Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to pay-per-view (PPV) last night (Sat., Oct. 8, 2016) as UFC 204 went down inside Manchester Arena in Manchester, England in a night of exciting fights.
In the main event of the evening, Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson dazzled fight fans after putting one one of the most memorable title fights in recent memory. In the end, "The Count" managed to hold on his title thanks to his unanimous decision win (video highlights here).
Also, Gegard Mousasi kept marching forward for his own shot at the 185-pound strap, taking out Vitor Belfort via strikes in the co-main event of the evening (see it again here).
Winner: Michael Bisping
Who He Should Fight Next: Wait and see...
The 185-pound division isn't as clear cut as many would like to think it is. Yes, there are plenty of top contenders ready and eager to vie for the strap, but who is actually deserving of the shot isn't that easy to identify. We'll have to see who comes up on top in the coming months, as Chris Weidman is set to face Yoel Romero at UFC 205. Should Weidman win, it will be his first victory since coughing up the title to Luke last year. Is one win good enough to get another crack at gold? Romero, though, can make a strong case should he topple "All American," as it will mark his eight straight win inside the Octagon.
Then you have Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo Souza running it back at UFC Fight Night 101 a few weeks later. A win for Luke will be his first since coughing it up to "The Count," and his case for another shot the the strap will be the same as Weidman's. For "Jacare," if he manages to get some revenge on Luke, then he will have two straight wins in his back pocket.
However, when you stack that up against Romero's streak -- which also includes a win over Souza in there -- then it's easy to see who deserves the next fight against Bisping based on wins alone. That said, all men still have to get the job done come fight night, but if Romero gets the "W" in New York, then he should be the clear choice.
Winner: Gegard Mousasi
Who He Should Fight Next: Anderson Silva
Mousasi knew going into his fight against Vitor that a win wouldn't do much to leapfrog him in front of all of the other title contenders at 185 pounds. And after he earned the win over "The Phenom," Gegard was quick to call out his next challenge, calling for a bout against "The Spider." Like Vitor, Silva isn't the same fighter he was a few years ago, but it's still a fight Mousasi has longed for. Granted, Silva doesn't exactly have the best win-loss ratio over the last few years, but if Gegard wants it, UFC matchmakers should give it to him. Assuming those "thank you" letters have been sent out to Silva and more importantly, if Silva gladly accepted them.
Winner: Jimi Manuwa
Who He Should Fight Next: Mauricio Rua
Following his win over Ovince Saint Preux, Manuwa's stock will be on the rise, which means his next foes will likely be residing in the top five. However, when you look at the current rankings, the field is a bit tied up. Ryan Bader is set to mix it up against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, while Anthony Johnson is ready to go to the big dance against Daniel Cormier. Alexander Gustafsson is hurt and a fight against Glover Teixiera doesn't make since given the fact that he was knocked stiff in his last outing. "Shogun" is the only fight not booked at the moment and he is also coming of a win.
Winner: Stefan Struve
Who He Should Fight Next: Ruslan Magomedov
The towering heavyweights were originally set to mix it up at UFC 204, but a staph infection to Ruslan ruined those plans. After submitting Daniel Omielańczuk with a slick d'arce choke, Struve should be able to get back into the mix of things sooner,rather than later. If Magomedov recovers from his infection soon, I'd like to see UFC matchmakers re-book this fight, possibly for the yer-end show.
Winner: Mirsad Bektic
Who He Should Fight Next: Renan Barao
Don't look now, but Bektic is coming, as the Bosnian-born fighter has now won four straight inside the Octagon keeping his record mint (11-0, 4-0 UFC). But, he still doesn't have that signature win to make him a household name. After choking out Russell Doane in the very first round, it's high-time Mirsad gets the big name opponent, something Barao can definitely provide. They aren't too far apart in the rankings, and if Mirsad can get a "W" over the former Bantamweight champion, he'll be on the fast track to a top 10 ranking.
For complete UFC 204: "Bisping vs. Henderson 2" results, including play-by-play updates, click here.