UFC 204 takes place this Saturday night on PPV from Manchester, England and it will be headlined with a pretty strange rematch between UFC Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping and multiple time former world champion and legend, Dan Henderson. It is strange for a number of reasons.
No. 1: Dan Henderson is 46-years-old and Was About to Retire Prior to Being Offered the Fight.
A title shot was not even in Dan Henderson's mind after knocking out Hector Lombard at UFC 199. Had Luke Rockhold defeated Michael Bisping later that night as most people expected, this fight would almost certainly not be happening. It just so happened that all the stars aligned for this rematch to happen. Henderson had the feel-good story KO of Hector Lombard in a wild fight on the main card of UFC 199. That was supposed to be the swan song for Henderson. He got the big KO, his family was in attendance, and it finally appeared that Henderson had realized that it was time to hang up the gloves for good.
No. 2: There is a List of More Logical Contenders to Challenge Bisping for the Title
There is a "Big Four" of contenders consisting of Luke Rockhold, Chris Weidman, Jacare Souza, and Yoel Romero that will be in respective fights against one another in the coming month that will help sort out the title picture at 185. I would much rather be watching any four of those guys fight Bisping for the title on Saturday. They all present tougher challenges to Bisping on paper, and while any Henderson fight could end with him landing that patented H-Bomb right hand, it's not likely that he will win this fight or even make this fight competitive. I think there is a good chance that should Bisping retain his title on Saturday, the next man to challenge him will beat him.
No. 3: If Henderson Miraculously Wins, What Happens with the UFC Middleweight Championship?
Henderson has publicly stated that he plans to retire after the fight regardless of the result of Saturday's fight. Some people, including myself, have their doubts that he will follow through with that statement should he fall in love with the idea of being the UFC Middleweight Champion. If he loses, retirement is going to be only logical next step for Hendo. If he wins, things could get complicated. He could retire and vacate the belt, and then what? The UFC could decide to either make one of those two pivotal Middleweight fights and title fight, or they could wait it out and match the winners up for the belt. If Henderson wins and ends up deciding that he isn't done fighting after all, the UFC will likely give the more impressive winner out of Weidman/Romero and Rockhold/Jacare a title shot.
This fight is headlining the card, and the rest of the card is not getting much attention. Vitor Belfort and Gegard Mousasi will square off in a fight that likely would've been more intriguing a few years ago. The formula to defeat Vitor Belfort has pretty much been written. He will rush you and attempt to get you out of their with hia initial burst. If that doesn't work, he's probably done. Weidman withstood that burst, took Belfort down, and made him look very inexperienced on the ground. He didn't fare any better in his last fight at UFC 198 against Jacare Souza. Jacare never even gave Belfort a chance to put him in any danger with that burst. He kept a short distance with Belfort and tied him up multiple times. After beating him up and cutting him with vicious ground strikes, Belfort seemingly quit in there and conceded the fight. He inexplicably pulled guard on the ground specialist and was thoroughly pounded out until the fight was stopped. When Belfort feels that he can no longer win, he has a tendency to break. Mousasi can keep note of that and finish Belfort inside of one round.
A Light Heavyweight Bout bout between gatekeepers OSP and Jimi Manuwa will also take place on Saturday. Seeing either man in this fight become champion at any point is highly unlikely and would surprise pretty much everybody. They've both only lost to the top names in the division, but there lies the problem with both of them. I don't see things getting past that point for them, so that means they'll likely just be stuck where they currently are in the rankings. They could put on a show against a wily and possibly over the hill veteran, but if given the opportunity to take that next step against top-tier fighters, things haven't gone well to say the least. A win won't do much to move up the winner, and a loss won't do much to derail the loser.
Other fights on this card have the potential to give the fans the excitement we all want to see. Young prospect Mirsad Bektić will open up the main card against his third scheduled opponent for the event, Russell Doane. Bektić is coming off of a lengthy layoff due to a torn ACL, but barring that injury setting him back as a fighter, he might just destroy Doane, who is coming into this fight badly needing a win as he has dropped three consecutive fights. Leon Edwards and Albert Tumenov could promise fireworks with a knockout not being an unlikely outcome. A fight that is unfortunately being overlooked is a Fight Pass bout between Leonardo Santos and Adriano Martins. Santos is undefeated in his UFC career with a 4-0-1 record, including an upset stoppage victory over Kevin Lee in December at UFC 194. Adriano Martins has also had an impressive run in the UFC, and he has won 15 of his last 17 fights with his only two losses coming to the Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone and Francisco Trinaldo. It's surprising that this fight is not even the Featured Bout on Fight Pass. It's the second fight of the night instead.
This card doesn't carry a mind-blowing amount of name value, certainly not even close to the PPV that is subsequent to it, UFC 205 at MSG. The main event is what it is, but it can still be exciting and interesting. A lot of these fights will happen in the early hours of the morning in England, and I hope it ends up being worth it to the fans. There's plenty of European talent that fills the card with a mixture of veterans and potential prospects. Will Bisping avenge that highlight reel knockout loss to Dan Henderson seven years ago at UFC 100, or will Henderson go out on top with the belt around his waist?