UFC 204 in Manchester tomorrow night is packed with highlight reel fight finishers, begging the question, just where are the three fight night bonuses likely to go?
Dana White was due to land in England later in order to take his place at ringside tomorrow and if the fight card is anything to go by, he’s going to have a tough job handing out his three $50,000 fight night bonuses.
The main card alone is stacked with guys who enjoy nothing more than to leave their challengers unconscious. The six men at the very top of the bill boast a combined 119 finishes in 159 wins. That’s an astonishing 75% finish rate.
Light heavyweights Jimi Manuwa and Ovince St Preux both have 14 finishes a piece, Vitor Belfort boasts 21, while Dutch rival Gegard Mousasi has ended 32 of his 39 wins prematurely. And, at the top of the card, Dan Henderson’s 18 early nights compares to Michael Bisping’s 20.
Down the card too there are plenty of young guys with no love for the scoring officials. Albert Tumenov, Mike Perry and Mark Diakiese all carry seriously heavy leather. While bantamweight rivals Davey Grant and Damian Stasiak, along with Leonardo Santos, all have legit fight-finishing submission skills.
Throw into the mix undefeated featherweight Mirsad Bektic, who looks like the future of the division, and red-hot British welterweight Danny Roberts, and all talk of fight fans spilling onto the streets at sunrise here, after a potential 5am main event start time, start to feel well wide of the mark. This card could go quickly. Very quickly!
With two $50k ‘Performance of the Night’ cheques to be handed out, surely home town hero Bisping exacting revenge over Henderson seven years after one of the most chilling KO’s in UFC history would be hard to ignore. A TKO for the British MMA pioneer would crown the greatest year in his illustrious history.
Similarly, a finish from Mousasi over Belfort would not only legitimise his own title aspirations for 2017, but also likely land him a bonus. The momentum seems to be with the Dutchman right now, who must know a loss to ageing Belfort would be fatal at this point.
OSP vs. Manuwa? Flip a coin, throw an overhand and a high kick. See who lands first. Just don’t blink. While Stefan Struve’s size advantage over Daniel Omielanczuk should make for an easy not for the Dutchman – even though he has traditional had problems with much smaller heavyweights.
Hapless Russell Doane gets the job nobody wanted, rounding off the main card against Bektic. Who after all the positive press is yet to cash in any bonus bills in his faultless 10-0 career. But the sleeper for a Performance bonus has to be Roberts, who faces unbeaten KO king Perry, but has the pedigree to steal plenty of headlines.
Finally, to ‘Fight of the Night’ and there are two standout candidates for wars. British bantamweight Brad Pickett may be long in the tooth but he always rises to the occasion on home soil, while Brazilian Iuri Alcantara has got a little bit of mentor Wanderlei Silva coursing through his veins. This one could be a bit special.
But the sleeper on the card has to be Leon Edwards vs. Tumenov. The British ‘Rocky’ has got a terrific chin and doesn’t know how to take a backwards step. While the left hook happy Russian lets the bombs go early. This one will have the fans on their feet for sure.
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