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UFC 204: Betting Odds and Predictions

Michael Bisping will make his way to the Octagon as the hometown favorite when he takes on Dan Henderson at UFC 204 in Manchester, England. This bout is more personal than any other for Bisping, as he is looking to avenge the highlight-reel knockout he suffered to Hendo at UFC 100.

The co-main event features middleweight contenders trying to cement themselves as legit threats to the belt, as Vitor Belfort and Gegard Mousasi face off. 

Michael Bisping vs Dan Henderson

Bisping is at his best when he can wear down his opponents in the standup game. The Brit is a volume-based striker who actually fares better the longer the fight goes. Bisping is a stellar 12-4 in his career in bouts that make it past the second round and his number of significant strikes increases the longer a fight goes.

Bisping’s grappling abilities are generally underrated because he predominantly uses them in a defensive manner. ‘The Count’ knows that striking is his path to victory and he has developed a wonderful defensive wrestling game to keep the fight where he wants it.

Let’s not trick ourselves – Henderson is getting this fight due to his accomplishments in the past, not based on anything he has done recently. Hendo still has one of the most powerful right hands in the sport and needs to be respected on the feet. We’ve seen him use a few different techniques in his recent bouts, but they were done sloppily. It’s all about the H-bomb, his patented overhand right.

Henderson was once one of the best wrestlers in the world, but at 46 the skills just don’t seem to be there anymore. It’s still something that opponents need to respect and he uses this as a way to set up his right hand, but he has not landed more than one takedown in a fight for several years.

This is Bisping’s fight to lose. The Brit has never lost in England and he has revenge on his mind. He should win this, but his style lends itself to a 25-minute grinding affair. Can Henderson’s cardio last that long anymore? Not likely. However, unlike Bisping, it only takes one punch from Hendo.

Prediction: Michael Bisping (-250)

Vitor Belfort vs Gegard Mousasi

When Belfort enters the Octagon, you are basically guaranteed to see a stoppage. Each of Belfort’s past 13 bouts has failed to make it to the scorecards, with his past five ending within the first round. ‘The Phenom’ has ridiculous power and speed in all of his limbs, with 18 career knockouts to his name. He does have a black belt in BJJ, but he only rarely uses it at this point.

The biggest issue with Belfort is his gas tank. Ever since the TRT ban, you can see that the Brazilian doesn’t really have the ability to last much longer than five minutes. Hell, we’ve seen him look completely gassed out within the first three minutes.

Mousasi is more than capable in every aspect of the game, but it’s his striking that truly sets him apart. ‘The Dreamcatcher’ is excellent at controlling distance and using head movement to land his strikes while keeping himself away from danger. Mousasi will eat a couple of shots if he feels like he has a fighter reeling, but his standup is about attacking safely. Though he doesn’t necessarily wrestle often, he has vicious ground and pound while sporting sneaky submission skills on the mat.

Mousasi has struggled to find consistency in the UFC, as he can sometimes seem to lack motivation. We’ve seen him coast in fights in which he shouldn’t and either get finished or win a lackluster decision. You need to assume a fight of this magnitude should keep the Dutchman motivated, but it’s always a concern.

Belfort can win this fight but he will need to do so quickly. Getting through Mousasi’s defense is not easy and I truly expect that Belfort is going to gas himself out early. I also assume that Mousasi is going to be motivated and looking to take Belfort out in emphatic fashion.

Prediction: Gegard Mousasi (-350)

Ovince Saint Preux vs Jimi Manuwa

Ovince Saint Preux is an athletic freak, but his technique has still yet to truly catch up to his natural ability. OSP will look to counter in the striking game with either his big left hand or his left roundhouse kick. He has the ability to knock out anyone with those strikes but he can throw technique out the window often, which tends to get him in trouble. OSP was a high school wrestler and mixes good technique with his bullish strength to put himself in good positions in the clinch.

Saint Preux does have a questionable gas tank and tends to try to push the pace early. He has gone through two five-round affairs and appeared to gas out in each one. Again, his technique is unrefined, which is a blessing and a curse.

Jimi Manuwa is a lethal striker who combines his natural power with wonderful technical prowess. ‘Poster Boy’ has ended 13 of his 15 professional victories via knockout – nine of them in the first round. One of the things that makes his striking so deadly is his smarts in the Octagon. He knows when to flurry, he knows when to lay off and he knows when to go to the body instead of headhunting.

Aside from striking, Manuwa isn’t anything to write home about. His wrestling isn’t good and we’ve still yet to really see much out of his cardio. He’s a striker, plain and simple.

I genuinely question OSP’s decision-making skills in the Octagon. Despite being 33 and having 27 pro fights, he still seems green. If Saint Preux is wise, he takes Manuwa down and tires him out. I don’t think that happens. I think Manuwa and OSP will come out fast and the former Tennessee Volunteer will leave too many holes for Manuwa to land big strikes.

Prediction: Jimi Manuwa (+125)

Stefan Struve vs Daniel Omielanczuk

Let’s get it out of the way: Struve is a ridiculously big human being. ‘Skyscraper’ is an apt nickname for a guy who is 7’0” and has an 84.5-inch reach. He has yet to utilize his length consistently in the striking game, but still has some decent power. It’s when the fight goes to the ground that Struve is truly dangerous. The Dutchman has 16 pro victories by way of submission and his lanky limbs are a difficult obstacle for any opponent.

Aside from health, the biggest issue facing Struve in his career has been his defense. He is all-in on offense and often leaves himself vulnerable to being hit or taken down. Wrestling is actually one of the worst parts of his game because of his size, as it’s difficult for him to get down to protect his legs.

Omielanczuk is a tough customer who is usually looking for the finish. The big man has never been finished in 26 pro fights, with 12 stoppage victories to his name. He has some decent power on the feet – especially in his kicks – but it’s the ground game where he is strongest. He has plenty of submission victories to his name, though he hasn’t picked one up since 2012 in Warrior’s Honor.

The Polish fighter does have a tendency to give up the center of the Octagon to his opponents and allow himself to get pushed up against the fence. Omielanczuk’s wrestling is not good and if he gets pushed against the fence, he can be taken down and controlled.

I think we are starting to see Struve understand his natural size a bit better in recent outings, which could be the big factor. Neither guy is going to be able to bring this fight to the mat with their personal wrestling ability, but Struve should be able to capitalize on some clinch work along the fence.

Prediction: Stefan Struve (-185)

Mirsad Bektic vs Russell Doane

Bektic is one of the best featherweight prospects in the UFC today, as the American Top Team member is a perfect 10-0 in his pro career. He broke onto the scene thanks to his tremendous wrestling and vicious ground and pound. He has been improving his striking – and we got a brief look at that during his limited standup against Lucas Martins – but he still uses that to set up the takedown.

We have yet to see many flaws in Bektic’s game, as he has been brought along slowly. The biggest issue that has come up is his ability to get rocked if he decides to brawl with an opponent. As long as he sticks to his game plan, he is extremely difficult to stop.

Doane took this fight on less than a week’s notice after Jeremy Kennedy – who was a replacement for Arnold Allen – withdrew from the bout a day after agreeing to it. This is an extremely difficult spot for Doane to be in, as he has lost each of his past three outings and a loss on such short notice may result in his pink slip.

The Hawaiian is a slick submission fighter who has shown that he has some underrated striking skills. Offensively, Doane is a good fighter, but he struggles defensively. On the feet he is quite hittable and his submission defense is less than adequate for a guy who likes to attack in that manner.

In all honesty, Bektic should steamroll over Doane in this bout. Doane normally fights at 135 but will take this bout at 145, which means it is unlikely he can deal with Bektic’s strength once he gets a hold of the Hawaiian.

Prediction: Mirsad Bektic (-700)

UFC 204: Manchester, England

Odds as of October 8 at Bovada

  • Michael Bisping -250
  • Dan Henderson +195
  • Gegard Mousasi -350
  • Vitor Belfort +265
  • Ovince Saint Preux -155
  • Jimi Manuwa +125
  • Stefan Struve -185
  • Daniel Omielanczuk +150
  • Mirsad Bektic -700
  • Russell Doane +450
  • Brad Pickett +115
  • Iuri Alcantara -145
  • Davey Grant -190
  • Damian Stasiak +155
  • Leon Edwards +195
  • Albert Tumenov -250
  • Danny Roberts -115
  • Mike Perry -115
  • Leonardo Santos +170
  • Adriano Martins -210
  • Lukasz Sajwski +240
  • Marc Diakiese -310

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