UFC Middleweight Champion Michael “The Count” Bisping stepped into the Octagon tonight against Dan Henderson in a fight that was seven years in the making. The first time the pair met, “Hendo” was able to starch the Brit in a finish that continues to live on as GIF used as example of devastating victory. Things would not go the same at UFC 204 though, emanating from the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester, England.
The first two rounds were eerily similar to eachother. Bisping would stalk Henderson, landing strikes from range and accumulating damage. Then, in the twilight of the round, “The Count” would attempt a long left hook and receive an H-Bomb for his trouble. While Bisping was knocked down both times, and nearly finished in the first stanza. Round One was clearly for the former Olympian based on the near finish. The knockdown in the second was mitigated by the effective striking of the UFC Middleweight kingpin and the duration of his control at range. In fact, this made Round Two the closest of the bout.
Michael Bisping would clearly take Rounds Three and Four. The champion’s superior cardio took over in these rounds, allowing “The Count” to out-strike Bisping by orders of magnitude. The only real break for Dan Henderson came in the 4th round, where an inadvertent strike to the groin allowed the wizened challenger time to get his wind back.
Round Five was the clincher, for many. Henderson found his second gear and picked up the pace, attempting combinations and showing more activity than he had in the previous 80% of the fight. He even remembered he was once an Olympic wrestler and scored a takedown. The champion would not be denied, though. Bisping did not stay down for long, and easily matched the challenger’s pace. The fight would end with Henderson going for broke and attempting – and missing – a somersault kick and eating a couple of seconds of ground and pound from “The Count.”
In the end, the judges would score the bout 48-47, 48-47, and 49-46 in favor of the champion, Michael Bisping. While the scoring was met with controversy from more nationalistic segments of the UFC’s American fanbase, the result is that “The Count” has successfully defended his UFC Middleweight Title. The old gunslinger, Dan Henderson, took this as his opportunity to announce his retirement and ride off into the sunset. And with that, UFC 204 drew to a close.