It’s midnight here in Manchester and we are live from cageside. It’s taken them thirteen years but finally the UFC have made British fans stay up all night to watch live action. You may think I’m annoyed but this actually saves me buying a hotel room so I’m a-ok with working to Zuffa o’clock! Plus it gave me a chance to check out today’s What Culture Pro-Wrestling show – which from what I saw was a lot of fun.
In the main event Michael Bisping defends his newly win middleweight title against Dan Henderson. I think the true brilliance of this fight has been lost by the predominately American media. Yes, Dan Henderson ending his career by winning the title at tender age of 46 years old would be an absolutely amazing story but Bisping finally get his hands on Henderson will also be a terrific story. That devastating two-punck knockout defeat at UFC 100 did lasting damage to Bisping’s career.
Not only did it prevent him getting a title shot when British MMA was at its hottest but it made him far more risk adverse in the Octagon. He would let fights drift rather than take risks to truly hurt his opponents - a failing that would cost him dearly against Wanderlei Silva. It’s only as he’s became more aggressive that he’s started to show fans what he can do. Until recently Bisping wouldn’t have sufficiently pushed the action against Anderson Silva to earn the decision, nor would he have had the killer instinct to finish Luke Rockhold.
Below the first lineal (as opposed to an interim) championship match on British soil since 2008 we have Gegard Mousasi being given the chance to annihilate the fighter formerly known as The New Vitor Belfort while Jimmi Manuwa faces Ovince St. Preux in the biggest fight of his career. Below that its very much a typical British card with local and European fighters such as Stefan Struve and Brad Pickett in winnable matches.
UFC FIGHT PASS PRELIMS --
> Leonardo Santos def. Adriano Martins by split decision (29-28 x 2, 28-29)
This lightweight bout is the only one to not feature a single British or European fighter, with two Brazilian lightweights meeting. One predictable consequence of the late start-time is that the arena is packed for the first prelim, with there being barely any empty seats. I don’t what tonight’s arranagements are but I remember when I went to Carl Froch fight Andre Dirrell in the middle of the night, the arena demanded that everyone be in the arena for 11pm with no readmission allowed. God, they made us watch some awful fights that night.
Nothing much connected in the first round despite both men looking to throw, much to the annoyance of the crowd who quickly started whistling. It was a lot of circling around the Octagon, with neither man showing much ring intelligence as they one-dimensionally ran after each other. Santos probably did enough to earn the round but really you could score it either way given how little actually happened. 10-9 to Santos.
Santos begins the round looking for a kick to the body. Martins coming forward but Santos lands a strong kick to the body. Santos misses with a high kick, and Martins lands a couple of kicks to the thigh in response. Martins blocks a high kick from Santos, as the crowd once again get irritated. Santos is the aggressor but he’s really not doing that much. Martins lands a leg-kick. Santos with a kick to the mid-section followed by a jab. Santos goes for a cross but Martins’ blocks. Neither man is really trying to put genuine combinations together which is making it easy to miss.
Santos land a decent high kick. Martins misses with a wild punch and then finds his kick to the body dropped. Santos lands a kick to the body but almost leaves his chin exposes, only just leaning back enough to avoid Martins’ punch. Both men miss shots, only for Santos to cleanly land a high kick. Fans again boo the fight but that was a marginally better than the first round. That was also more clearly for Santos, who now leads 20-18 on my scorecard.
Both swinging and missing to begin the final round. Santos connects with a nice leg-kick. Santos connecting with the jab. Martins responds with a leg kick. Fans are once again getting bored of this fight. Santos has the first takedown attempt of the fight but its comfortably blocked. Santos lands a couple of punches. Martins at best grazes Santos with a straight punch. Martins trying to push Santos up against the cage, and actually connects with a couple of punches.
Martins has probably pushed the action more than Santos this round. He lands two good leg-kicks, as he does a good job of controlling the centre of the Octagon. Again Martins force Santos to circle along the Octagon wall, with the leg-kicks having clearly hurt Santos. Santos has been cut from one of Martins’ punches…and for a brief second it looks like there’s a chance of a finish. But Santos manages to ride out the clock.
That was definitively Martins’ round, with the last couple of minutes the first example of someone actually using superior footwork to control the fight.
However I have it 29-28 to Santos - although the first round had so little action it really could be judged either way. And the judges have it...as split decision for Leonardo Santos. A perfectly fair decision but by no means was that a good fight. The crowd boo Santos - I think we can say we're going to have a rowdy crowd tonight. Can't think what substance may be contributing to that.
> Mike Perry def. Danny Roberts by 3rd round TKO (4:40)
A thunderous reaction for both fighters, with the partisan crowd buying into the British vs. American clash. Roberts goes low and then high with kicks to start. Perry chases him down and lands a low kick of his own. Both men exchange low kicks. Perry seemingly woke Roberts up, with the Brit landing two heavy punches.
Roberts doing well, including landing a Muay Thai knee to the head. Roberts still pushing the action, only to get caught by Perry. Perry follows up with a couple more punches to the head, rocking Roberts. Perry pushes the dazed Brit to the floor. Perry controlling Roberts on the ground, but despite giving up his back, Roberts manages to escape and make it back to his feet. Both men throwing and missing. Roberts connects with a couple of kicks but its Perry who finishes the round the stronger and comes very close to finishing the Brit.
Once again he connects with several punches and forces Roberts to the ground. He is trying to work his ground and pound, when the bell goes. Perry’s round – I suppose there’s an argument for 10-8 but I think Roberts’ probably did enough to keep it 10-9.
The near-finish hasn’t dented Roberts’ natural aggression, with him still swinging for the fences against the American. Neither man is connecting with much compared to the first round – with Roberts noticeably missing with some wild kicks. Perry is trying to take control of the centre of the Octagon, but Roberts lands a nice straight jab. Perry connects with some good short punches in the clinch. Roberts misses with another Thai knee.
Perry tries to work over Roberts up against the fence, but Robert bulls his way out of it with a takedown attempt. Perry comes close with a right hand-left hand combination. Perry seems to be tiring, keeping his hands by his sides as Roberts lands several punches to the jaw. Perry seems absolutely exhausted and Roberts is literally landing punches at will. But the American has a granite jaw – never seeming in danger of being knocked down.
Then suddenly Perry lands a counter, knocks Roberts down, and is working over the Brit on the ground as the fight comes to an end. Great round. No idea how you score that – on balance I would probably say Perry did the most damage but Roberts more than played his part. He is however down 20-18 on my scorecard.
The third round picks up where the last one left off. Perry works over Roberts up against the fence, but Roberts manages to get out. There’s an electric atmosphere for this fight. Perry looks very tired. Roberts lands a couple of good punches and goes close with a right-left. Perry is pushing forward but Roberts doing a good job of evading.
Roberts staggers Perry as the American tried to walk him down – landing a straight punch square on the jaw. Perry is a tough competitor – he has taken some real hard shots in this fight and has barely flinched. Perry blocks a high kick and threatens with a cartwheel kick! Roberts lands a head-kick square to the jaw that doesn’t faze Perry in the slightest. Roberts is bleeding badly from the left eye. Perry sneaks in some good punches when countering the increasing wild crosses of the Brit.
Roberts is starting to tire. They exchange up against the fence. Perry stuns Roberts with a knee to the head, Roberts staggers back, Perry lands a good punch, pushes him down, and then finishes the fight on the ground. Great fight – the fans loved that just as much as they hated the first one.
FOX SPORTS 1 PRELIMS --
> Marc Diakiese defeated Lukasz Sajewski by 2nd round TKO (4:21)
Diakiese is a genuine hometown fighter – hailing from Manchester itself. As you would expect strongly partisan reaction to the two fighters whose names are a livebloggers nightmare. Diakiese immediately tries to engage with Sajewski but it’s the Pole who wins the grappling tussel. Sajewski has side-control, much to annoyance of the fans. Diakiese manages to move back to half-guard but Sajewski is looking for the armbar.
Sajewski trying to throw elbows on the ground. Diakiese gets back to his feet, Sajewski going for the guillotine choke and Diakiese just dumps to the ground. That’s as near as you’re going to see to a body slam in UFC. Great spot. Diakiese tries to press the advantage but Sajewski manages to escape. The Pole takes the Brit down again. Sajewski quickly moves to half guard. Diakiese manages to roll through and briefly threaten with a knee-bar.
Back on the feet and Diakiese is looking to strike, landing some kicks that Sajewski manages to block. The Pole ties him up again against the fence as the buzzer sounds. Well there was only one winner of that round, no matter how awesome the slam was. 10-9 to Sajewski despite the oddly one-eyed highlights shown on the big screen that focus on what Diakiese did.
Diakiese tries to push the action to begin with, connecting with an overhand punch. He connects with some good short punches and is looking to work Sajewski up against the cage. Diakiese doing a better job of not overcommitting this round, so making him less vunerable to the takedown. He lands a great jumping knee to the Pole’s jaw. Sajewski is clearly a fairly limited fighter on the feet, with Diakiese’s offnce being far crisper.
Sajewski makes a half-hearted attempt for the takedown but Diakiese is equal to it. Diakiese looking to land, misses with a wild cross. Both men seemed to have slowed down. Diakiese working over Sajewski up against the fence – landing some good straight punches. Sajewski tries to lunge after Diakiese, a reckless mistake that once again leaves up against the fence.
Diakiese unloads on the Pole, landing punch after punch, to an opponent that whilst he doesn’t seem in any danger of falling down, clearly isn’t defending himself. After standing up to numerous punches, when Sajewski legs momentarily buckle, the referee steps in to call it a night. Good victory for the hometown fighter.
> Leon Edwards def. Albert Tumenov by 3rd round submission (3:01)
Edwards with a kick the body. And another. Edwards throwing the jab to keep distance. Tumenov not really doing anything so far. Edwards tries to land some punches but Tumenov does a good evasive job. Edwards somehow manages to take Tumenov down with a sloppy, lunging takedown. Edwards in half guard but not really doing anything from top position. Might be working for an arm-in-triangle choke. Moves to side-control.
Tumenov briefly threatens to get up but Edwards takes him down again. Tumenov tries to get back, but Edwards holds him up against the cage. Tumenov on his knees, with Edwards on his back, but nothing is happening. Despite the Brit winning the fans patience is being sorely tested. Not enough to boo the fight though. Edwards round 10-9.
A very different round to the first one with most of the action taking place on the feet. Edwards tried to push the action to begin with but it certainly seemed that Tumenov was the person getting the better of the exchanges. It would be fair to say that this fight hasn’t exactly caught fire. Still its pretty funny to see how much more tolerant the crowd is of a British fighter stinking the joint out. 19-19 on my scorecard.
Tumenov pushing the action, but Edwards fires back with a jab. Tumenov misses with a high kick. Tumenov is controlling the centre of the Octagon, forcing Edwards back against the fence. He lands a good right hand. Tumenov walking Edwards down, but good do with being more active. Edwards goes for a takedown but fails to get it. Just after successfully blocking a kick by grabbing Edwards’ leg, Tumenov makes the mistake of having his own leg caught from a kick. This gives Edwads the opportunity to take him down with half the round still to go. He takes Tumenov’s back, and quickly applies the rear-naked choke for the submission victory.
> Damian Stasiak def. Davey Grant by 3rd round submission (3:56)
Stasiak quickly takes Grant down, which is pleasing because after the Edwards fight people might get confused that British fighters are good at wrestling. Grant does a good job of using butterfly guard to stop him from pressing the advantage. They’re back to the feet, and Grant throws a flashy kick and back fist. Neither means much. Grant is going for the takedown, and gets it despite Stasiak's resistance. They quickly get back to their feet however.
Grant performs a nice little trip but can’t control Stasiak. They’re grappling in clinch up against the fence, and ultimately separate. After the fight drifts for awhile, Stasiak goes very close with a spinning back kick. They end up on the ground, with Grant on top position but he doesn’t have time to press the advantage. Odd round. Plenty happened but little of it meant anything with both men neutralising each other. On balance Grant did more but it could be judged either way. 10-9 to Stasiak.
Grant looking to push the action at the start of the second round. He unloads on Stasiak up against the fench, working over the body of the Pole with numerous punches. Grant hurts Stasiak with a good cross to the body. With Stasiak walking backwards as the Brit tries to press the advantage. Stasiak connects with a spinning backfist, he also badly misses with another. Stasiak manages to complete a takedown but Grant quickly gets back to the feet.
They’re against the fence again, and Grant gets some good shots in. Grant drops down, looking for an armbar. He doesn’t get it, with Stasiak taking top position. Stasiak is out of guard but Grant uses the fence to flip over and take Stasiak’s back. They disengage whilst still on the ground, Grant hesitates before throwing a punch, and Stasiak ends the round in top position.
Again a close round with both men doing a good job of keeping it tight. Stasiak probably got the better of the grappling but Grant landed the better strikes. It could go either way, but on balance I’d give that round to Grant, so giving him a clear edge on the scorecards. 20-18 to the Brit.
Stasiak starts with a kick to the body. Grant misses with a straight punch and only grazes with a high kick. Stasiak tries to clinch, but Grant isn’t interested. Grant connects with a punch, but an attempted clinch goes nowhere. Stasiak completes a takedown up against the fence but Grant quickly gets back to his feet.
A second takedown from the Pole is reversed, with Grant in top position. Stasiak manages to lock in an armbar. Grant fights to escape, but in rolling over, Grant actually makes the angle more actue. He’s forced to tap but it takes the referee several seconds to notice.
> Iuri Alcantara def. Brad Pickett by 1st round submission (1:59)
Alcantara takes it to Pickett at the very start, landing some big shots – his kicks and knees look a ot sharper than anything the Brit can fire back with. The Brazilian knocks Picket down hard with a spinning back elbow. Pickett does well to not be finished with ground punches. Alcantara is literally sitting on Pickett’s chest.
Goes for a triangle, threatens to switch to the armbar, only to double down on the triangle choke. Pickett tries to roll out but is trapped up against the fence where he has no choice but to tap out. This might be it for Pickett – he’s not looked himself for a long time.
PPV MAIN CARD --
Welcome to the main card of UFC 204. It is 3am here in Manchester but the crowd is still going strong. Indeed, if anything they seem a bit louder than usual...as if they've been refreshed by beverages of one kind or another. If there's any doubts about the attitude of this crowd then the loud boos when Dan Henderson appeared on screen should dispel them. This is Bisping country!
> Mirsad Bektic def. Russell Doane by first round submission (4:21)
Doane causes Bektic to stumble after catching him with an overhand right. They both go for looping punches up close – neither seems to land. Bektic gets a takedown although Doane does a good job of first neutralising him in guard and then getting back to his feet. However Bektic won’t let go, and keeps trying to slam him back down. We seem to have hit a stalemate, with Bektic unable to complete the takedown but Doane unable to escape.
Doane really is working hard to avoid being put on his back. The referee is letting these rather than bloodless exchanges go on for a very long time. Which is just as well because Bektic's patience is finally rewarded. Bektic finally gets the fight back to the ground, having Doane’s back whilst the American is sitting up.
He then gets underhooks in looking for the rear-naked choke. Doane does well to resist but there’s simply too much time on the clock, and Bektic gets the submission victory.
> Stefan Struve def. Daniel Omielanczuk by second round submission (1:41)
If you’ve never seen him in real-life you cannot understand just how enormous Stefan Struve is – he towers over Omielanczuk. Struve throwing kicks to the body, whilst Omielanczuk tries to bull forward. Omielanczuk lands a left hook to the jaw of Struve. Struve with some good kicks to the body. Omielanczuk sneaks in another punch to the chin of Struve – this shouldn’t be possible. Seriously why does no one try to teach Struve how to jab?
Omielanczuk continue to get shots in, and briefly gets a takedown. Omielanczuk pushing Struve up against the cage. Very even fight so far. Struve forces Omielanczuk to the ground, and has side-control. Struve transitions to top control, then takes Omielanczuk back when the Pole tries to escape. Struve looking for the rear-naked choke, with just over a minute left. Struve struggling to get it fully applied. It looks like the fighters will ride this position out to the end of the round. Very even on the feet due to Struve’s continued inability to make the most of his natural gifts but he was dominant on the ground. 10-9 to Struve.
Both men try to go high to begin with, but both miss. Omielanczuk bizarrely tries to take Struve down again – clearly having learnt nothing from the Dutchman’s grappling advantage last time. Omielanczuk pushes Struve up against the fence, and predictably Struve reverses. The two men are grappling for control up against the fence, Struve gets the trip, and ends up in an unorthodox top position.
He then roles for an D'Arce choke, gets trapped up against the cage, flips Omielanczuk over and secures the submission. A deserved submission for his grappling dominance, and its baffling Omielanczuk didn't learn the lesson of the 1st round. That is now the fifth submission victory in succession.
> Jimi Manuwa def. Ovince Saint Preux by second round KO (2:38)
It is now 4am here in Manchester and I have to admit that I’m starting to feel a little bit tired. But we push through, because this fight should be interesting. Given the shocking lack of depth at light heavyweight it’s no exaggeration to say that that the winner of this match could next fight for the title. Think about it – Jones is still suspended, Gustafsson has again withdrawn from injury, Glover was destroyed in his last fight. Who’s left to fight the winner of Daniel Cormier vs. Rumble Johnson?
Leg kicks from Manuwa, but OSP quickly ties him up against the cage. Knees to the body of Manuwa. OSP is working for a takedown but the Brit is doing a good job of defending. More knees from OSP, but eventually they separate. Manuwa tries to engage but OSP shrugs him off. If I were Manuwa I wouldn’t keep trying to go for a takedown – I doubt he’d do well on the ground against OSP. Manuwa just misses with a knee. They clinch up against the fence, and OSP just about completes the takedown.
Manuwa is in danger of giving up his back. They’re right up against the fence so there’s not a lot of room for OSP to get the submission. OSP seems to let Manuwa up so he can get a takedown away from the cage, Manuwa counters the takedown with a guillotine choke attempt. However its never properly applied, and so OSP is able to escape unharmed. OSP takes Manuwa’s back again, and peppers his head with punches. Manuwa makes it back to his feet as the round ends. That round was clearly Ovince Saint Preux’s, 10-9.
OSP working Manuwa over with legs to begin with. Manuwa lands a nice right hand-left hand combination. OSP goes for a takedown but Manuwa shoots straight back up. OSP tries to push him against the cage, but they disengage. Manuwa lands a good combination, followed by a straight punch. The Brit’s striking is much sharper this round. OSP misses a punch, but lands a front kick. Manuwa lands a high kick of his own.
Manuwa lands some good punches to the body – he might have been looking for a liver punch. OSP rests against the fence, and Manuwa connects with a flying knee. OSP is starting to look tired. Manuwa goes down low again, then connects with a lovely right cross that causes OSP’s legs to buckle.
Manuwa misses with his next two punches but then a short left knocks Ovince St. Preux out cold! A huge victory for Jimi Manuwa – this could potentially set him up for a big fight next time out.
> Gegard Mousasi def. Vitor Belfort by second round TKO (2:43)
A mixed reaction to Vitor Belfort – there were certainly some jeers but they ended up being drowned out by cheers. Mousasi with a leg kick, then a high kick. Another leg-kick from Mousasi. Belfort lands a left hook, goes forward, but Mousasi evades the next blow. Mousasi with a jab. Mousasi doing a nice job of walking Belfort down although he could do with being more aggressive. Mousasi uses a punch as a feint for the takedown, but Belfort blocks.
Mousasi goes in with a punch, misses, Belfort answers with one of his own. Given how bad Belfort has looked in recent fights, Mousasi should be looking for the finish rather than grinding him down. Belfort with a high-kick. Mousasi walking Belfort down but not throwing much – as always he’s a very cautious fighter. Jab from Mousasi. Leg-kicks from Mousasi. High-kick from Belfort. Mousasi clips him with a cross, Belfort looks stunned, but is able to tie Mousasi up when the Dutchman tries to press the advantage.
They clinch up against the cage, but Belfort manages to escape. Mousasi competes a takedown as the buzzer goes. Typical Mousasi fight – the striking is technically excellent but is taking no chances. 10-9 to Mousasi.
Mousasi with a jab. Mousasi with a kick to the mid-section. Mousasi with a good jab. Belfort fires back with a punch. If Mousasi carries Belfort for fifteen minutes, then his next fight should be against Cain Velasquez. And just as I type that, Mousasi shows what he can actually do. He stuns with Belfort with a head kick, and then just unloads on the Brazilian up against the cage.
He worked Belfort over with numerous punches, showing tremendous handspeed and shot-selection. His uppercuts were particularly potent in opening up the former champion. A thrillingly violent dissection. Belfort manages to escape but is quickly taken down, where Mousasi finishes him with more punches. Great stuff – more of this from Gegard Mousasi would be most welcome.
> UFC Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping def. Dan Henderson by unanimous decision
So it’s just a smidgen before 5am in the morning, and its time for our main event. It should be noted that this is a rare match where the entrances themselves are historic. For the final time ever, Dan Henderson walks out for a match. Few men in combat sports have been such a sustained presence in the elite ranks. He is a former UFC tournament winner, two-weight Pride FC champion and Strikeforce light heavyweight champion. He is the man who defeated Fedor Emelianenko and against Shogun Rua was one half of the greatest fight in the sport’s history. He deserves to get that final chance to win the title that always alluded him.
But Michael Bisping’s walkout is also historic. He truly was the man who put British MMA on the map, the charismatic face of the sport that turned followers of boxing and pro-wrestling into UFC fans. For him to walkout in his home town to defend the world championship is a sight even his most ardent fans had given hope of ever seeing. Whatever happens he deserves this moment of celebration and vindication.
As you would expect the crowd is rabid. Henderson is loudly booed, Bisping wildly cheered. Loud let’s go Bisping chant. Bisping with a high kick, and then a left cross. Bisping with a kick to the chest. Henderson throws a jab out. The atmosphere is electric – the crowd is doing football songs. Both men trying to feel each other out with the jab. Henderson misses with a wild swing, Bisping misses with some quick punches too. Henderson again goes for the overhand punch.
Bisping tying to strike from range, doing a good job of mixing the kicks. Henderson misses with a jab, Bisping can’t quite connect with his counter. Bisping misses with a high kick. The whole arena is on its feet chanting ‘Stand Up I f You Love Bisping’ at 5am in the morning. Bisping has been cut. Henderson lands a punch to the shoulder, and goes very close with the overhand right. Henderson rushes forward again, but doesn’t land. Henderson connects with the big right hand! Bisping is down. Henderson is all over the Brit. Bisping desperately trying to get Henderson off him.
Bisping’s face is a bloody mess. Bisping back to his feet. Bisping on the offensive, lands a high-kick. The buzzer goes and this atmosphere is electric. 10-9 to Henderson; could easily be 10-8 but Bisping had been in a control.
Bisping is noticeably more aggressive in the second round. He’s walking Henderson down, looking to mix punches and kicks to keep Henderson the back foot. Bisping is starting to land punches to that once granite jaw of Henderson. Bisping with a high kick. Bisping misses with his own overhand right. Bisping gets a short punch in. Bisping misses with the left, but lands the right. Bisping lands a nice leg-kick, high-kick combination that staggers Henderson.
Bisping goes close with a high kick. This round has been all Bisping. Bisping lands another high kick. Follows it up with a punch. Bisping with a knee to the head. Bisping goes close with a front kick. Henderson tries to land a punch but misses. Bisping has Henderson in real trouble after putting together a solid combination following a potential low blow, but the American knocks him down again! This is real drama. They ride out the final minute with Henderson on top.
That was Bisping’s round and it’s all even on the scorecards.
Bisping doing well to stay aggressive, and lands a high kick early. Bisping misses with a right hook. Bisping lands a leg-kick. Bisping misses the overhand right. Bisping is able to block the overhand right of Henderson. Leg kick from Bisping. Bisping lands a clubbing punch to Henderson’s head that staggers the American. Bisping misses a straight right. Bisping lands a smart leg kick. Henderson blocks a high kick. Bisping just misses a front kick.
Bisping walking Henderson down, connects with a right hand. Henderson feints a takedown, but Bisping still avoids the right-hand. Henderson goes for another takedown but Bisping stuffs it. Bisping lands another high kick. Bisping lands a strong right hand. Henderson is proving remarkably resilient. Henderson threatens to rush forward but Bisping steps back. Bisping connects with a high kick as the round ends. Clearly Bisping’s round, and so he takes the lead, 29-28.
Bisping trying to work the jab to begin the round. Henderson attempts the high kick. Bisping connects with a weak one. Henderson with the leg kick. A less energetic round than the previous one as the battle starts to take its toll. Bisping lands a good high kick, but can’t follow it up. Henderson is hit low. Henderson taking his time with the restart, whilst Bisping plays to the crowd. Bisping lands a high kick, then a punch to the head.
Misses with a few jabs. Henderson rushes forward, but only connects with a leg kick. Bisping with a high kick. Bisping with an oblique kick. Bisping with a jab. Henderson misses with a wild kick. Bisping lands a couple of straight punches. Henderson goes very close with a right hand. Bisping gets a couple of good shots in. Bisping with the leg kick. Bisping misses with the front kick. Bisping lands a good boxing combination. Bisping with another oblique kick. Bisping with a high kick.
They try to engage but nothing comes of it. Another round to Bisping, with the Brit’s superior workrate telling now that he’s managing to avoid the H-Bomb. 39-37 to the champion.
By my count Henderson needs a knockout. However he could easily have been given a 10-8 for Round One, or even judged to have squeaked Round Two. High kick from Bisping misses, Henderson lands a right hand but Bisping takes it and fires back. Both men are clearly very tired. Bisping with a kick to the shin.
Bisping lands a jab. Bisping lands a leg kick. Bisping lands a right hand. Bisping’s been opened up again. Bisping with a high kick. Bisping with a good kickboxing combination that finishes with a kick to the mid-section. Bisping misses with a crescent kick! Henderson goes for the body but misses. Henderson goes for an uppercut but misses. Henderson rushes Bisping, gets him down but Bisping gets back to his feet with no damage caused. Back on their feet,
Bisping lands a high kick. Bisping blocks the takedown from Henderson. Bisping blocks the overhand right. Bisping fires a kick back. The crowd is on the their feet as Bisping throws a high knee. Henderson tries to roll through.
Less action than the previous rounds and Henderson was more aggressive, but I still feel Bisping did enough to outpoint him. I have it 49-46 to the champion on my scorecard. I wouldn’t argue with a closer scorecard but I struggle to see how he doesn’t retain. The judges have it 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46 for the winner….and still UFC Middleweight Champion, Michael Bisping. The crowd erupts!
Amazing scenes afterwards as the place erupts in love for the hometown champion. This is the key thing that is often overlooked by some commentators - Bisping is both one of the greatest heels and most beloved babyfaces the sport has ever seen. To prove that he quickly transitions from praising the crowd and thanking his family, to cutting a hilarious promo where he runs down the rest of the division.
The crowd then joins Bisping is doing a complete volte face on the former challenger, now loudly cheering Henderson. In emotional scenes the veteran announces his retirement as the crowd chants his name. A wonderful moment.
Well that was UFC 204. It was an incredible night with great action throughout the card and one of the most emotionally charged matches in UFC history. It's 5.30am in the morning in Manchester, and I couldn't be more awake.