Hometown hero Michael Bisping defends his middleweight crown against Dan Henderson in a rematch of their memorable UFC 100 fight in the main event of Saturday’s UFC 204 ppv from Manchester, England.
It will almost certainly be Hendo’s last fight and whether he wins the title or Bisping avenges his most devastating loss, the result promises to be a great story.
The rest of the card isn’t terribly stacked with the UFC saving the big stuff for next month’s MSG debut, but it should have some newsworthy results coming out of it as always.
In the co-main event, Gegard Mousasi will try to cement his place as a middleweight contender by taking out veteran Vitor Belfort. Ovince Saint Preux will try to rebound from an unsuccessful title challenge when he goes up against Jimi Manuwa in his home country. A battle of European heavyweight could be fun with Stefan Struve taking on Daniel Omielanczuk.
And in the last match for our panel picks, Brad Pickett goes up against Yuri Alcantara. Like Henderson, Pickett has said that this will be his final fight, win or lose.
Our panel weighs in with their picks on the main card fights of UFC 204 below. Odds are courtesy of bestfightodds.com:
Josh Nason (61-39; .610) — Host of Josh Nason’s Punch Out, writer/editor WrestlingObserver.com, WON Twitter guy
David Bixenspan (61-39; .600) — Figure Four Weekly writer, podcast host
John Pollock (60-40; .600) — Fight Network analyst, Live Audio Wrestling co-host, MMA Report co-host
Ryan Frederick (58-42; .580) — WrestlingObserver.com UFC reporter, WON Twitter guy
Favorites (58-42; .580)
Dave Meltzer (57-43; .570) — Wrestling Observer founder
Consensus picks (50-39; .562)
Mike Sempervive (56-44; .560) — Wrestling Observer Live and Big Audio Nightmare co-host
Mike Sawyer (56-44; .560) — Tough Talk MMA
Front Row Brian (55-45; .550) — MMA newsbreaker, beloved internet personality, podcast host
Steve Juon (54-46; .540) — MMA Mania/Wrestling Observer writer, Angry Marks founder
Paul Fontaine (49-51; .490) — MMADraws.com founder, WrestlingObserver.com writer
Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping (29-7) vs. Dan Henderson (32-14) II
Bisping scored one of the biggest upsets of all time when he knocked out Luke Rockhold to win the title at June’s UFC 199. On the same night, Henderson KO’d Hector Lombard in another upset. That made this fight a natural, especially since Bisping has wanted it for the last seven years.
Bisping is on a four fight win streak and Henderson has won two of his last three after losing five of his previous six fights. The Manchester fans will be rabid, and this should be one of the most emotional UFC moments of the year, regardless of the outcome.
– Bisping (-250 favorite): Frederick, Juon, Pollock, Bix, Sempervive, Meltzer, Fontaine
– Henderson (+230 underdog): Sawyer, FRB, Nason
Gegard Mousasi (39-6-2) vs. Vitor Belfort (25-12)
It’s kind of amazing that these two longtime veterans have never fought. Belfort’s career goes all the way back to the UFC tournament days, where he won a heavyweight tournament. He’s long past his days as “The Phenom” but he still packs a punch. Mousasi is clinical but has power, as evidenced by his first round KO of Thiago Santos as UFC 200.
An impressive win by Mousasi would cement him right underneath Jacare, Weidman and Rockhold on the list of title contenders in this division.
– Mousasi (-309 favorite): Frederick, Juon, Sawyer, FRB, Pollock, Bix, Sempervive, Nason, Meltzer, Fontaine
Ovince Saint Preux (19-8) vs. Jimi Manuwa (15-2)
A couple of hard hitting 205’ers take the stage here. Manuwa has lost two of his last three after starting his career with 13 straight wins. Those two losses have come to top contenders Rumble Johnson and Alex Gustafsson. OSP has also lost two of three, with those losses coming to Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira. Both badly need a win here.
– OSP (-147 favorite): Juon, Sawyer, FRB, Pollock, Bix, Sempervive, Nason, Fontaine
– Manuwa (+145 underdog): Frederick, Meltzer
Stefan Struve (27-8) vs. Daniel Omielanczuk (19-5-1)
This one could be ugly, or, as is always the case with heavyweights, we could get a spectacular KO. There’s probably no in between. People forget that Struve has a win over current UFC champion Stipe Miocic. With two wins in his last three, he could make a case for a title if he rings up a couple more wins.
In his way is Poland’s Omielanczuk, who will be giving up almost a foot in height. Omielanczuk has won three straight, with the last two coming by plodding decisions. In a weak division, stretching that out to four wins will put him in the top 15. And yes, he’s an injury replacement that just fought last Saturday.
– Struve (-170 favorite): Frederick, Sawyer, FRB, Bix, Sempervive, Nason, Meltzer, Fontaine
– Omielanczuk (+160 underdog): Juon, Pollock
Brad Pickett (25-11) vs. Iuri Alcantara (33-7)
Pickett has been a popular undercard fighter for years, and will be fighting in his native England for the second straight time. He scored an upset win over Francisco Rivera Jr. and hopes to end his career with another win in his home country. In his way stands Alcantara who will not just roll over. With two losses in his last three fights, he needs to get back on the winning track. This one should be fun and it will be the featured FS1 prelim.
– Pickett (+138 underdog): Frederick, Bix
– Alcantara (-125 favorite): Juon, Sawyer, FRB, Pollock, Sempervive, Nason, Meltzer, Fontaine
Action begins with the Fight Pass Prelim at 7:00 p.m. ET and moves over to FS1 for that portion of the prelims at 8 p.m. The main card is on PPV at 10. Will Cooling will be live in Manchester at cageside providing coverage of the show.
While you’re waiting, check out the following:
– DFS playbook — Who to pick, who to avoid
– UFC on FOX 21 discussion on the Board, including Ryan Frederick’s extensive preview of the card, along with fighter notes