Typically, a champion defends against the top contender. At UFC 204, we will see Michael Bisping defend for the first time against No.13 Dan Henderson for reasons some may not fully appreciate. Essentially, in a few days, a legend of the sport will get his last crack at UFC gold.
I have to admit, when Bisping won the title and proclaimed himself as the champion, I kind of squinted because he just made it there. He isn’t Demetrious Johnson. In his “I call the shots” attitude, he wants to avenge the UFC 100 highlight-reel loss to Henderson. I understand he wants to even the score, he’s even the favorite according to Vegas, but you can’t erase history. It happened. Move on and deal with the best of the best.
Isn’t that what champions do?
There is a lot of movement happening in the middleweight division. Former champion Rockhold will battle his Strikeforce nemesis Ronaldo Souza Nov. 27. Weidman, also a former champion is scheduled against Yoel Romero Nov. 12. Meanwhile, the Brazilian warhorse Vitor Belfort takes on Gegard Mousasi soon on Oct. 8., leaving the Australian Robert Whittaker and Derek Brunson to collide Nov. 27.
That is the middleweight division’s top 12, which brings us to the heart of the matter for Bisping and Henderson.
I think this fight is happening for the fans. Dan Henderson, at the age of 46, has fought everyone from welterweight all the way to heavyweight, since UFC 17. He’s fought everywhere and has become a fan favorite like Randy Couture. The fans will pony up to see his last fight.
To see Henderson go out with a regular fight would be a disservice to the man who helped make MMA what it is today.
So let’s file the “revenge” angle for another day. UFC 204 is an ode, a tip of the hat to a rockstar of the sport who is deserving of a final performance on the big stage.