Q & Anik is an article featured exclusively at MMAOddsBreaker.com that goes 5 rounds with UFC commentator Jon Anik offering his unique insight on some of the biggest UFC cards of the year. 1st Round Q: Michael Bisping is a relatively small favorite in his first middleweight title defense at UFC 204 against Dan Henderson, who is nine years older than him and just 3-6 in his last nine fights. Do you think that’s because Hendo won the first fight in dominant fashion, and how do you rate his chances of winning the rematch as well? Anik: I think Hendo’s win over Hector Lombard as a +350 underdog is ultimately why he is not a bigger underdog in this spot. I expected Michael Bisping to be in the -300 range here, given his current form and the fact that the fight is taking place in Manchester, England. At 46 years old, Henderson has proven he is still a threat, especially when it comes to his power. But Bisping is a different fighter than Lombard. His output and pace are consistently excellent and I believe eventually he will be able to find his range regularly against Hendo. Bisping is an accurate, technical striker and his experience is such that I don’t expect him to make a costly mistake over pursuing the finish. This is a striking matchup…I don’t expect either guy to go for takedowns. If Hendo can touch Bisping’s chin, he can certainly knock him out, as he did in 2009. That said, Bisping is a much-improved fighter than he was when they fought the first time. And, with 25 minutes with which to work, I think there is a strong possibility that Bisping exacts his revenge inside the distance, and with style points. 2nd Round Q: One prop I have been eyeing in the Bisping-Hendo fight is Under 2.5 Rounds at -125, which might be the best bet. Does that sound too easy in your opinion, or do you think Hendo somehow finds a way to extend Bisping to the championship rounds in another instant classic? Anik: I like it, and I would probably lean to the under here. I think a finish inside the first 12 1/2 minutes is a very real possibility, but I also won’t be surprised to see Bisping really take his time and focus on being the better fighter late. There is nothing easy about betting MMA, and I feel more a lot more confident here in the outcome than I do with the how or when it will actually happen. 3rd Round Q: You have been an avid supporter of Vitor Belfort in the past, and he has knocked out both men fighting for the title in the main event. In fact, Belfort’s last six fights have been knockouts one way or the other, and he has not been involved in a decision in more than nine years. How has TRT impacted his legacy, and how will the new Belfort fare in his matchup with Gegard Mousasi in the co-main event? Anik: There is no denying that the TRT backdrop is a part of Vitor Belfort’s legacy. It’s unfortunate that he seems to be the poster boy for the TRT era, when a lot of other guys were using. As for the new Belfort in this matchup, I think it’s gonna be a tough night. Gegard Mousasi, in 2016, is still one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. His win over ‘Maretta’ Santos recently at UFC 200 is probably the highlight of the UFC portion of his career. He can finish you any number of different ways, and this is obviously a matchup he really wanted. Belfort is still a viciously talented striker and he is always dangerous early, but Mousasi will be aware of that (he learned a valuable lesson against Uriah Hall). The biggest issue for Vitor Saturday night is just how good an opponent he is facing. Mousasi is the fresher, prime fighter and deserves to be in that -330 range. I’d be surprised to see him go down in Manchester, and would feel confident adding him to a parlay or two. 4th Round Q: There are obviously a lot of European fighters on this UFC 204 card in Manchester, but which underdog(s) do you think stand the best shot to be buoyed by the local crowd and pull off upset(s)? Anik: I think there is some value on Jimi Manuwa against Ovince Saint Preux. OSP will draw a lot of confidence from going 25 minutes with Jon Jones earlier this year, and he is a proven and versatile finisher. But not unlike OSP, Manuwa has only lost to the division’s elite fighters and, at 36 years old, this is a must-win if he ever has visions of contending at 205 pounds. There is no denying Manuwa’s power, both in his hands and his feet, and he has the ability to sleep Saint Preux. He is the underdog because Saint Preux is battle-tested and supremely skilled, but I think the fight is closer than the betting line suggests. 5th Round Q: Are there any fighters in the UFC 204 prelims that you have seen personally who may be undervalued due to a lack of exposure or experience in the organization to date, and are they worth betting on in your opinion? Anik: A lot of fans are excited about Marc Diakiese, an undefeated and talented lightweight prospect from England who makes his UFC debut as a 2-1 favorite against Lukasz Sajewski. I’m looking forward to seeing him compete, but it’s always risky backing a UFC newcomer, especially when the opponent has accrued some UFC time. I think Danny Roberts, around -130 versus Mike Perry, will be at the height of motivation and be buoyed by the crowd. Perry is legit, but I see some value on the Roberts side. Disclaimer: Mr. Anik is contractually prevented from wagering on UFC events. His opinions posted here are for information and entertainment purposes only.
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