On Sunday 9th October the UFC middleweight title is up grabs inside the famous Manchester Arena. There, Michael Bisping will defend his 185-pound belt against Dan Henderson in what’s shaping up to be one of the most anticipated rematches in company history.
In their first encounter at UFC 100, Henderson performed one of the most brutal knockouts of all time, putting the Englishman away with one shocking over hand right. This weekend, the division champion wants revenge and now heads to the homeland for his first title defence since knocking out Luke Rockhold in June.
Fight fans were initially surprised when the bout was announced as Henderson’s recent record and rank had some feeling a shot at the title was unwarranted. However, his most recent knockout victory over Hector Lombard left many wondering if he had one more left in the tank. With Bisping holding the belt, the UFC saw a golden opportunity and presented the idea to the Englishman. Bisping signed on immediately and wants nothing more than to dish out some pay back on home soil. Henderson recently admitted that before he won title, Bisping was of no interest to him. Now, the former Strikeforce and Pride champion has a chance to claim the one belt that has escaped him his entire career.
— UFC Aus/New Zealand (@UFC_AUSNZ) October 4, 2016
The championship bout features two divergent styles that have proven effective when executed. Bisping believes that he is coming to the apex of his career and proved that with his most recent striking performance against Luke Rockhold. His work with coach Jason Parillo demonstrates that the 37-year-old still has the ability to evolve and grow as a fighter. Not known for his power, Bisping will have to utilise his advantage in speed and skill to pick apart his opponent and eventually take the American out in the later rounds. With father time taking its toll, the 46-year-old may struggle to compete in the final frames so look for Bisping wear him out with constant pressure. In their last fight, Henderson was able take control of the octagon and keep Bisping backed up with the inside leg kick/ jab combination. Henderson likes to bait his opponent with that pattern of movement until he sees an opening to land that crushing ‘H- Bomb’. Bisping needs to stick and move to the right in order to avoid the knockout blow.
The co-main event is another important middleweight contest, as veteran superstar Vitor Belfort faces Gegard Mousasi. Belfort hasn’t quite looked the same since the UFC’s Testosterone Replacement Therapy ban, but the 39-year-old still possesses the ability to blitz opponents with heavy strikes. In recent years, ‘The Phenom’ has faced only top ranked contenders and in his last 6 fights has wins over both main event fighters as well as former champ, Luke Rockhold. Belfort has strictly worked on his strength during camp so look for the Brazilian to mix up his strikes, close the distance and land power shots early. Mousasi is coming off a two fight win streak and will be eager to scalp one of the bigger names in the division. Mousasi is technically savvy, uses better footwork and movement while moving from a distance. The former Strikeforce champion and has a knack for controlling the pace of combat and looks to use his range to fend off offensive onslaughts. He is a very composed fighter and has had previous success over elite athletes such as Dan Henderson and Ovince Saint Preux. If Belfort is able to close the distance and utilise his strength, look for Mousasi to take him down and work from the ground.
Two of the more explosive light heavyweights will collide this weekend when Jimi Manuwa and Ovince Saint Preux (OSP) step inside the Octagon. Manuwa will look to solidify himself as a genuine top 10 fighter as he takes on the former college football athlete in his homeland. Both fighters came to MMA a lot later than most but their athletic flair has quickly pushed them into the UFC spotlight. OSP brings an unorthodox striking ability with dynamite in both his legs and hands. However, its Manuwa who probably holds the edge on the feet as he possesses unprecedented power for the division. The key advantage for OSP will be on the ground and he should look to mix up his attack with multiple takedowns. Whilst on the ground, OSP will look to utilise his brutal ground and pound where he’s been able to knockout legends such as Mauricio Rua from the guard. If these two decide to stand and trade blows than book it for Fight of the Night honors. Don’t blink!
Main Card 1PM AEDT on Main Event
Preliminary Card 9.30AM AEDT on UFC Fight Pass