On Saturday night (early Sunday morning in Europe), the UFC took over beautiful Manchester, England with UFC 204.
Though the card was hurt by a series of late fighter withdrawals, it ultimately delivered as a fun one all the same. Highlighted by an unforgettable middleweight title fight between English champ Michael Bisping and MMA legend Dan Henderson, as well as a whopping nine stoppages, the eleven-fight card was one for the history books.
Here’s a recap of the madness in Manchester for those who missed it!
The Main Card:
Bisping Edges Henderson in Unforgettable Middleweight Title Fight
The evening’s main event saw England’s Michael Bisping look to avenge the ugliest low of his career: a 2009 knockout loss to American legend Dan Henderson. The Brit got his shot at vengeance on home soil, in a fight that also marked the first defense of his unlikely reign as middleweight king.
It was a wild one.
In the first round, history very nearly repeated itself, as Henderson floored his British foe with his legendary right hand. In the second, Bisping looked to be finding his groove, but was then floored again in the final moments of the round. In the third, the champ finally seemed to settle in—a trend that continued into the fourth. The fifth round, finally, was fairly hard to score, as Henderson secured a takedown, but Bisping was the far sharper man on the feet.
Despite the strong efforts put forth by both men, this one was ultimately awarded unanimously to Bisping. With the win, the Brit moves to 1-0 as the UFC middleweight king, and now stands at 30-7 overall.
Henderson, meanwhile, hung up the gloves in the moments after the fight. Now 32-15 overall, the MMA legend summed up his swansong perfectly in his post-fight interview with Brian Stann.
“I came up a little short, but not bad for an old man,” he said, before walking out of the Octagon for a final time as cheers of “Hendo, Hendo, Hendo,” filled the arena.
Mousasi Pummels Belfort to Second-Round TKO
In the co-main event of the evening, Gegard Mousasi got a fight with an opponent he’d been calling out for years in Brazilian legend Vitor Belfort. Though the opportunity to fight Belfort came a little later than the Dutchman hoped, he didn’t waste it.
From the moment the bout began, it was all Mousasi. In round one, the former Dream and Strikeforce champ soundly out-landed his foe on the feet. In round two, that trend continued, until Mousasi grounded the fight, secured full mount, and rained down the ground and pound for the TKO.
With the TKO win—which was very reminiscent of the ones Chris Weidman and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza recently scored over Belfort—Mousasi moves onto a three-fight streak, having bested Thales Leites and Thiago Santos in his two most recent bouts. He’s 40-6-2 overall, and probably just a win or two removed from a title shot. Belfort, meanwhile, finds himself on a two fight streak. Now 25-13, the legendary puncher is expected to hang up the gloves post-fight, though no announcement had been made at the time of this writing.
Manuwa Sleeps OSP in the Second
The middle bout of the main card occurred in the light heavyweight division, as England’s Jimi Manuwa took on Ovince St. Preux in a clash of powerful strikers. The Englishman woke the thousands of British fans in attendance up with a thunderous, second-round KO victory.
Manuwa’s knockout win, which registered as a minor upset, followed a tough first round, throughout which he was soundly out-grappled by his American foe. In the second, however, the Brit began to soften his man up with body shots, and eventually found the opening for the punch that mattered: a meteor of a left hand that left OSP folded up against the cage.
With the win, Manuwa rebounds from a KO loss to Anthony “Rumble” Johnson more than a year ago. He’s now 5-2 in the Octagon, and 16-2 in sum. OSP, meanwhile, experiences his first strike-induced loss since a 2009 TKO loss to Virgil Zwicker. He now finds himself on a two fight skid, having recently come up short in a last-minute interim title fight with Jon Jones, and sits at 19-9 overall.
Struve Becomes First Man to Stop Omielanczuk with Second Round Sub
Originally, Stefan Struve was expected to take on Ruslan Magomedov on UFC 204’s main card. When Magomedov withdrew from the bout with a staph infection, however, the seven-foot-tall Dutchman was forced to turn his attention to Poland’s Daniel Omielanczuk, who stepped up on just a few weeks’ notice.
Despite this last-minute opponent change, Struve was able to score a fairly dominant win in Manchester. The Dutchman handily won the first round with his grappling, nearly ending things with a rear-naked choke. In the second, he was able to seal the deal with that grappling skill, grounding the fight with a throw before coaxing out the tap with a beautiful D’Arce choke.
With the win, Struve becomes the first man to stop Omielanczuk. The towering fighter is now on a two-fight win-streak, having bested Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in his last bout. He now sits at 28-8 overall. Omielanczuk, on the other hand, has a three-fight streak snapped by the loss. He’s now 19-6-1 overall.
Bektic Dominates Doane in One
In the first fight of UFC 204’s main card, undefeated featherweight Mirsad Bektic made his return to the Octagon after well over a year on the injury list. Initially, he was expected to make that return against England’s Arnold Allen. Unfortunately, he was then forced to shift his focus to Jeremy Kennedy when Allen withdrew from the fight. When Kennedy then withdrew from the bout, Bektic was forced to realign his focus yet again, this time landing on last-minute replacement Russell Doane, who typically competes as a bantamweight.
Despite this procession of shakeups, Bektic did as the odds suggested and made a successful return to the Octagon. After a brief period of success on the feet, the Bosnian-American shifted gears with a perfectly timed double-leg, which would eventually lead him to a rear-naked choke win.
With the win, Bektic moves to a perfect 4-0 in the UFC and 11-0 overall, and reminds the world why he’s considered one of the hottest prospects in the UFC. Doane, meanwhile, falls onto a 4-fight skid—which could well mean his ejection from the UFC. The Hawaiian bantamweight is now 14-7 overall.
Alcantara Mauls Pickett in the First
The undercard was wrapped up by a compelling bantamweight showdown between Brazilian talent Iuri Alcantara and 38-year-old British vet Brad Pickett. Though Pickett had the thousands of fans in attendance on his side, this one didn’t go his way.
Alcantara started landing moments after the fight began, and it wasn’t long before he sent his foe reeling to the floor with a spinning elbow. From there, the Brazilian quickly began to put his black belt-level BJJ to use. After several failed submission attempts, he was able to earn the elusive tap with a triangle choke. The end occurred at the 1:59 mark of the first.
With the win, which is one of the best of his 40-fight career, the 36-year-old Alcantara rebounds from a decision loss to rising bantamweight prospect Jimmie Rivera. He’s now 33-7 overall. Pickett, on the other hand, returns to the loss column after a split win over Francisco Rivera. The Brit, who is one of just two men to defeat pound-for-pound king Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, is now a tough 1-4 in his last 5 and 25-12 in sum.
Stasiak Spoils Grant’s Homecoming with Third-Round Armbar
When England’s Davey Grant and Poland’s Damian Stasiak stepped onto the canvas in Manchester, both sought to construct the first two-fight win-streaks of their UFC careers. Somebody, of course, would have to leave the Octagon with a loss. Unfortunately for the English fans in attendance, that somebody would be Grant.
Though the Brit arguably won the first round, and certainly seemed to steal the second, he ultimately found his arm extended to the breaking point by a third-round Stasiak armbar. Despite boldly attempting to break free of this hold, he was eventually forced to give up the tap, grimacing in pain as he did.
In victory, Stasiak rises to 10-3 overall, and 2-1 on the sport’s biggest stage. Grant, meanwhile, assumes the same record of 10-3, and is now 1-2 in the UFC.
Edwards Taps Tumenov in the Third
The second bout of the televised prelims saw Russia’s Albert Tumenov and England’s Leon Edwards collide in an intriguing welterweight pairing.
Though Tumenov and Edwards are both known for their striking, this one ultimately came down to the young Brit’s grappling skill. In the first, he was able to dominate his Russian foe with his wrestling. And though he appeared to lose the second when he was unable to find the opening for a takedown, he eventually got to work with his grappling again in the third, when he locked up a rear-naked choke. The tap came at 3:01 of the final frame.
With the win, Edwards extends his streak to two, having bested Dominic Waters in his last outing. He’s now 12-3 overall. Tumenov, meanwhile, has fallen on tough times. Despite starting his UFC run with a bang, the Russian seems to be a bit behind the curve in the grappling department, as he’s been tapped in both of his most recent outings. He’s now 17-4 overall.
Diakiese Stays Perfect With Second-Round TKO
The first televised bout of the night occurred in the lightweight division, as Poland’s Lukasz Sajewski stepped up on short notice to take on debuting Brit Marc Diakiese—the youngest fighter on the card.
Though the 23-year-old Diakiese had some trouble with his Polish foe’s grappling in the first round, he was able to find his groove in the second, establishing his range, and ultimately pouring it on for a nice TKO win against the cage.
With the win, the debuting Diakiese improves to a perfect 10-0. Though he’s undoubtedly still raw, he showcased some real promise in this bout. Perhaps more importantly, he demonstrated a poise under pressure that is usually reserved for far more experienced fighters.
In defeat, Sajewski falls to 0-3 in the UFC, and could well receive his walking papers as a result. The Pole is now 13-3 in sum.
Perry Buries Roberts in the Third
When England’s Ian Entwistle withdrew from his planned bout with Rob Font with an injury, UFC 204’s Fight Pass undercard was reduced to two fights. The second of those fights was a showdown between welterweight strikers Danny “Hot Chocolate” Roberts and “Platinum” Mike Perry.
It was a wild fight. Round one saw the two welterweights trade big shots, with Perry nearly securing a knockout in the final seconds. Round two saw Roberts reclaim the momentum, only to be rocked again as the seconds wore off the clock. Round three, finally, saw Perry put Roberts down for good, leveling him with a knee, punch, and a handful of extremely unnecessary ground strikes as the ref looked on with his head in the clouds.
With this knockout win, Perry improves to 9-0 overall, and 2-0 in the UFC’s Octagon. The American has yet to see the judges’ scorecards. Roberts, meanwhile, has a seven-fight streak stopped by the knockout loss—which is the first strike-induced defeat on his record. The Englishman is now 13-2 in sum.
Santos Edges Martins in Close Fight
The action began in the lightweight division, as Brazilian veterans Leonardo Santos and Adriano Martins battled far from their South American homes on English soil. After three close rounds of action, this one went to Santos, who will return to Brazil with a new split decision win on his record.
With the win, Santos moves to 16-3 overall, and 5-0-1 in the UFC. While his post-fight callout of Michael Chiesa might have been a bit premature, he does appear ready for a step up. Martins, meanwhile, has a three-fight streak snapped by the loss. He’s now 28-8 in sum.
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