Prior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at the main event of UFC 204 as Michael Bisping defends his middleweight championship on his home turf against American Dan Henderson at UFC 204 in Manchester, England. Michael Bisping (Record: 29-7, -230 Favorite, Power Ranking: A-) The UFC middleweight champion is on perhaps the best run of form of his career. He’s won four fights in a row, including beating Anderson Silva and Luke Rockhold back-to-back. His knockout of Rockhold was one of the biggest upsets of the year, closing as a +525 underdog at 5Dimes Sportsbook. His bout at UFC 204 is his first UFC title defense. Bisping is one of the hardest working fighters in the UFC and has been for a long time. He’s been fighting at a Top 10 level in the division for the better part of the past decade. He’s a volume striker (4.42 significant strikes per minute) with solid hands and a strong kicking game. Outside of an all-around striking attack, his best attribute is his conditioning. Bisping quite possibly has the best work rate in the Octagon. He’ll push for all five rounds at an excellent pace. It’s very difficult to beat Bisping by decision because he simply out-works opponents with volume and strikes landed over the course of a fight. He combines that with an underrated wrestling game. Bisping’s biggest issues have been his lack of punching power. Outside of his stunning knockout win over Rockhold, he has struggled to finish opponents forcing him to go all the way to the scorecards. He’s struggled with fighters who can blitz him and offer more variety on the feet. The only two times he’s been knocked out in the octagon have been to heavy hitters who excel at quick bursts against opponents: Vitor Belfort and Henderson. It’s imperative for Bisping to slow his opponents down and to limit the opportunity for them to blitz. Dan Henderson (Record: 32-14, +190 Underdog, Power Ranking: C+) The oldest fighter on the UFC roster, the 46-year-old Dan Henderson looks to make history at UFC 204 in Manchester, England. Henderson returns to the cage for the first time since a shocking head kick followed up by elbow finish against Hector Lombard. This is his first time fighting for the UFC middleweight championship since his 2008 submission loss to Anderson Silva. The legendary Hendo returns to the Octagon for the final time when he faces Bisping. Henderson has stated that, win or lose, this will be his final MMA fight. At this point in his career, everything for Henderson is reliant on the “H Bomb.” He has one of the best right hands in MMA and can finish just about any opponent he faces if he’s able to land flush with it. Henderson has already landed that on Bisping and was able to score one of the famous knockouts in the history of the sport with that punch back when they fought at UFC 100 in 2009. If Henderson is unable to land that big right hand, the rest of his tool kit has diminished over time. He doesn’t have the wrestling chops that he did when he was younger and he certainly doesn’t have as reliable as a chin. At one point, Henderson was considered perhaps the most difficult fighter to knock out in MMA because of his incredible chin. Those days are no longer as he’s been knocked out three times in the last three years. Matchup A rematch of their legendary UFC 100 fight sees Bisping defend his middleweight championship against Henderson. This is a pretty simple fight to break down, as Henderson only has one way to win. The American has terrific power in his right hand, and if he’s able to land it clean on Bisping, he will become the new middleweight champion. With that said, Bisping has improved quite a bit since they first fought in 2009, most importantly is the mental toughness. Bisping trains and prepares for his fights as well as anyone in MMA. In particular, he noticed flaws in Rockhold’s stand-up heading into his second bout with him and was able to knock him out in the first round. Bisping knows that if he avoids that right hand he will dominate the fight. Bisping’s volume heavy approach combined with his outstanding conditioning make confident that barring a first-round knockout loss he will dominate this fight and win at least four rounds of this fight. Furthermore, Bisping has never lost on English soil, and every time he fights there he is buoyed by the home crowd. This is a great opportunity for Bisping to defend his belt against an opponent who is overmatched. Even though Henderson’s chin has not held up recently, Bisping is not traditionally a power puncher, so I would not play a knockout or decision prop. The best prop to look at is the points prop in this bout. Bisping should at minimum win a wide decision, so the opportunity to get a discount on the money line with the points prop is worth waiting to see what it opens at. If the points prop is not available to you, Bisping parlayed with either Marc Diakiese and/or Mirsad Bektic (when the line opens) are all worthy of consideration.
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