Martins in Brazil. At 10-0, he’s one of the most talented prospects in the supremely talented 145 lbs division. A torn ACL has otherwise been the cause of his inactivity. Doane is a last-minute injury replacement and is moving up from bantamweight to take this fight. He’s lost 3 in a row, including a guillotine choke vs. Pedro Munhoz in his last outing, although Doane had looked sharp leading up to the finish.
We could see some ring/cage rust from Mirsad, but the signs point to a dominant win for Bektic. He’s a special talent and his blend of striking, diverse wrestling, and vicious ground-and-pound will be too much for Doane to handle. At $9,700, Bektic is the most expensive fighter on the card, but I think he’s going to show he’s very much worth the cost.
Number of Note: 58%. Bektic has taken his opponents down 7 of 12 times, which doesn’t bode well for Doane, who has been taken down at least twice in 4 of his 5 UFC fights.
Marc Diakiese ($9,000) vs. Lukasz Sajewski
Diakiese is one of those must-watch prospects who has serious potential to be a contender in the UFC. He’s making his Octagon debut as the BAMMA lightweight champion, and sports a 9-0 record, with all 5 of his finishes coming in the opening round. Sajewski is taking this fight on short notice, replacing an injured Reza Madadi. The native of Poland is 0-2 in his UFC career, losing a decision to Nick Hein in June 2015, then tapping to a Gilbert Burns armbar in July 2016.
At just 23 years old, Diakiese looks like the real deal. Sajewski is only two years older, but so far he’s looked physically and athletically overmatched. Diakiese is good everywhere, but the KO power he’s shown in his BAMMA title fights is a real eye-opener. Look for Diakiese to keep the fight standing and record another early stoppage.
Number of Note: 60. Diakiese’s last two fights, knockouts of Kane Mousah and Rick Selvarajah, lasted a combined 60 seconds.
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