The UFC makes its return to Manchester, England this weekend as old foes Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping cross paths once again in the main event slot for the middleweight title. The card itself has a host of UFC veterans and it’s time to take a look at how things might shape up come Saturday night.
There is no love lost between the two men headlining this weekend’s card as Bisping will be eager to avenge the brutal knockout loss he suffered at the hands of Henderson back in July of 2009. Yes, seven years ago. It is slightly surreal that these two men are competing for the UFC middleweight title in 2016 and you would be hard pressed to find anyone who predicted such a thing.
Hendo first began fighting back in 1997. At 46 years of age this may very well be the last time he makes the walk to the octagon so it’s oddly fitting that it is a rematch of the bout which provided him with one of the most memorable moments in his career. The path to victory for Henderson in this one is simple – land the H-Bomb, exactly like he did in their first fight. However, that’s easier said than done for a fighter who has gone 4-6 in his last ten outings. Although the American’s better days are clearly behind him, power is the last thing to go for a fighter and Bisping will likely have prepared diligently to avoid a repeat of the embarrassment he suffered courtesy of Hendo’s right hand at UFC 100.
Bisping has evolved quite a bit since their first meeting and it is highly unlikely he will fall victim to the same traps as before. It is vital to the success of the Englishman that he circle away from the power right hand of the American, which he failed to do the first time, a mistake which cost him his consciousness. Expect to see high volume striking on behalf of “The Count” as he overwhelms the ageing American with superior cardio and movement. Bisping has avenged one embarrassing loss so far this year by defeating Luke Rockhold, expect him to make it two come Saturday Night as the hometown hero walks away with away with the middleweight strap.
Prediction: Michael by Decision
Speaking of ageing competitors, Vitor Belfort seems a shadow of the chemically enhanced monster that kicked Luke Rockhold into oblivion back in 2013, a year he also picked up TKO victories over both main event fighters.
1-2 in his last three bouts, the Brazilian is clearly past his sell by date and has been largely unimpressive in losing efforts to Chris Weidman and Jacare Souza, getting finished on both occasions. The only glimmer of hope for a resurgence in the career of the Phenom was a TKO victory in his second fight with Dan Henderson, a fighter clearly on a downward slope of his own.
Gegard Mousasi is a seasoned competitor in his own right with over 45 fights in various promotions such as Dream, Strikeforce and the UFC. Since joining the promotion back in 2013 the Dreamcatcher has shown glimpses of brilliance in dominant victories over the likes of Thiago Santos, Mark Munhoz and even Dan Henderson, but one can’t help but feel that the stoic Dutchman has still not realised his full potential.
It is highly probable that this fight will bear a striking resemblance to many of Belfort’s previous fights in recent memory. In typical fashion the Brazilian will attempt the blitz which we have come to expect and failing that will look to pull guard.
Mousasi has an abundance of experience and it is very unlikely that he will succumb to the initial pressure Belfort looks to employ once the bell sounds. Look for the Dutchman to pick his opponent apart on the feet with a crisp, powerful jab and once the fight hits the mat, which it likely will, Mousasi is well equipped to dominate there as well.
Prediction: Provided the Dutchman weathers the early storm, which he should, Mousasi by KO/TKO from strikes on the ground.
Ovince Saint Preux vs Jimi Manuwa: OSP by Decision
Stefan Struve vs Daniel Omielańczuk: Stefan Struve by Decision
Mirsad Bektic vs Russel Doane: Mirsad Bektic by KO/TKO
Brad Pickett vs Iuri Alcantara: Iuri Alcantara by Decision
Davey Grant vs Damian Stasiak: Davey Grant by Decision
Leon Edwards vs Albert Tumenov: Albert Tumenov by KO/TKO
Fight pass Preliminary fights
Danny Roberts vs Mike Perry: Mike Perry by KO/TKO
Leonardo Santos vs Adriano Martins: Adriano Martins by KO/TKO
Lukasz Sajewski vs Marc Diakiese: Marc Diakiese by Decision
Fionnán Rowan, Pundit Arena
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