Michael Bisping took Dan Henderson’s best shot -- twice -- and lived to tell the tale.
Bisping (30-7, 20-7 UFC) recovered from two knockdowns to retain the Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight title with a unanimous decision over Henderson in the UFC 204 headliner on Saturday at Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. All three cageside judges sided with “The Count” in the long-awaited rematch, casting 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46 scores in his favor.
Henderson (32-15, 9-9 UFC), who announced his retirement afterward, almost went out in a George Foreman-esque blaze of glory. He leveled Bisping with one of his patented right hands late in the first round, swooped into top position and uncorked a series of elbows. Henderson could not finish the job. Bisping retreated to his corner between rounds with severe damage to his left eye, but his fortitude had kept him in the fight.
A former two-division Pride Fighting Championships titleholder, Henderson began a slow fade over the final four rounds, though he did manage to connect with another overhand right for a second knockdown late in round two. Bisping again survived, established a rhythm and carved up “Hendo” with punches and kicks from the outside. With his 20th victory inside the Octagon, he passed Georges St. Pierre for sole possession of first place on the UFC’s all-time list.
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Mousasi Annihilates Fading Belfort
Former Dream, Strikeforce and Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Gegard Mousasi swept away Vitor Belfort with second-round punches in the middleweight co-main event. Belfort (25-13, 14-9 UFC) succumbed to blows 2:43 into round two, as he lost for the third time in four appearances.
Mousasi (40-6-2, 7-3 UFC) kept “The Phenom” on the end of a punishing jab, mixed in leg kicks and applied merciless pressure with his footwork. In the second round, he blasted Belfort with a head kick and unleashed a swirl of violent hooks and uppercuts. Mousasi then secured a takedown, sliced through the Belfort guard to full mount and mopped up the rest with unanswered punches.
The 31-year-old Mousasi has pieced together a three-fight winning streak since his upset loss to Uriah Hall a little more than a year ago.
Manuwa KOs St. Preux
Former Ultimate Challenge MMA champion Jimi Manuwa knocked out Strikeforce alum Ovince St. Preux in the second round of their light heavyweight attraction. Manuwa (16-2, 5-2 UFC) brought it to an emphatic close 2:38 into round two.
St. Preux (19-9, 7-4 UFC) established his superiority on the ground in the first round, as he delivered a takedown, freed himself from a loose guillotine and operated successfully from top position. Round two was a different story. Manuwa kept him upright, cut off his escape routes and corralled him on the cage. An overhand right buckled St. Preux and set the stage for the finish. A left hook behind the ear dropped “OSP” where he stood, folded him awkwardly over his leg and prompted referee Leon Roberts to act.
Struve Choke Submits Omielanczuk
Stefan Struve submitted KSW veteran Daniel Omielanczuk with a second-round brabo choke in their heavyweight showcase. A replacement for the injured Ruslan Magomedov, Omielanczuk (19-6-1, 4-3 UFC) conceded defeat 1:41 into round two. It marked the first time in his 26-fight career he had been finished.
After a slow start, Struve (28-8, 12-6 UFC) hit his stride. The 6-foot-11 Dutchman scored with an inside trip takedown late in the first round and alternated between full mount and back mount for more than a minute. Struve powered into top position again in round two, ensnared Omielanczuk in a brabo choke near the base of the cage and squeezed for the submission.
The 28-year-old Struve has rattled off three wins over his past four outings.
Bektic Throttles Replacement Doane
American Top Team’s Mirsad Bektic submitted former King of the Cage and Tachi Palace Fights champion Russell Doane with a rear-naked choke in the first round of their featured pairing at 145 pounds. A short-notice fill-in for the injured Jeremy Kennedy, Doane (14-7, 2-4 UFC) tapped out 4:22 into round one.
In his first appearance since undergoing reconstructive knee surgery, Bektic (11-0, 4-0 UFC) executed multiple takedowns before attaching himself to the Hawaiian’s back. His initial bid for the submission was denied, but he maintained his position. Bektic locked in a body triangle and went palm-to-palm with the rear-naked choke for the finish.
Doane, 30, has lost four fights in a row.