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

UFC 204 comes to Manchester, England as their hometown hero Michael Bisping comes home to take on Dan Henderson in the main event. Bisping will look to avenge the knockout he suffered to Henderson at UFC 100. The stakes are high for Michael Bisping. He’s fighting in front of his own fans, on his turf. Bisping also wants to prove his shocking knockout of Luke Rockhold wasn’t a fluke.

As for Dan Henderson, he’s stepping into the Octagon as an active fighter for the last time on Saturday night. He has made it clear that after the fight, win or lose, he is hanging up the gloves. Henderson’s accomplishments include winning a UFC tournament at UFC 17, winning a Rings King of Kings tournament, holding titles in two different Pride FC weight classes, and holding the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Title. He’s never held the UFC Middleweight Title.

The co-main event pits two MMA veterans as Vitor Belfort goes up against Gegard Mousasi. The winner of this fight gets himself in line for a future no. 1 contender fight.

The card rounds with Ovince Saint Preux vs. Jim Manuwa in what should be a highly entertaining light heavyweight bout, Stefan Struve vs. Daniel Omielanczuk in a battle of heavyweights and Mirsad Bektic vs. Russell Doane.

Note: Check back here on Saturday night where I will be reporting live round by round coverage along with my viewpoints of UFC 204.

Main Card

Michael Bisping (30-7) vs. Dan Henderson (32-14) – Middleweight 185 lbs. | Current Line: Bisping -240, Henderson +190

Michael Bisping isn’t the same fighter he was back at UFC 100 when he was knocked out in spectacular fashion by Dan Henderson. When he says this isn’t a rematch, I get where he’s coming from. His striking is vastly improved as is his takedown defense. I have a feeling Bisping will come out and start throwing haymakers in an attempt to get Henderson out of there early and put on a good show. I think that would be a mistake. He should use his jab and superior foot work to keep Hendo at arm’s reach. At this point in their careers Bisping is the superior fighter so he should use those skills and wear Henderson down, and ultimately end the fight around round three.

Dan Henderson has the power to knock anyone in the middleweight division’s lights out. But, he also doesn’t have the granite chin he used to. Henderson lacks the cardio it takes to go the distance, so his best chance of winning is to land one his famed “Hendo Bombs” and end the fight early. Another opportunity would be to get the fight to the ground and try to use ground and pound to wear Bisping down. That scenario doesn’t seem likely, so I expect him to come out swinging for the fences and should he land an overhand right, you’ll see a new champion.

I’m rooting for Henderson to pull off the upset, but I’m not putting my hard earned money behind it. Strictly going with my heart here…

Pick: Henderson by TKO

Vitor Belfort (25-12) vs. Gegard Mousasi (39-6-2) – Middleweight 185 lbs. | Current Line: Mousasi -330, Belfort +260

I don’t expect this fight to be very competitive. Vitor clearly doesn’t physically look the way he did back in his TRT days. He also doesn’t possess the gas tank he used to, so if he doesn’t catch Mousasi with a shot in the first round his chances of winning drop considerably as the fight goes on. As long as Mousasi is able to fend off the flurry of punches Belfort is likely going to come out with, I think he finishes him in the second round.

Pick: Mousasi by TKO

Ovince Saint Preux (19-8) vs. Jimi Manuwa (15-2) – Light Heavyweight 205 lbs. | Current Line: Saint Preux -155, Manuwa +125

OSP is the better athlete and the better all-around fighter. He has heavy hands and his ground game is decent. OSP is also one tough SOB. Of his seven wins under the UFC banner, five were finishes. Manuwa is a very skilled, accurate striker with power. If Manuwa can keep the fight standing his chances of winning are better. Ovince would be wise to utilize his superior ground game but something tells me he’s going to want to stand and trade with Jimi. This could be a mistake as I think Jimi Manuwa comes into the fight as a live dog.

Pick: Manuwa by decision

Stefan Struve (31-8) vs. Daniel Omielanczuk (19-5-1) – Heavyweight 265 lbs. | Current Line: Struve +180, Omielanczuk +150

Omielanczuk is average at best and is facing his toughest test to date. Struve is an excellent striker and is more than capable on the ground. Struve will get the win here and look to get himself back into title contention.

Pick: Struve by submission

Mirsad Bektic (10-0) vs. Russell Doane (14-6) – Featherweight 145 lbs. | Current Line: Bektic -700, Doane +485

If this fight makes it past the first round I’ll be surprised.

Pick: Bektic by TKO

Enjoy the fights!

NOW CHECK OUT ECOCHARD’S PREVIEW OF UFC 204 INCLUDING THE PRELIMS: UFC 204 PRIMER – Ecochard’s Preview & Predictions: Bisping vs. Henderson, Belfort vs. Mousasi, Manuwa vs. Saint Preux, Struve vs. Omielanczuk

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