What more could you ask for? The main event of UFC 204 featured everything we love about fighting. In one corner we had a legend looking to win the championship in his final fight. In the other, we had an underdog who upset the rising star for the championship, looking to avenge a terrible knockout.
Throw in a partisan crowd and you’ve got a memorable night in UFC history.
Bisping and Henderson battled in slugfest that went the distance. When it was all over, Bisping won the decision, but Henderson won the respect of the fans and the crowd, one last time. On the rest of the main card, Gegard Mousasi, Stefan Struve, Jimi Manuwa and Mirsad Bektic also impressed.
Let’s look at UFC 204, why it mattered, and what happens now.
Michael Bisping is a Champion
Yes, on paper we know he is a champion. But if anyone thought he won the title on a fluke over Luke Rockhold, or that he unfairly won a decision over Anderson Silva, they need to think again. Bisping showed unreal determination at UFC 204 when he got up off the canvas after Henderson floored him with a right hand. Henderson then clobbered him with several punches, but Bisping refused to die. He scrambled. He used his legs. He fought off his back and he stood up and threw a right hand that landed on Henderson’s back. Right there and then we knew this fight would be different, that Bisping was not going to face the same result as their first fight at UFC 100. Bisping showed that he wanted a different result this time and although he could have folded under the pressure, he didn’t. He survived Henderson’s right hand and rode the path that Jake Shields did in Strikeforce. He outlasted Henderson and did enough to win. He’s a champion, little and capitol C.
Gegard Mousasi is a Contender
The former Dream and Strikeforce light heavyweight champion tactically smashed Vitor Belfort. He took him apart with aggression, quickness and perfect striking. When Mousasi is at his best, he’s close to unbeatable. He possesses an unparalleled focus. That laser-like attentiveness varies from fight to fight, but he had it at UFC 204. When Belfort nailed Mousasi with a straight left hand, Mousasi was clearly wobbled, but he forced himself to get stronger. He even shook his finger in Belfort’s face as if to say, “No, you don’t get to win.” Mousasi eventually TKO’d Belfort. Mousasi can beat anyone in the division.
Stefan Struve is on the Rebound
Struve submitted Daniel Omielanczuk with a D’Arce choke, a surprising end, considering that Struve probably could have just used his long reach to outbox and outstrike the Polish powerhouse. Struve, who stands nearly 7 feet tall, is a sight to behold. He’s so big that you can’t help but stare at him. He also should be in the championship conversation. He does, after all, hold a victory over UFC champion Stipe Miocic. Struve is so big that he’s going to give most guys trouble. The UFC heavyweight division isn’t exactly booming with young talent. Struve has struggled against the top talent in the division, but he certainly deserves a rematch with Miocic.
Jimi Manuwa has Knockout Power
On one hand, Ovince St-Preux looked like he would have rather have been watching the fights than competing in them. St-Preux gave a lackluster effort and paid for it. Here’s a guy who went the distance with Jon Jones, but then sleepwalked through a fight with Manuwa. Manuwa dropped him and knocked him out and St-Preux’s fall from main event with Jones to this was disappointing. Manuwa’s pounding of OSP should put him back among the division’s elite.
Dan Henderson Goes Out On Top
Henderson lost a close decision, but it didn’t matter. He fought like a champion and nearly won the championship. He smashed Bisping and bloodied his face. Bisping’s eye was swollen badly. Henderson looked like the winner. But, unfortunately for him, the fight is judged on five rounds, not one or two. Bisping outstruck Henderson and showed that he was an overall a better fighter. Henderson walked around the cage simply looking for a knockout with the right hand. When he couldn’t get it, he had nothing else to offer. Bisping had a more diverse striking attack, and even though he doesn’t hit has hard as Henderson, he did enough to win.
But Henderson deserves respect for his incredible career. He has won titles all over the world and is the kind of fighter who inspires everyone watching him. He’s no-quit and how can you not respect that? A guy like Conor McGregor gets a lot of attention for his mouth and his insults of other fighters to promote fights, but Henderson gets attention for his in-ring ability. The fans respect him, not for his showmanship, but for ability. Henderson is the definition of “MMA fighter.” He’s everything great about MMA.
Follow Joshua Molina on Twitter: @JECMolina.
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