The rankings have been thrown out the window when it comes to the main event of this weekend’s (October 8, 2016) UFC 204 from Manchester, England. Instead, revenge has taken over as newly crowned 185-pound champion Michael Bisping will attempt to avenge one of the most iconic knockouts of all time in a rematch against No. 13-ranked Dan Henderson.
Back at UFC 100 in July 2009, Henderson blasted Bisping with a right hand that will live on forever. Fast forward to present day, and Bisping is coming off of a shocking knockout victory over Luke Rockhold that made him the undisputed champion. Henderson, on the other hand, sits at age 46 and has said this will be the final fight of his legendary career.
Both fighters are clearly at different points of their respective careers then they were at when they met the first time. With that being said, let’s take a look at five reasons why Bisping will destroy Henderson this time around.
Speed and Movement
Let’s face it, there’s likely only one clear path to victory for Henderson, and it resides in his brutal right hand that got the job done the first time around. Bisping, however, has not only matured over time, but has become smarter and faster. His movement has also improved.
“The Count” has proven to be a well-rounded striker over the years, and he has used a style in which he darts in an out, cutting angles, and picking his opponents apart with combinations. If Bisping is able to successfully implement his movement and superior speed this time around, I don’t see him getting caught with the right hand. With that being said, if Henderson doesn’t land that patented shot, it could be a long night for the former Olympian.
Not only has his striking arsenal improved over time, but Bisping’s power has also become a serious weapon in recent memory. The Brit dropped all-time great Anderson Silva multiple times in their bout last February, and magnificently finished Luke Rockhold with a brutal left hand in their title bout last June.
Complementing Bisping’s newfound power is the fact that Henderson’s chin has been deteriorating over time. For example, Henderson has lost four of his last seven fights with three of those four losses coming by way of T/KO. With that being said, if Bisping is able to connect, which I suspect he will be, “Hendo” could end up receiving a taste of his own medicine and find himself staring up at the bright lights wondering what happened.
Although he typically likes to search for the knockout, Henderson also has a decorated wrestling pedigree. He’s a former Division I wrestler as well as a former Greco-Roman Olympian, and likely holds the pure wrestling advantage over his British counterpart. If he can’t find a home for the right hand, Henderson may attempt to land a takedown, and although he lands 54.32% of his takedowns, he may not have much success. Bisping defends 64.13% of takedowns attempted against him, and uses his movement and speed in order to stay on the feet where I believe he’ll find most of his success in this bout.
The champion has long been notorious for his cardio and conditioning. Not only does Bisping move well and with speed, but he typically establishes a high pace and keeps it for the duration of the bout, something not all opponents can keep up with. Henderson, although not being known for having poor cardio, is on the tail end of his career, and has not gone five rounds since 2011, nearly five years ago. Bisping, on the other hand, went toe-to-toe with Silva for five rounds earlier this year, and actually picked up steam as the fight went on. If “The Count” is able to wear down Henderson and drag the former Olympian into deep waters, he may be able to put on the pressure and find a finish.
While some have criticized Bisping of taking the easy route for defending his title against the No. 13-ranked contender, he clearly made this decision for a reason, and that reason is because he’s out for revenge. Bisping is hell-bent on erasing the memory of his knockout loss to Henderson, and he’s likely more motivated than ever. This motivation has likely led Bisping to train harder than ever as well, and if he comes in shape, and firing on all cylinders, it may be an easy night for him in Manchester.
Home Field Advantage
This last reason is simply the icing on the cake.
On top of his physical advantages, and his motivation, Bisping will also hold home field advantage as the fight will go down from his native Manchester, England. “The Count” has never lost a bout in the United Kingdom, and I’d have to assume that he doesn’t plan on breaking that trend now – another factor of motivation for him.
Of course Henderson’s right hand could land, or he could outlast “The Count”, but with the roar of the crowd behind him, Bisping may very well destroy “Hendo”.