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UFC 204 Picks

UFC 204 Picks
When: Saturday, October 8, 2016
Where: Manchester Arena, Manchester, England
by Scott of

Fight Analysis:

UFC 204 from Manchester Arena features a night of terrific fights. At the top of the card is newly-crowned UFC Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping against a man who knocked him out in one of the sportís most-known and brutal highlightsóthe great Dan Henderson. Can Bisping reverse the result of their UFC 100 bout or will ďHendoĒ win UFC gold in what he is calling his farewell fight? In the co-main event, contenders Vitor Belfort and Gegard Mousasi mix it up in a 185-pound bout where the two fighters have 53 stoppages in their combined 64 wins. This one has thrills and high-drama written all over it.

Michael Bisping, 29-7 (15 KOs, 4 Submissions), (-230) vs. Dan Henderson, 32-14 (16 KOs, 2 Submissions), (+180)
The main event features a tantalizing rematch bout between middleweight champion Michael Bisping and MMA legend Dan Henderson. In 2009, Henderson scored a second-round KO over Bisping in one of the most-smashing knockouts ever. After dropping Bisping and knocking him out, Henderson flew in with a haymaker on the defenseless Brit that was one of the most cringe-worthy shots in a sport thatís full of them. That was over 7 years ago. A lot has happened since then and here they both are fighting for the title.

Bisping is a warrior of incredible grit and resilience. If a few years ago you told people Michael Bisping would be the UFC Middleweight Champion in 2016, youíd have seen a lot raised eyebrows. Heís going to need to call on that warrior spirit to climb back into the octagon with a man who so brutally smashed him before. But itís something that means a lot to him and this is what warriors do. The guy is really a modern-day gladiator and for him to rise to this point at 37 and after a dozen years in the game is remarkable.

Henderson is now a ripe 46. In terms of merit alone, he probably shouldnít be fighting for a title ahead of more-deserving contenders. But heís still highly-viable, as he showed with a brutal second-round KO of contender Hector Lombard in June in his last fight. And to judge this by merit fails to capture the spirit of his challenge. In all fighting sports, legends receive some deference from the powers-that-be. Henderson deserves this. He just beat a monster in Lombard and holds one of the sportís most-emphatic wins against Bisping. Itís hard to argue he doesnít belong in this spot.

Henderson has said and made it very clear that this is his last fight. After all, he is 46 with a demanding list of fights against the best of all-time on his resume. On one hand, you donít really like the idea of fighters entertaining thoughts of retirement while still fighting, especially when about to challenge for a world title. This is a sport where total commitment is required. Fighters thinking about other things, whether it be making movies or entertaining thoughts of hanging Ďem up is usually a roadblock to victory. Then again, at 46, retirement is more of an option that presents itself. If anything, Iíd look for a guy like Henderson to be invigorated by the light now being visible at the end of the long tunnel.

Still, we have to be realistic about Henderson at this advanced stage in his career. Even with the win over Lombard, he has dropped 6 of his last 9 fights and is no longer the bankable winner he used to be. Power, however, is the last thing to go and Henderson still has oodles of that, as he can still short-circuit the mental wiring of any fighter with whom he solidly connects.

Henderson is facing another veteran in Bisping, who isnít fresh as a daisy, either. Heís 37 and has taken some massive punishment over the years. He has that glitchy eye and the mileage of 25 UFC fights on his odometer. But he has shown what he is made of in his whole career, but especially recently with the gutty win over Anderson Silva, followed by the stirring knockout of then-champion Luke Rockhold. I see the revenge-minded Bisping exercising due caution, surviving some anxious moments, and getting the rematch win.

My Pick to Win: Iím betting on Michael Bisping at -230. He has become more crafty since his UFC 100 loss to Henderson and should be adept at out-maneuvering Henderson, who also isnít that hard to knock out these days. Bet your pick using your credit card and receive a fat 100% bonus of up to $1000 on your first deposit at MyBookie.

Vitor Belfort, 25-12 (18 KOs, 3 Submissions), (+260) vs. Gegard Mousasi, 39-6-2 (20 KOs, 12 Submissions), (-340)
In the co-main, Vitor Belfort takes on Gegard Mousasi in a battle of 185-pounders looking to increase their profile for a possible title shot down the line. The 39-year old Belfort has dropped 2 of 3 fights with a win over main event fighter Dan Henderson his only win since 2013. He has a tough task on his hands with Mousasi, who is coming off 4 wins in his last 5 fights.

The 47-fight veteran Mousasi is a more bankable proposition at this point. In 9 UFC bouts, he is 6-3, appearing to be in better form as of late. A 13-year pro, Mousasi has been a contender at 185 and 205 pounds, featuring a rangy 6í3Ē frame, with diverse skills where you can just as easily see him score a KO or a submission. Mousasi has beaten luminaries such as Jacare Souza, Mark Hunt, Mevin Manhoef, Ovince St-Preux, Dan Henderson, and many others. Heís an easy guy to overlook, but his body of work suggests a fighter of championship-caliber or pretty darned close to it.

Itís interesting to fathom what we have with Belfort at this point. At 39, heís close to 20 years in the sport. Ever since he was prevented from using testosterone-replacement therapy, he looks different, fights different, and just isnít really the same guy. But TRT Belfort was a monster, a guy who could take your head off, as former middleweight champ Luke Rockhold and current champ Michael Bisping can both attest. While not the killer of old, Belfort is still a striker of the first magnitude, a veteran with a lot of know-how, and a fighter who had the grit to overcome a lot to still be in this spot all these years after first making a splash in the UFC.

Mousasi has also enjoyed a long career and itís not easy to stop him on strikes, something only Uriah Hall and his crazy kicks were able to accomplish in Mousasiís 47 fights. While Belfort is still ultra-dangerous, Mousasi has beaten great finishers before and usually comes out all right. With all the abuse and physiological changes to his body, including 20 years of fighting, itís hard to get behind Belfort at this point. Iíll take Mousasi.

My Pick to Win: Iím betting on Gegard Mousasi at -340. He is facing an ultra-dangerous vet who can still take out anyone. But other than Belfortís striking, Mousasi has more routes to victory. He also has youth on his side and less wear-and-tear, while the end might be near for Belfort, a hard guy to write off, but a hard guy to bet on at this point against a versatile and proven contender like Mousasi. Find the largest array of UFC/MMA/Boxing wagering options at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Their odds are also cheaper than anywhere else on the net!

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