To put it simply: UFC 204 was a card with a plethora of finishes.
More often than not – that is to say, almost always – this makes for some excellent entertainment. For all of the finishes, the show both opened with a (terribly unenjoyable) split decision, and closed with a(n amazing) razor-thin main event.
This broadcast, emanating live from Manchester, England’s somehow-not-corporate-sponsored, Manchester Arena (ed. note: if you think you know North American stadiums well, give this trivia game a go and let us know how you did, good luck.)kept the 16,000 locals up well past their bedtime, wrapping up well-past 5am in England. But hey, the fans that did stay up to watch likely felt it was well worthwhile. Let’s have a look why that was the case:
Michael Bisping Defeats Dan Henderson to Retain the UFC Middleweight Title (Unanimous Decision)
I’m going to make a confession here: As the year begins to draw to a close, I can safely say that Michael Bisping will have provided me with the most joy inside the Octagon. His bizarre yet spectacular fight with Anderson Silva, his unexpected and astonishing upset over Luke Rockhold and now his shocking and surprising survival over Dan Henderson. Each one was somehow more insane than the fight previous. It’s been an incredible year for “The Count” to say the least.
The fight saw “Hendo” land his vaunted “H-Bomb” not once, but twice, as he absolutely clobbered the Brit in the final moments of the first two rounds. The first round near-finish in particular was remarkable, as Bisping somehow managed to stave of a sustained ground assault following the massive overhand right. At one point Henderson slipped through Bisping’s clutches from guard, and the end seemed imminent. Somehow, someway, Bisping dug deep to survive. And he would survive a similar onslaught at the end of the second round, before beginning to turn the tables on a visibly tiring Henderson.
In the end, the judges universally agreed that Bisping had won (48-47, 48-47, 49-46) by a narrow margin, retaining his title. Some folks scored the fight for Henderson. I’m not too sure I can see that one, as the quantity of strikes and control from Bisping was pretty straightforward. A draw seemed the next best situation to the Bisping decision, as a case could be made the first round was a 10-8 given how perilous the situation was for the champion. In the end, it was a hell of a show, and that’s all we can ask for.
The other big story coming out of this fight is of course that the legendary career of the artist formerly known as “Hollywood” Dan Henderson has come to an end. It’s unfortunate that it couldn’t end with a triumphant Henderson grinning goofily as Dana White straps UFC gold around his waist. Alas, Henderson wasn’t able to achieve his goal of obtaining a title in every organization he’s fought in, coming up juuuust short. Don’t worry though, Dan.
I think we as fans are willing to overlook that. Simultaneously holding the Pride FC middleweight and welterweight upon transition to the UFC is, uh, pretty damn good.
Henderson was always a consummate professional, both inside and outside the cage (TRT wasn’t his fault and I won’t condemn him for it). It’s safe to say that few fighters are going to end their career with nearly as many decorations. While the record over the past few years has a few more in the “L” column than one might want, that’s just the nature of the fight game. There’s no doubting that Henderson is a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame.
Thanks for the memories, Hendo. If I was forced to choose just one, the mind-boggling, life-shortening slugfest with “Shogun” Rua at UFC 139 (what an odd card) is likely going to stick out in my memory for the rest of my days.