On Saturday, Michael Bisping will defend his UFC Middleweight Championship in a rematch with Dan Henderson at UFC 204: Bisping vs. Henderson 2 from Manchester, England.
The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. ET with the Fight Pass prelims via an online stream, and will transition to FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. for the remainder of the preliminary card. The main card will get underway proper at 10 p.m. live via pay-per-view and the UFC’s official streaming options.
Bisping, 37, is a technical kickboxer who has been with the UFC since 2006. He went a full year without losing a fight before he fell to Rashad Evans in November 2007. After stringing together another three-fight winning streak, Bisping then faced Henderson for the first time at the pivotal UFC 100 pay-per-view.
While there were varying opinions, most thought that Bisping would be able to beat Henderson, a savvy veteran with decent wrestling and otherworldly knockout power, but not a lot of technicality in his standup. Instead, Bisping spent the match circling directly into Henderson’s power, and it eventually had him at the receiving end of one of the UFC’s best highlight-reel knockouts.
It was a devastating knockout, but after that point Bisping and Henderson went in different directions. Bisping suffered some more high-profile losses, but he’s showing some of his best stuff in the octagon in recent fights. He’s riding a four-fight winning streak, including wins over Anderson Silva and Luke Rockhold, who also happens to be the person he won the belt from and whom he last lost to.
Henderson, 46, is well out of his prime but still has knockout power, as evidenced by his similarly highlight-reel-worthy knockout of Hector Lombard in his last outing. Henderson doesn’t have the speed or the gas tank to go five rounds at this point in his career, and Bisping still has a technical boxing advantage over him ... but his power continues to be overlooked by his opponents.
Despite fighting for the belt, Henderson hasn’t looked his best at this stage of his career. His knockout over Lombard was enough to give him a title shot, but this matchup has a lot more to do with his history with Bisping than him being the top challenger. That’s especially true as Vitor Belfort and Gegard Mousasi, the last two fighters Henderson has lost to, are also on the card in what might be considered a title eliminator.
As for who will win on Saturday, it really could go either way. Nobody expected Bisping to come back and beat Rockhold after he was thoroughly dominated in their first fight in November 2014. But Bisping scored a first-round knockout over him in their rematch. He also earned a Fight of the Night performance in a unanimous decision win over Silva, and bested Thales Leites and C.B. Dollaway on his current four-fight win streak.
Bisping has the momentum and should be favored, but Henderson can never, ever be counted out. His power is real and it’s going to last a whole lot longer than the rest of his skillset. Bisping surely won’t circle right into Henderson’s power for a second time ... maybe.