UFC 204 will be set in the city of Manchester, and most PPV cards set in the UK typically have less talent/star power compared to the American PPVs. That trend will continue with UFC 204, including a bizarre main event between current MW champ Michael Bisping and the guy who knocked him out in such an awe inspiring, almost cinematic-like fashion. That man is Dan Henderson, a very healthy 46 year old man that last fought Bisping a whopping 7 years ago on the stacked UFC 100 card. Hendo has a 3-3 record in the last 2 years, and was hardly deserving of a title shot over the likes of Jacare Souza, Yoel Romero, and even a rematch with Luke Rockhold. Yes, Bisping is a British asshole and secured the championship with an unprecedented 1st round KO over Luke Rockhold. Yes, he’s been waiting for his chance to get payback on Hendo after being on the receiving end of the world infamous H-Bomb at UFC 100. It’s a cash grab by UFC, and UFC 204 being set in the UK obviously made this matchup all the more palatable. This will be the oldest title fight in the history of the UFC, with a combined age of 83 years old! Bunch of old farts.
Remember, DK changed up their MMA scoring to give wrestlers/grapplers a fair shake at matching the strikers in points. Guys with strong offensive take-down game and elite grapplers are now a much better, safer cash game plays than before. The real elite wrestlers like Khabib Nurmagomedov and even Bektic on this card now have massive upside due to take-downs being +5 points. Excellent!
Lukasz Sajewski vs Marc Diakiese
Sajewski’s nickname is Wookie, and Diakiese is the BoneCrusher. Cool? Diakiese will be making his UFC debut and has been killing the UK regional circuit, coming into the fight with a 9-0 record. Sajewski was undefeated before his UFC debut, and now has 2 straight losses. Hooray!
Sajewski is a scrapper, point blank. He’s nothing special on the feet, preferring to sit back and hit back with fundamental striking with not much behind them. He’s rigid at times and not high on striking volume, but he does have his moments of aggression and willingness to turn it into a brawl. He’s got a grinder’s mentality with his wrestling, often electing to keep it up the fence and tiring out his opponents before finally getting the single/double leg take-down. After that? Not much from Sajewski as far as GnP or transitions/advances. His biggest issue is his lack of athleticism/explosiveness. Diakiese is a very fast, explosive striker who goes for the flashy kicks and will overpursue on his punches, but has the quickness to get back into a defensive position. Diakiese is much bigger, stronger, and faster than Sajewski with enough wrestling to evade Sajewski’s cage shenanigans. Burns was able to wallop Sajewski on the feet enough times, and Burns is still learning how to strike effectively. With how much Diakiese has improved over his last few fights, turning from a crazy, flashy striker going for unnecessary take-downs in an effort to destroy his opponents on the ground, to a much more technical, cleaner striker and understanding his edge in speed and athleticism will take him far. That is why I’m picking Diakiese, who should be able to batter Sajewski anywhere this fight goes. Sajewski is as tough as they come, so I think it’ll probably be a decision unless Diakiese can get his back and finish it with a RNC.
Diakiese via unanimous decision
Adriano Martins vs Leonardo Santos
This is a matchup between two very similar fighters, as both men are skilled BJJ black belts who prefer to stand and bang. Martins is more of a southpaw and is the better technical striker, while Santos has more power and tends to try to get into brawls as he pushes forward. The biggest difference between the two is Martins has a little bit of a wobbly chin, and while he’s only been knocked out by a vicious headkick from Donald Cerrone in the last few fights, he’s still had some scary moments of being rocked. Both men are coming off fantastic KO/TKO wins over opponents they were a rather large underdog against. It’ll probably be a stalemate on the ground whenever the fight goes there, so it’s likely a stand-up battle for both guys. As I said before, Martins is the more technically sound striker, mixing in good straight combinations with the left body/headkick. Santos prefers to stand tall and try to counter-strike back with heavy overhands and turn it into a dirty fight near the fence. Martins is the much more skilled striker with the same scrambling/ground pedigree as Santos, so I lean towards Martins for the win. Can’t overlook Santos for the KO win though, considering Martins’ history with being rocked and getting caught on counters.
Martins via unanimous decision
Danny Roberts vs Mike Perry
Mike Perry got a great knockout win over heavy favorite Hyun Gyu Lim on a short notice fight, but outside of that fight there isn’t much to go on for Perry as far as fight videos. He gets a decent test against an athletic southpaw in Danny Roberts, coming off a tough decision win over huge welterweight Dominique Steele. Perry is just a big, muscled guy who swings for the fences on every strike he throws, and he was able to use his aggression to catch Lim off guard with a counter-punch that flattened Lim out. Perry probably won’t be able to utilize the same gameplan against Roberts, who is more of a rangy striker with the length to keep Perry away. Roberts may not be as technically sound for an at range striker as one would like, but he’s still pretty athletic and quick enough to string together nice combinations. Roberts’ biggest issue has been defending take-downs and just overall avoiding being plastered on the ground,and while Perry isn’t some world class wrestler, he’s still got the strength and a solid double leg take-down to make it an interesting fight. I wish I could add more insight, but there just isn’t enough fights on record for Perry, so realistically it comes down to Roberts’ range striking against Perry’s hulking physique and powerful overhands/take-down attempts. Roberts is just the much better fighter with a good enough guard to at least scurry back up to his feet and finish it on the ground. I like Roberts for the finish, taking advantage of Perry’s own aggression and lack of striking defense.
Roberts via 2nd round KO
Ian Emtwistle vs Rob Font (FIGHT CANCELLED)
This is a classic striker vs grappler matchup, though not in the sense that the grappler will try to wrestle and grind his way for a win. Entwistle is a maniac with his uber aggressive take-down offense as he desperately tries to get the fight to the ground, often times sacrificing his body in an effort to lock in his patented heel/hook submission. Rob Font just lost to the mini wrecking ball that is John Lineker, so it’s not necessarily a bad loss for him. He’s a very tall bantamweight with good, technical boxing behind a Muay Thai base, and enough power behind them to rattle even the best of chins. It’ll likely be a 1st round finish for either men, as Entwistle quite literally begs for a ground and pound knockout or powers his way into a fight ending submission. He’s never seen past the 1st round in ALL of his fights, so yeah….roster either one of them.
I’d like to go into more detail with both fighters’ strengths and weaknesses, but this is as simple as it can get. Entwistle is going to bum rush Font as soon as possible and try some sort of take-down, maybe just falls down in an effort to entice Font to jump on him. Whatever the case may be, Font will either get his foot caught in a submission or get his back taken, or laugh at Entwistle’s take-down attempts and brutally knock him out on the ground as Entwistle grabs on a limb for dear life. Entwistle’s already been TKO’d on the ground twice in the UFC, including in his last fight against Alejandro Perez where Perez literally just kept hitting Entwistle in the face while Entwistle held on Perez’s foot. Pathetic, really. Font has really solid take-down defense and a great striking base, so unless he really struggles defending against Entwistle’s pressure or loses a scramble battle, it should be a quick GnP victory for him or even a straight up knockout on the feet. Remember, none of Entwistle’s fights have gone past the 1st round!
Font via 1st round TKO
Albert Tumenov vs Leon Edwards
This is an interesting matchup, as Albert Tumenov is a legit top 10 welterweight with top 5 potential, and Leon Edwards already has 2 losses in his 5 UFC fights. Tumenov was on a 5 fight winning streak with wins over great competition like Lorenz Larkin and Alan Jouban, before his last fight against Gunnar Nelson that resulted in a surprising 2nd round submission loss. It’s going to be some fireworks between two strong strikers who prefer to keep it on the feet, and it’ll be a nice fight for Edwards to showcase his striking instead of having to defend endless take-down attempts.
Tumenov is one of the better boxers in the division, with a fantastic 1-2 combination and a nasty left hook. He has a perfect counter straight for his opponents who try to land a leg kick on him, and actually is pretty adept at catching said leg kicks and landing unblocked pot shots afterwards. His biggest skill-set that separates him from Edwards is his ability to land accurate counter-punches and still be in position to land a devastating headkick at any point of the fight. His double headkick KO over Matt Dwyer was an absolute beauty.
Edwards has always struggled against one type of fighter, and that’s a wrestler/grappler grinder type. While Tumenov does have some solid wrestling/sambo, he definitely prefers to stand and bang. Edwards is sort of a lanky southpaw with a sizzling left straight and a good mixture of the body kicks, but doesn’t really put together many impressive combinations and sticks to the 1 hit stick and move gameplan. That’s not ideal when facing against an intuitive counter-puncher like Tumenov who can cut off Edwards’s angles and keep him in front. Edwards will have to be able to fully put on display his stick and move concepts while keeping his hands up high on any and all leg kicks. I can’t see Edwards being able to survive Tumenov’s stalking presence and accuracy on his combinations long enough to be able to connect on a fight ending left straight. Not to mention Tumenov can always dip into his wrestling well and pound out a win on the ground. Advantage – Albert Einstein.
Tumenov via 3rd round TKO
Damian Stasiak vs Davey Grant
Stasiak’s a wrestler. Grant is a striker. I have nothing more to add. Grant does have some potential in him with how much of a clean, efficient striker he is with decent grappling, but Stasiak is the prototypical grinder that no one wants to watch. So, there’s that.
As said before, Davey Grant has some crisp combinations with great aptitude at cutting off the octagon while he pushes forward. He’s a high volume striker with numerous 3-4 hit combinations and utilizing leg kicks to keep his opponents in front of him. He’s not going to wow anyone with his power or speed, nor is he flashy with his overhands or kicks. Grant simply gets the job done based on volume and accuracy, which should be enough against Stasiak. Grant will have to defend intelligently against Stasiak’s take-down attempts, or he will be stuck on the ground for some time. Stasiak is very mediocre on the feet, looking clunky and nervous whenever he is forced to engage during exchanges. That will be the key to victory for Grant if he is able to continuously defend against the level changes and clinch up attempts by Stasiak, as he could land over 100+ sig strikes on Stasiak. Grant also has a sneaky good guillotine choke which should aid him in deterring the take-downs. It’s just a clear talent difference between the two, with Grant actually looking like a complete, competent fighter and Stasiak looking like more of a throw-in replacement fight. Skin his head, Davey Crockett!
Grant via unanimous decision
Brad Pickett vs Iuri Alcantara
Both guys are veterans of the sport, having fought in the UFC for many, many years. They’re both seasoned guys who know a thing or two about this bloody sport we call mixed martial arts. Alcantara is a huge bantamweight with immense talent and a diverse skill-set, but has always struggled against wrestlers and often times plays down to his opponent’s level. Pickett is a gamer and a grinder, putting his nose to the grindstone and either gritting out a tough win with his classical boxing/wrestling game, or creating firefights and brawling his way into upset knockout victories. It’s probably going to be the former rather than the latter for Pickett, as he’s at a big disadvantage on the feet against the much taller, quick Alcantara and his bag of Muay Thai tricks.
Alcantara likes to switch up his stances, but mostly stays in the southpaw stance, stalking his prey and biding his time for the counter-attack. He’s got a mixed bag of attacks he can employ at any time, but the usual is landing the left straight then some hard leg kicks and targeting opponents’ body to tire them out. Alcantara has always found great striking angles and has the power for the one hit finish, but lacks the urgency and aggression to really put together all of his striking skills to use. He often times suffers momentary lapses in judgments, especially when defending against take-downs, and has battled bouts of inactivity much too often. This is where Pickett can win the fight against the better Alcantara, as his fight IQ and overall skill-set are perfect fits to attack Alcantara’s weaknesses. Pickett has always depended on his jab/straight combo with the mighty hooks behind them, with the occasional take-down/level change to either get it up the cage or push through it for the take-down. He’s nothing special from top control, but considering Alcantara’s struggles to get back up on his feet despite his BJJ black belt and nasty grappling skills, Pickett would be smart to exploit the lack of take-down defense by his opponent.
Here’s the issue I have with Pickett, despite his clear path to victories and having the tools to actually do it. He’s at a size disadvantage, and almost any fight that he’s had a size disadvantage in, it hasn’t been pretty at all for him. He ends up short arming his swinging hooks and gets thrashed around trying to go for take-downs. Sure, Alcantara did get bodied by Frankie Saenz, who is in the same mold as Pickett, but he’s not 38 years old while showing some durability concerns as of late. Alcantara is no spring chicken himself either, but he’s at an insane physical condition and health. I’ve fallen into the Yuri trap repeatedly in the past, and I’m gonna fall into it again. I can’t ignore his physical skills and his technical striking to go with his grappling. Pickett suffers a devastating loss on his homefield, forcing him to retire on a sour note.
Alcantara via unanimous decision
Russell Doane vs Mirsad Bektic
Bektic was slated to fight TWO opponents before Doane stepped in on a week’s short notice. It’s an extremely tough fight to take on short notice, as Mirsad is a Bosnian mean, lean wrecking machine. He’s got immense physical qualities and a brutal ground and pound game that perfectly complements his offensive wrestling game. Doane is a little bit of a do-it all with no real strengths in his MMA game, and will be at a size disadvantage against the much bigger, stronger Bektic. Tough sledding ahead for Doane.
Bektic still has one of the UFC’s most feared wrestling/GnP games, as he has many ways to get the fight to the ground and has the strength to make everything work. Bektic is patient enough to sit back on his punches and encircle his opponents to set up his take-downs, which usually consists of numerous level changes and getting into the single/double leg. The thing that separates Bektic from other wrestlers is the fact that he’s very good from the clinch as well, capable of hitting bodylock slams and creating space with dirty boxing to land some trips and sacrifice throws. Then once on the ground, here comes the pain. Bektic loves to posture up and smash/slash his way through his opponents as they struggle to get back up on their feet. It’s what we will see the most out of Bektic against Doane, whose biggest weakness is his take-down defense. It’s not very good, evidenced by his bizarre loss to a straight up wrestler in Jerrod Sanders. Doane is a quick and adept southpaw with a nice jab/straight combo and has the speed to land at a high clip, but just really lacks the fight IQ and awareness to beat anyone good. He’s on a 3 fight losing streak, including a 1st round submission loss to Pedro Munhoz, where he got taken down and quickly ensnared in a guillotine choke. Doane just can’t seem to defend take-downs at all, and that’s why it should be clear sailing for Bektic. He’s probably the safest play on the card with enough upside to be the highest scoring fighter as well with the new rules. Don’t be surprised if he gets multiple take-downs and still finishes in the 1st round for 130+ points. God, what a Bosnian monster.
Bektic via 1st round TKO
Daniel Omielanczuk vs Stefan Struve
Struve was supposed to fight Ruslan Magomedov before Ruslan got popped by the USADA. Omielanczuk will fight in his stead, and it still doesn’t really change much as both Ruslan and Omielanczuk have or would have had an equal percentage chance at knocking out the Skyscraper. Struve’s last 2 wins are over the only few heavyweights with a worse recent track history than Struve’s, with a KO win over Bigfoot Silva and a hard fought decision over Big Nog. The towering 7 foot heavyweight has always had the potential and the gigantic (no pun intended) length/height advantage over the entire division, only to be held back by his own mortality. He fainted before his fight against Matt Mitrione, scrapping the fight right before it even started, and his chin just hasn’t handled the power of heavyweights with numerous KO losses on record. It’s why even against someone like Omielanczuk, Struve can literally lose the fight at the drop of a dime, or rather, at the drop of a strike.
Struve obviously likes to utilize his mammoth height and length advantage with very, very long and rangy strikes, usually starting with a protruding jab and a smattering of all types of leg kicks. He’ll try to batter his opponents with quick successive jab/straights and keep his distance with push kicks, forcing them to jump into his range which creates huge counter windows for Struve. It should be noted that Struve doesn’t necessarily have the one hit knockout power you’d expect out of a 7 foot HW, but the amount of strikes he throws just simply adds up, and his counter-right is so quick and accurate it doesn’t need much behind it to do the job.
Omielanczuk may not have as wide of an array of attacks as Struve, but he does have more power and a nose for brawls, especially when he doesn’t have to worry about the take-down. He’s a swinger with some ill advised kicks he’ll mix in from time to time, but being aggressive is the name of the game for ol’ Daniel. He relishes the chance to get up close and personal, since he’s very strong from the clinch and will trip a mofo up. The biggest issue that befalls Omielanczuk is his lack of striking defense, which is something he has in common with Struve. Both men’s innate ability in getting hit for no reason certainly means a very high chance of a 1st round knockout, which pleases my MMA DFS soul. Struve’s length has also benefited him on the ground, where his guard is extremely dangerous with 16 submission wins on record. In fact, 25 of his 27 wins have been all finishes for Struve. I lean towards Omielanczuk just because he’s got the attrition to get inside Struve’s range and clobber him for the KO win. If he decides to take Struve down, it may be a quick submission for Struve, so hopefully that doesn’t happen. Upset alert!
Omielanczuk via 1st round KO
Jimi Manuwa vs Ovince St. Preux
Ah! This is a very compelling matchup between two of the more athletic and explosive guys in the LHW division, as Manuwa is a hard hitter who’s still learning this whole MMA thing, and OSP is an extremely lanky southpaw that’s still putting together a complete MMA game. Both guys will be looking to keep this fight standing, which should lead to some explosive exchanges. It’s a prime LHW matchup for either men to win and push themselves into the top 10 ranks in a division begging for more talent.
Manuwa is a vicious counter-striker with 13 KO/TKO wins out of his 15 total wins. The guy means business. He’ll have to be careful when he approaches OSP, as he’ll be at a height/reach disadvantage against a long range striker. OSP loves the left straight/left kick mix-up while standing what seems to be a football field away from his opponent. He’s got an uncanny ability to somehow land a strike from a million miles away. Both guys will be trying to counter each other and keep their distance as much as possible, so it could turn into a staring contest instead of a brawl. OSP struggled to defend against Jon Jones’ kicks, and in general just simply struggles to deal with kicks to his lead leg. Manuwa may prefer to shatter his enemies’ jaws, but he does have some power low kicks that he doesn’t mix in enough times. If Manuwa decides to land more leg kicks than usual, it should open up enough counter opportunities to land the big one that nabs Manuwa the win. It’s a tough matchup to predict as both guys will be feeling each other out for some time, and OSP is as tough as they come, fighting with a broken arm against Jon Jones and surviving 5 rounds somehow. Manuwa fought on a torn ACL against Jan Blachowicz, but does have some chin issues. That’s why I lean towards OSP for the win, combining his inordinate ability to land long distance strikes and Manuwa’s potential chin issues and lack of consistent leg attacks. Will it be a finish? It’ll probably bleed into the 3rd round after all the staring, but it’s a good chance for either men.
OSP via 3rd round TKO
Gegard Mousasi vs Vitor Belfort
Mousasi has been asking for Belfort for quite some time now, and he finally got his wish. Only this time, it’s a Belfort at his lowest point in his career, coming off a TKO loss against Jacare Souza and looking just basically a shell of himself. Belfort’s still got the power and the devastating headkicks, but his speed and strength have greatly diminished over the years, to the point where a simple take-down is all that is needed to finish the old lion. Mousasi is as technically sound and complete as they come in the UFC, with only one crazy freak KO loss to Uriah Hall in his last 5 fights. Mousasi has looked even better with his wins over Leites and Thiago Santos, and the Moose Train should keep on rolling after he decimates Belfort.
Mousasi fights very relaxed but disciplined at the same time, staying on his opponents’ toes with sharp combinations and a great fight IQ on when to go for the take-down. He won’t be lulled into sleep by Belfort’s stalking as Belfort awaits for that one moment to instantly change the fight with a single swing of his left hand/kick. Composed fighters have been the bane of Belfort’s MMA existence, as Belfort isn’t the type to rush opponents down and force striking exchanges. Mousasi has the one thing that has been the demise of Belfort in recent past, and that’s a good, solid double leg take-down. If Mousasi is able to hit that level change and get Vitor on the ground, it’s probably over before it even began. It’s simply a test between Mousasi’s take-down attempts against Vitor’s counter-striking, and considering Mousasi is as good as they come in the MW division, I am all in on the sassy moose. Belfort is just too old, too withered up to take as an underdog pick, especially when his last relevant win was over a 45 year old Dan Henderson. Wait a minute….
Mousasi via 2nd round TKO
Dan Henderson vs Michael Bisping
THEEEEEE REMATCH! Bisping hasn’t been able to wash away the bad taste in his mouth ever since Hendo broke his jaw at UFC 100. These men really don’t like each other, and Hendo had actually been on record saying he had refused to give Bisping the chance to redeem himself over the last few years. Of course, after Bisping shockingly upset Rockhold for the title shot, giving Bisping the rematch on the heels of a title shot was just what the doctor ordered for the geriatric Henderson. It’s obviously a sham of a title shot for Hendo, who barely survived a Cuban Missile in Hector Lombard and has been consistently knocked out over the last 3-4 years as his chin has completely deteriorated. He’s still got that famed H-Bomb that can still eviscerate anything that comes in its path, including Bisping. Upset of the century? Maybe.
Bisping has always depended on his quick, effective jab to start all of his combinations as he constantly circles around his opponent, poking and prodding his way into range. He’s never been known for his power at all, so knocking out Rockhold with a patented Left Hand Larry hook just made the win all the more surprising. He was able to frustrate Anderson Silva for 5 rounds, and outside of one incredible flying knee from Anderson, Bisping looked every bit the champion that he is. It’s nothing against Hendo, but the guy has literally been one punch away from forced retirement, and his only real means of damage is the H-Bomb. It’s a damn good strike, but it’s very predictable and only occurs on counter-attacks. Bisping isn’t one to get countered that easily as he dances around his opponents while applying constant pressure with barrages of quick 2/3 punch combos that add up over time. Bisping clearly has the speed advantage and is much too technical to get drawn into a brawl or get suckered into the H-Bomb yet again. I understand that Hendo does have a real puncher’s chance against Bisping and his history of getting dropped by well-timed counters, but the guy is decrepit and was half dead against Lombard. Bisping should dance and jab his way to an easy victory, as long as he avoids that nuclear bomb of a hand. Even with the lack of power from Bisping, he’s still got a very high chance for a finish, coupled in with a high % of significant strikes thrown/landed in the majority of his fights. I can’t believe Bisping is still the damn champ.
Bisping via 2nd round KO
OH MAN! UFC 205 IS ALMOST HERE!!! CONOR MCGOATER! EDDIE ALVAREZ! KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV! YOANNA! It’s going to be a massive, massive card with enormous prizes on DK, so you better save up your bankroll and cash in during UFC 205 week!