MMA DFS Playbook – UFC 204

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The UFC makes its 4th trip to Manchester, England when UFC 204: Bisping vs. Henderson 2 goes down Saturday October 8th at Manchester Arena. The card is headlined by a rematch between Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson, co-headlined by Gegard Mousasi and Vitor Belfort. Let’s get to the picks, and let’s win some money. As always my friends, keep an eye out for injuries leading up to the card.

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Michael Bisping ($9,100) vs. Dan Henderson ($7,100)

A rematch 7 years in the making finally takes place, and this time for middleweight gold, when 185 lb. champ Michael Bisping looks for revenge against Dan Henderson. at UFC 100, Henderson obliterated Bisping with a step-in over-hand right punch, and then followed up with a strong forearm “just to shut him up.” The knockout, dubbed “The H-Bomb,” is considered an all-time great, the image of Henderson’s flying forearm has become his personal logo. Bisping has not forgotten, and holds a high disdain for the logo, as well as Henderson. He can try to erase some of the bad memories from that night with a win in his home country with his first title defense. With Bisping at 37 years old, and Henderson at 46, no one could have imagined this rematch headlining a pay-per-view for a title in 2016. Yet here we are. Bisping won the title in his last fight, brutally knocking out Luke Rockhold. Bisping was as much as a 6 to 1 underdog prior to the bout, and took advantage of a lackluster effort from the former champ. He’s won 4 in a row dating back to his loss to Rockhold in their first bout, including a decision victory over Anderson Silva. Meanwhile, Henderson is coming off of a thrilling KO victory over Hector Lombard, also on the UFC 199 card. In typical Henderson fashion, he was nearly finished himself, before destroying Lombard with an elbow shot while on only 1 foot. The blow knocked Lombard out cold, and set up the grudge match with Bisping. While there are other contenders certainly deserving of the title shot, this is the fight fans want to see. My heart will be in it for Henderson, but I have to choose these selections with my head. Barring a fluke KO that Henderson is absolutely capable of landing, Bisping should win this bout in dominant fashion. I think he lands a combo early that sits Henderson down, before finishing him with follow up punches. The finish comes in round 1, and don’t be surprised if we see an extra shot or 2 from Bisping in retaliation from the first fight. If there’s ever a fight I’ll gladly be wrong on, it’s this one.

 

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Can Henderson create another iconic moment in MMA history? Photo Credit: SB Nation

Gegard Mousasi ($9,400) vs. Vitor Belfort ($6,800)

Top 10 middleweights anchor the co-main event slot when long-time veterans Gegard Mousasi and Vitor Belfort throw down. While I would rather have seen this fight go down 3 or 4 years ago, these men can still put on a good fight in my opinion. Mousasi has truly impressed me lately, especially in his win over Thiago Santos just 3 months ago at UFC 200. I was high on Santos going into that bout, but Mousasi dispatched him in under a round by knockout. It seems he may be gaining a second wind after 47 professional fights. At still only 31 years old, he has plenty of time to make a run at the title. He’ll have to go through future hall of famer Vitor Belfort to get there. The former light heavyweight champion has fallen on hard times, losing 2 of his last 3 bouts, albeit to the elite of the division in Jacare Souza and Chris Weidman. Both fighters are elite level strikers, with their records littered with knockout victories. Like a lot of bouts on the card, this one should feature a major amount of time spent on the feet. I think Vitor will be the more aggressive of the 2 men, with Mousasi being an excellent counter fighter. To me, it’s going to boil down to what version of Mousasi shows up. There have been fights where you can see very clearly that he’s not 100% invested in a fight, with almost a look of disdain for the competition at times. I have not seen that carelessness in his last 2 victories, and I believe he’ll have the motivation necessary for victory here. Belfort has not looked impressive since a ban on testosterone replacement therapy, and it is clear his best days are behind him after being mauled by Jacare in May. Mousasi will counter the more aggressive Belfort, catching him with cleaner punches en route to a unanimous decision victory.

 

Ovince Saint Preux ($8,400) vs. Jimi Manuwa ($7,800)

Interesting bout here, as OSP returns for the first time since a title loss to Jon Jones in April. Opposing him will be English slugger Jimi Manuwa, who fights for the first time since a crushing knockout loss to Anthony Johnson in September 2015. OSP took “Bones” the distance in their interim light heavyweight title fight, even after suffering a broken arm in the second round. He definitely had moments of success over the pound-for-pound king, including a hard right hand that wobbled him. He’s 7-3 since moving to the UFC from Strikeforce, but has lost his biggest fights to date with the promotion, aside from a thrilling 1st round knockout over Shogun Rua. Manuwa debuted with the UFC riding a wave of hype that never came to fruition. Dubbed a “future title contender,” Manuwa has fought sparingly in the UFC, competing only 6 times in just over 4 years. Like OSP, he has also beaten lesser competition, only to be dominated by high profile opponents. It will be interesting to see which man takes a step forward in the crowded 205 lb. division. My bet is on OSP. Though he clearly lost the bout with Jones, he showed a decent amount of improvement in his overall game in my eyes, and gave the champ a good run for his money. I have yet to see anything from Manuwa to justify the hype that followed him into the UFC from the England regional scene. OSP will win the striking exchanges and will mix in a few takedowns to take a clear-cut unanimous decision over the Englishman.

 

Stefan Struve ($8,500) vs. Daniel Omielanczuk ($7,700)

Fan favorite Stefan Struve takes on short-notice replacement Daniel Omielanczuk in a heavyweight bout. Struve, a 7-footer, looks to keep momentum in his favor after winning his last bout in only 16 seconds over Antonio Silva. “Skyscraper” destroyed the Brazilian legend with brutal elbows in May. His opponent, Omielanczuk, is on a 3-fight win streak including a razor-thin decision victory over the ultra tough Oleksiy Oliynyk. Omielanczuk gets his biggest fight to date here, as Struve has made the UFC his home for the last 7 years, with 11 victories in that time frame. Included in those 11 wins are victories over Pat Berry, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and the current champion, Stipe Miocic. Omielanczuk will have his hands full all night, as he has a major disadvantage in height (12 inches), as well as reach (10.5 inches). His best chance is to get Struve to the mat, where he has finished 9 opponents by submission. The problem for him is I believe Struve’s length will allow him to defend any takedown attempts. Struve’s reach advantage will allow him to win the exchanges on the feet, keeping Omielanczuk at bay with a stiff, long jab. The pick is Struve by unanimous decision.

 

Mirsad Bektic ($9,700) vs. Russell Doane ($6,500)

Opening up the pay-per-view card are featherweights Mirsad Bektic and short-notice replacement Russell Doane. Bektic enters the fight 3-0 in the UFC, but has been inactive for over a year with injuries. The American Top Team representative is a perfect 10-0 overall, and at 25 years old, he’s got plenty of time to get even better. Since opening his UFC tenure with 2 straight wins, Doane has dropped 3 in a row, including his quick submission loss to Pedro Munhoz in July. This is an easy fight to pick, as Bektic is clearly the better fighter, and should impose his will from the jump. Bektic will dominate the striking game early, blitzing Doane for a first round TKO.

 

Iuri Alcantara ($8,300) vs. Brad Pickett ($7,900)

Seasoned bantamweight veterans Iuri Alcantara and brad Pickett headline the preliminary card on FOX Sports 1. With a combined 28 appearances under the UFC/WEC banner, it’s almost shocking that these 2 are fighting for the first time. While both men are losing more fights these days than winning, they can still put on a show, and I expect this one to get the crowd fired up. I think Alcantara definitely has more left in the tank, and should be able to take this fight fairly easily. During wild exchanges, I look for him to use his elite ground game to take Pickett down at will. Pickett has shown an extreme weakness to fighters with strong ground games. Alcantara will eventually find a submission, ending the bout in the 2nd round.

 

Rob Font ($9,300) vs. Ian Entwistle ($6,900)

Rob Font takes on England’s Ian Entwistle on a battle at 135 lbs. Font endured his first loss in the UFC back in May when he lost to the surging John Lineker. Before the loss, he opened his UFC career with 2 straight dominant victories. Entwistle finally gets a bout in England with the UFC, and this will be his 4th country in 4 bouts with the promotion. With 8 submission victories, there is no secret as to what Entwistle is looking to do in this bout. Font is no slouch on the mat, owning a purple belt in jiu-jitsu, but he’ll be overmatched should the fight take place there. In front of his home crowd, the +235 underdog snatches a submission victory in the 2nd round.

 

Davey Grant ($8,800) vs. Damian Stasiak ($7,400)

TUF season 18 veteran Davey Grant looks to keep the positive momentum going when he takes on Poland’s Damian Stasiak. Grant made his official UFC debut in November 2013 after competing on TUF, coached by Ronda Rousey. He lost that bout, and then went inactive for over 2 years with injuries. He returned in February with a win over Marlon Vera. He’ll look to get another win on home soil against Stasiak. Stasiak has opened his UFC career at 1-1, most recently earning a victory in April over Filip Pejic in Croatia. Both men have an absurd amount of rear-naked choke victories, with a combined 9 out of 19 total wins. With that in mind, My pick is Stasiak with a rear-naked choke in the 3rd round after a back and forth fight. He’s been the more active fighter, and I look for the consistency to pay off.

 

Albert Tumenov ($9,200) vs. Leon Edwards ($7,000)

Welterweights open the FOX Sports 1 preliminary card when Russia’s Albert Tumenov looks to rebound against England’s Leon Edwards. Tumenov returns after losing for the first time in 6 bouts, to grappling ace Gunnar Nelson in May. He’ll oppose Edwards, who is 3-2 in the UFC and won his last bout in May. Both men will look to stand in this fight, as both excel in the striking department, especially Tumenov. He’s a National Master of Sports in boxing, as well as Master of Sports in hand-to-hand combat in Russia. He’s shown the ability to take over fights with his elite kicks and punches and will surely look to do the same in this one. Edwards is also a fair striker, with 5 knockouts in 11 wins. Unfortunately for him, he’s running into a buzz saw in this fight. Tumenov is on a completely different level to this point in his career, and his rank at #14 in the welterweight rankings reflect the disparity. Tumenov gets back on track here with a TKO victory in the 1st round.

 

Danny Roberts ($8,100) vs. Mike Perry ($8,100)

After an impressive TKO victory over Hyun Gyu Lim, welterweight Mike Perry looks to make another splash against Danny Roberts. After an awkward weigh in stare down, Perry went out and obliterated Lim in his debut. He’ll face another tough test in Danny Roberts. The England native is 2-0 thus far in his UFC career, and has looked impressive in doing so. I expect some more antics out of Perry leading up to the bout, so he’ll need another impressive performance to back it up. He truly impressed me in his debut, knocking out the much larger and more experienced fighter. This fight is a toss-up for me, but I’m going to roll with Perry. He’ll look to end the fight with one big shot, and I think he finds one in the middle of the fight. The pick is Perry by KO in round 2.

 

Adriano Martins ($8,600) vs. Leonardo Santos ($7,600)

Adriano Martins takes on TUF Brazil 2 winner Leonardo Santos in a lightweight bout on Fight Pass. Martins has only fought 5 times since debuting in 2013, but has impressed in every bout other than his KO loss to Donald Cerrone. He last appeared a year ago when he knocked out Islam Makhachev. He’ll ride a 3-fight winning steak when he fights Santos. Santos is 4-0-1 in the UFC, winning TUF Brazil season 2 in the process. His last bout was his most impressive to date, upsetting Kevin Lee by KO in the first round at UFC 194 in December. This is one of the harder fights for me to call, but I’m going to go with Santos in an upset. With the styles these 2 employ, this could also be a fight of the night candidate. I look for a pretty even stand-up battle, with Santos just edging Martins on the score cards, keeping his winning streak intact. The pick is Santos by split-decision.

 

Marc Diakiese ($9,000) vs. Lukasz Sajewski ($7,200)

Diakiese makes his debut with the UFC when he takes on Lukasz Sajewski at lightweight in the opening bout on Fight Pass. Diakiese makes the jump to the big show in his home country, after dominating the BAMMA promotion and winning the lightweight championship. The 23-year-old is one of the brighter prospects in any weight class, and has been unstoppable on the England regional circuit. He has finished his last 2 opponents in a combined minute of action, and is poised to make a splash in the UFC. After a promising start to his MMA career, Sajewski has fallen flat thus far with the UFC. He’s 0-2 and hasn’t shown much potential in either bout, making this a rather easy one to call. Sajewski is a classic feeder opponent in this one, used to get Diakiese some needed experience his debut. The pick is Diakiese by KO in the 2nd round.

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