MANCHESTER– In what appeared as a mismatch on paper, the UFC 204 main event title affair between Middleweight champion Michael Bisping and legend Dan Henderson at Manchester Arena, delivered an instant classic.
Bisping sought revenge against the 46-year-old Henderson who knocked him out back in UFC 100 in 2009. The problem for many was the fact that since then Henderson hasn’t exactly been putting up consistent victorious performances in comparison to Chris Weidman, Luke Rockhold, Jacare Souza and Yoel Romero. The 185 lb division’s elite were forced to take other fights in the meanwhile.
Bisping was thought to be the favorite and rightfully so, however Hendo gave him a run for his money as he collected two knockdowns in the first two rounds that nearly led to a TKO finish for the now retired UFC legend. The later rounds wore heavily on the veteran’s shoulders as he failed to keep up the pace necessary in a five round battle. The fatigue worked in Bisping’s favor who managed to pull through in spite of having a swollen welt under his left eye as well as lacerations underneath both eyes. The pressure Bisping placed on the now retired Henderson left him open for the “H-Bomb” and although Bisping knew it was coming, Henderson still managed to land it effectively enough to cause more facial damage to the 37-year-old Brit.
Bisping had moments when he managed to hurt Henderson, who has shown a less granite chin in recent memory. Unfortunately for Bisping, Henderson was game enough to keep the fight close in what appears to be his last hurrah.
Bisping’s extra push down the stretch allowed him to secure the championship rounds, which appeared significant enough to outweigh the two knock downs early in the fight.
The controversy that ensued following a wild night at the Manchester Arena shouldn’t take away from why it’s so difficult to predict a mixed martial arts bout. This is what makes the sport so interesting. The heart and courage displayed by both men provided a nice appetizer for fight fans who patiently await the historical UFC 205 next month.
Dan Henderson’s career coming to a close is a reminder that the old guard in mixed martial arts is nearing its end. Vitor Belfort’s second consecutive loss via TKO could spell the end of another legend who like Henderson, also sports an asterisk due to TRT use.
Michael Bisping on the other hand will likely enjoy an extended vacation while watching how the division unravels this upcoming month as Rockhold and Souza are set to square off in a rematch as well as Weidman and Yoel Romero. The month of November has plenty left in store for fans and as crazy as it sounds, Michael Bisping is at the helm and sitting on the throne awaiting his next adversary.