Can Hendo Score a Miracle Upset to End Rival Bisping's Cinderella Story?
Nobody could have predicted Dan Henderson's savage, career-defining knockout win over Michael Bisping at UFC 100. Not even the staunchest of UFC Betting fans.
It was a knockout which both erupted his fans and ignited some criticism as Hendo impaled Bisping -- knocked unconscious by the MMA legend's initial "H-Bomb" right hand -- with a huge forearm drop before referee Mario Yamasaki could intervene. Bisping views the cheap shot with contempt while Henderson shrugs it off as natural and satisfying for a fighter to attack his opponent until the referee steps in.
Whomever you support in this seven-year-old dispute, neither man could deny the achievements the other has made since they met on that fateful night.
Henderson, 46, became Strikeforce champion, also beating one of the greatest fighters ever in Fedor Emelianenko under that banner. He decisioned Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in 2011's Fight of the Year, one which has taken plenty from both men to give the UFC arguably its best fight. He's also scored vicious knockouts over Tim Boetsch and Hector Lombard in the octagon, where he is just 3-6 overall since his 2011 war with Rua.
In Bisping, you have a fighter who is nearly a decade younger and the UFC Middleweight champion following a vicious first round knockout over Luke Rockhold. The Brit is 11-5 since that fateful night against Henderson. His most notable wins come against Rockhold, the incomparable Anderson Silva, and contenders Thales Leites, Alan Belcher, Brian Stann, and Yoshihiro Akiyama.
It's Bisping's time now. Henderson still manages wins by virtue of his heart and one punch knockout power, which is easy to believe will never be retracted by the hands of the clock. Speed, timing, and durability are already lost for Henderson, whose fragility and dogged mentality will probably see him finished fast and hard in Manchester.
Does he still have a puncher's chance? With an arm and a leg to stand on, you bet. Smart UFC betting action will be on Bisping though.
In the co-main event, Vitor Belfort hits last-chance saloon against another frequent fight-finisher in Dutchman Gegard Mousasi.
Belfort, 39, has struggled to compete at a high level since the use of TRT was prohibited in the UFC, going 1-2 and slipping from the perch of the #2 rank in the middleweight division. With losses against then-champ Chris Weidman and "Jacare" Souza, he's low in the 185-lb pecking order despite being an elite competitor in tenures with the UFC and Pride since the late 90s.
Mousasi, 31, is coming off of a Performance of the Night-winning victory over Thiago Santos. Aside from a freak, one-off first round KO loss against Uriah Hall, Mousasi, a great kickboxer and Judo black belt, has looked good in wins over Santos, Thales Leites, Costas Phillippou, and Dan Henderson.
If Mousasi freezes up early, he could get iced by Vitor, but consider the chances slim with Gegard being a smart, fluid fighter, with few question marks lingering on his present ability. UFC betting fans will be leaning towards Mousasi for this one.
Ovince St. Preux def. Jimi Manuwa via unanimous decision (Manuwa, a dangerous striker, returns from a thirteen month layoff with a tall task. Younger and more well-rounded, I think St. Preux controls this if it leaves the first round.)
Stefan Struve def. Daniel Omielanczuk via submission (Struve hasn't secured a tap in a while despite being seen as one of the best submission specialists in the heavyweight division. The seven-footer could definitely get taken down and outhustled by the Pole Omielanczuk, but I think Struve far superior finishing ability comes into play. He's not the sort of fighter you want to hang around with).
Mirsad Bektic def. Arnold Allen via unanimous decision (#15 ranked flyweight Bektic draws one of the UK's top prospects in Allen. Allen, 22, debuted with a beautiful third-round guillotine submission win over Alan Omer, catching the latter while he was shooting for a takedown. Omer's activity spread the newcomer thin and I think Bektic does the more effective work on the ground to win).
Brad Pickett def. Iuri Alcantara by unanimous decision (Call it home advantage. Former Cage Rage champion Pickett has always fought well at home, being one who depends on energy and morale to drive him forward. The FOTN may come here, between two guys in their late 30s who have always laid it all on the line). Check the sportsbook for current odds.
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