UFC 204 PRIMER – Ecochard’s Preview & Predictions: Bisping vs. Henderson, Belfort vs. Mousasi, Manuwa vs. Saint Preux, Struve vs. Omielanczuk

By Matthew Ecochard, MMATorch contributor

The UFC’s next PPV is featured out of Manchester, U.K. and is headlined by the current Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping trying to avenge one of the most brutal knockouts suffered in UFC history against Dan Henderson. The following is a breakdown of the entire night of fights:

Fight Pass Early Prelims

Lukasz Sajewski (13-2) vs. Marc Diakiese (9-0) – Lightweight Bout:

Lukasz Sajewski looks to keep his UFC dreams alive here after going 0-2 to start his UFC career. He lost to both Nick Hein and Gilbert Burns which are solid tests, but he needs to come through strong here. He is a heavy submission artist and needs to take this fight to the ground in order to win this fight. Diakiese is a good boxer who is beating some pretty high level fighters in BAMMA. His ground game leaves something to be desired, but he should be good enough to keep this standing, at range and win his UFC debut.

Prediction: Marc Diakiese via TKO Round 1

Leonardo Santos (15-4-1) vs. Adriano Martins (28-7) – Lightweight Bout

This is a bout between two very talented lightweights. Santos has never lost in the UFC yet and Martins’ two losses are to Donald Cerrone and Francisco Trinaldo. Both men have great submission skills, being black belts in BJJ. The difference between these two is that Adrian Martins is the more decorated striker. Santos looked very sharp in his last bout on the feet again Kevin Lee, but Martins has consistently been the better man standing up.  Martins is definitely the stiffest test to date for Santos in the UFC and this is probably where he gets his first official loss in the company.

Prediction: Adriano Martins via Split Decision

Danny Roberts (13-1) vs. Mike Perry (8-0) – Welterweight Bout

The vicious striker Mike Perry will be looking to add another KO win to his already perfect knockout record when he takes on the near perfect Danny Roberts. Roberts has shown off some solid ground skills mixed in with good boxing. He beat the tough gritty Dominique Steele in a fight of the night last time out and is 2-0 in the UFC overall. Mike Perry looked like a semi-truck with his punches when he beat Hyun Gyu Lim in his UFC debut.  Perry hits harder than almost anyone in the 170 lbs. division by the looks of it. It’s hard to tell if Perry has any ground game, but it looks like his defensive wrestling is strong enough to keep it standing, which should mean he will land a shot eventually to finish this fight.

Prediction: Mike Perry via KO Round 2

Fox Sports 1 Prelims

Leon Edwards (11-3) vs. (#14) Albert Tumenov (17-3) – Welterweight Bout

Leon Edwards takes a step up in competition to challenge Albert Tumenov to try to break into the rankings. Edwards is a savvy kick-boxer that has struggled against strong wrestlers. Tumenov lost his most recent appearance to Gunnar Nelson, one of the best submission grapplers in the world. The striking of is really something of beauty, he fights quite differently than most fighters with a mix of boxing and hand-to-hand combat style he learned in Russia. This fight will almost certainly be a standup affair and should be an entertaining one at that. Look for the more experienced Tumenov to battle to a hard earned decision.

Prediction: Albert Tumenov via Unanimous Decision

Davey Grant (10-2) vs. Damian Stasiak (10-2) – Bantamweight Bout

Both of these fighters are 1-1 in their octagon careers thus far and are looking to break through the mold at 135 lbs. Davey Grant has almost all of his wins via rear-naked choke or guillotine choke, his tall frame at 135 allows for easier submissions. Damian Stasiak also has won most of his fights via submission so if this bout gets to the ground expect an entertaining grappling battle. They are both rudimentary stand up fighters so this fight might just be a pick ‘em. Grant is the more experienced grappler though and he should be able to pull off the finish.

Prediction: Davey Grant via Submission Round 2

Ian Entwistle (9-3) vs. Rob Font (12-2) – Bantamweight Bout:

Rob Font is a dangerous fighter with his Muay-Thai and BJJ skills, his boxing is impressive and he can certainly hang on the feet with most at bantamweight. Ian Entwistle is a submissions machine with heel hooks being one of his favorite techniques. If Font can keep the fight standing he will ultimately knock out Entwistle as he has shown a weak chin losing in 2 of 3 by TKO in the first. Rob Font should be too much on the feet for Entwistle to handle and it will be a quick night of work.

Prediction: Rob Font via TKO Round 1

Brad Pickett (26-11) vs. Iuri Alcantara (32-7, 1 NC) – Bantamweight Bout:

England’s own Brad Pickett is a gritty fighter who can always put on a crowd pleasing performance. Iuri Alcantara is a great all around fighter who mostly loses to the top of the division. If the fight stays standing Pickett can certainly win this bout via decision. Pickett will most likely be taken down by Alcantara at some point or be controlled against the cage. It should be an entertaining bout, but Pickett is in for a rough stylistic matchup on Saturday night.

Prediction: Iuri Alcantara via Split Decision

PPV Main Card

Mirsad Bektic (10-0) vs. Russell Doane (14-6) – Featherweight Bout:

Mirsad Bektic is finally getting an opponent with this 3rd and final change in Russell Doane. Doane was surprisingly not cut yet since his loss in July and is likely getting one last chance to stay in the organization. He has lost 3 straight, but has some decent BJJ skills. Bektic does some damage on his feet and has yet to be beaten. By beating Lucas Martins, Chas Skelly and Paul Redmond, Bektic has proven his worth in the UFC and is getting a body placed in front of him to put on a performance in England.

Prediction: Mirsad Bektic via Unanimous Decision

(#12) Stefan Struve (31-8) vs. (#14) Daniel Omielanczuk (19-5-1, 1 NC) – Heavyweight Bout:

The “Skyscraper” Stefan Struve looks to continue his rise into the top 10 against fellow ranked fighter Daniel Omielanczuk. Struve is a massive fighter at 7 feet tall and uses his body well to keep distance or work his opponents over in the clinch. Struve is also pretty savvy on the ground with the majority of his wins stemming from submissions. Omielanczuk is starting to gather traction with a 3 fight winning streak into this bout. Omielanczuk doesn’t particularly stand out anywhere, but he isn’t horrible anywhere either. He has just barely scraped by in his last two victories however, so he will most likely struggle against a man of Struve’s talents.

Prediction: Stefan Struve via Unanimous Decision

(#5) Ovince Saint Preux (19-8) vs. (#8) Jimi Manuwa (13-3) – Light Heavyweight Bout:

Both of these men have only lost to the elite at 205 lbs. OSP has losses to Ryan Bader, Glover Teixeira and most recently went the distance against Jon Jones. Jimi Manuwa’s two losses have been against Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson. Ovince Saint Preux is a dangerous fighter who is well rounded in all aspects of the game and can finish on the feet or on the ground. Jimi Manuwa fists are his best weapons, with heavy hands and a good boxing game he needs to keep this fight standing to get the victory. OSP’s experience going five rounds against Jon Jones should give him plenty of confidence heading into this bout and he will dictate where the fight goes and how it ends.

Prediction: Ovince Saint Preux via TKO Round 2

(#5) Vitor Belfort (25-12) vs. (#9) Gegard Mousasi (39-6-2) – Middleweight Bout:

Belfort looks to get back on track and stay relevant against the all-around veteran fighter Gegard Mousasi. Belfort’s most recent losses to Jon Jones, Chris Weidman and Ronaldo Souza make him look like he should still be a world beater. Belfort however was taking testosterone for a good portion of those runs where he was victorious against Luke Rockhold, Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson. Mousasi’s only losses in his UFC run have been to Lyoto Machida, Ronaldo Souza and Uriah Hall. He is very much an elite level fighter, with good stand up, better clinch game and even better wrestling and submissions. The story of this fight will be Belfort coming out like a man on fire in the first round, and when Mousasi survives the storm he will find a finish himself.

Prediction: Gegard Mousasi via Submission Round 2

(C) Michael Bisping (30-7) vs. (#13) Dan Henderson (32-14) – Middleweight Championship Main Event (5 Rounds):

This is a rematch of their fight at UFC 100 in 2009, so that fight is not so relevant to their fight in 2016, but in case you didn’t know, Bisping got knocked out, bad. Since then they are two different fighters. Bisping has grown incredibly and is on a four fight win streak, looking the best he has in his career. Dan Henderson 46 years old and is 2-3 in his last five, and only on a one fight winning streak into this title fight. Henderson is incredibly dangerous and always will be with his big overhand shot.

Bisping is the more technical fighter here and moves very well. To see how much he can learn in between some fights look at his two fights with Rockhold. In their first, Rockhold was the better man with his movement and Bisping couldn’t crack the code. In their second fight, Rockhold tried to do the same thing as the first one, but Bisping adapted and caught Rockhold being cocky. Bisping’s clinch game and wrestling are good compliments to his crisp boxing skills that have allowed him to improve with age.

Dan Henderson is very much done with his career; he even stated that win or lose, this is his last fight. His chin has left him for the most part, but if the referee gives him the opportunity, he can recover and has shown so in the past. His wrestling is still good after all these years, but may not be elite. His best chance is to land his overhand on Bisping’s chin and it will be lights out for him. There is a very real chance for that to happen in this fight and Dan Henderson would complete his journey as a mixed martial artist. Michael Bisping should just be too good for him on Saturday, however, and Henderson will likely be finished in the 2nd or 3rd by strikes.

Prediction: Michael Bisping via TKO Round 2

(Matthew Ecochard of New Jersey contributes fight card preview articles to MMATorch. He became fascinated watching MMA starting with UFC 111: St. Pierre vs. Hardy and hasn’t missed an event since. UFC, Bellator, Invicta FC, and more, he watches as many MMA events as possible. He is an environmentalist when he’s not overly-obsessed with watching MMA or WWE.)

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