UFC 204 Preview, Predictions: Michael Bisping Seeks First Title Defense


It’s going to be an all-night fight night in England as UFC 204 comes to Manchester on Saturday with a local start time of 3 a.m. for the main card.

Despite the unusual start time, tickets sold out in six minutes, as Michael Bisping attempts to defend his middleweight title against Dan Henderson in the main event. Bisping also will try to get some revenge after losing to Henderson via a second-round knockout back in 2009 at UFC 100.

Here’s a quick breakdown of UFC 204, along with some predictions for each fight on the main card. All of the current betting lines are from OddsShark.com.

Middleweight: Michael Bisping (29-7, -225) vs. Dan Henderson (32-14, +160)
A lot has changed in the seven years since these two fought for the first time.

Bisping has won four consecutive fights, including a first-round knockout of Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 which gave him the middleweight title belt. Meanwhile, the 46-year-old Henderson has lost six of his last nine fights and his three wins were against opponents in the “back nine” of their careers.

Bisping is also a different fighter from what he was at UFC 100. He’s improved his striking ability, as evidenced by 1,414 career significant strikes — the most in UFC history.

Prediction: Bisping (first round via KO)

Middleweight: Gegard Mousasi (39-6-2, -290) vs. Vitor Belfort (25-12, +225)
Belfort has lost two of his last three fights since testosterone replacement therapy was banned in 2014. The 39-year-old also is eight years older than Mousasi, who is on a nice run as of late.

“The Dreamcatcher” has won four of his last five fights and is the better all-around fighter in terms of being able to strike and grapple.

Prediction: Mousasi (second round via KO)

Light heavyweight: Ovince St. Preux (19-8, -220) vs. Jimi Manuwa (15-2, +180)
St. Preux is a large man, and he was able to use that to his advantage in his last fight against Jon Jones. Despite losing, St. Preux was able to take Jones the distance, even after suffering a broken arm in the middle of the fight.

Prediction: St. Preux (unanimous decision)

Heavyweight: Stefan Struve (27-8, -200) vs. Daniel Omielanczuk (19-5-1, +170)
Omielanczuk has won his previous three fights and has shown he can be a well-rounded fighter. Struve, on the other hand, has struggled ever since getting knocked out by Mark Hunt in 2013, when he suffered a broken jaw. He’s lost three of his last five fights and also has been dealing with a heart defect.

Prediction: Omielanczuk (second round via submission)

Featherweight: Mirsad Bektic (10-0, -475) vs. Russell Doane (14-6, +350)
Russell Doane took this fight on five days’ notice after Arnold Allen and Jeremy Kennedy both pulled out. Doane has struggled mightily since his UFC 175 win, losing his last three fights. Bektic, on the other hand, is undefeated, and facing an opponent with little time to prepare will bode well for him.

Prediction: Bektic (first round via submission)

Thumbnail photo via Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports Images

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