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UFC 204 outcome pivotal for Belfort, Mousasi

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MANCHESTER, England

Saturday night’s UFC 204 co-main event between Vitor Belfort and Gegard Mousasi comes at a pivotal moment for the two fighters – one is focused on the present while the other is looking ahead to the future.

For Mousasi, the former Strikeforce champion and No. 9-ranked middleweight, this is a fight that’s been a long time coming. He has wanted to fight “legend” Belfort since 2009, when they were on schedule to battle at a catchweight in Affliction.

RELATED: UFC 204 Countdown – Belfort vs Mousasi | UFC 204 Open Workout highlights | Predictions for UFC 204 | Pre-order UFC 204 digitally now

But this has nothing to do with the past for the Netherlands standout. Mousasi, 31, knows that to reach the promised land of a title fight, the road goes through Belfort.

“He’s a legend, he’s ranked No. 5 – it makes sense,” Mousasi said of his fight against Belfort at Manchester Arena. “Vitor’s No. 5, I’m No. 9 (in the UFC’s rankings). But with the oddsmakers, I’m favored to win. I don’t know how he can be No. 5 if I’m the favorite. I hope to be No. 5 and then we go after that.”

With Father Time catching up to Belfort, 39, “The Phenom” knows it’s all about the here-and-now.

“People have been expecting (me to retire) for my past seven fights. It’s amazing how the media has this expectation,” said Belfort, the former UFC light heavyweight champion. “I don’t have a plan — my plan is to be here right now, fight the good fight and fight the best guys. I don’t want to take any easy fights.

“I think most of us think about the past or the future. Through my career I’ve learned something that’s so special and helped to guide my life: Just live in the moment. I’m living this moment.”

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCT. 05: Vitor Belfort of Brazil holds an open training session for fans and media at the Manchester Arena. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCT. 05: Gegard Mousasi of The Netherlands holds an open training session for fans and media at the Manchester Arena. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)With the two fighters focused on different things, it makes their crossroads clash so intriguing. Both know that, in a crowded middleweight division, nothing less than a win is acceptable to reach whatever goal they have in place – be it big fights or a push towards the title. And with so many contenders set to square off in the coming weeks (former champion Chris Weidman vs Yoel Romero at UFC 205; former champ Luke Rockhold vs “Jacare” Souza a few weeks later in Australia), it may take more than a victory.

“I think (Vitor’s) not at his best but I think he’s adjusted from (past) losses,” Mousasi said. “The guys that he fought were wrestlers. With me, he knows I’m going to fight stand up.

“I hope to finish him in one or two rounds”

Belfort has his own view.

“I think Gegard wants to fight the best guys. That’s an honor for me, having a guy who wants to fight me – one of the best guys in the sport as well. I admire fighters that want to fight the best guys, I have a lot of respect for competitors like that.

“I think (Mousasi) is wrong. Very, very wrong. I’m looking for victory. My name is victory – I’m Vitor!”

Jorge Mondaca is the managing editor of UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JorgeAMondaca

The Downes Side – UFC 204 Predictions

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That’s right lads and lasses, it’s time for another English version of the Downes Side! Live from Manchester Arena, the UFC brings some late night fights at UFC 204. In the main event of the evening, Michael Bisping defends his middleweight title for the first time against Dan Henderson. We’ll examine that fight and a few others.

LEON EDWARDS VS. ALBERT TUMENOV

We start in the welterweight division with Leon Edwards and Albert Tumenov. A southpaw striker, “Rocky” Edwards defends significant strikes at a rate of 57.92%, which is about 56% higher than Rocky Balboa. Albert Tumenov saw his five-fight win streak disappear at the hands of a Gunnar Nelson neck crank back in May.

When you see an English fighter against a Russian one, the prejudiced one in you might jump to conclusions about wrestling. This time around you’re only half right. Both fighters have solid wrestling defense, but they’re not particularly adept offensively. Edwards hit some outside trip takedowns in his last fight, but it’s unlikely he’ll be able to hit those against Tumenov. In terms of striking, Edwards has great head movement, but underutilized leg movement. He plants himself heavy to the mat and doesn’t advance well. This especially happens when he overcommits on his left hand. Tumenov can be passive at times (that was his biggest mistake against Nelson), but his greatest attribute is his counterstriking. When he answers, he comes with fluid, powerful combinations. Tumenov gets back in the win column with a second round TKO.

STEFAN STRUVE VS. DANIEL OMIELANCZUK

Next we move to heavyweight for Stefan Struve and Daniel Omielanczuk. After a long layoff, Struve only needed 16Stefan Struve celebrates his win over <a href='../fighter/Antonio-Silva'>Antonio Silva</a> at Fight Night Rotterdam“ align=“right“ /> seconds to dispatch Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in his return to action. Stepping in on short notice, Omielanczuk puts his three-fight win streak on the line. A heavy handed southpaw, has also has nine career submission victories.</p><p>Everyone talks about Struve’s reach advantage, but he rarely takes advantage of it. It’s just not his style. Instead of staying on the outside and throwing straight punches, he prefers to fight on the inside. While counterintuitive, his height makes it very easy for him to sneak in knees to the face. This is one of his preferred techniques, especially as a counter to charging opponents. Omielanczuk could take advantage of Struve’s relative passivity, but his strikes can be looping and wide. Even if Struve doesn’t batter him with 1s and 2s, the “Skyscraper” is a more refined striker. Both fighters have sub 50% defense, so expect a slugfest. At the end of the day, Struve’s superior technique and newfound power elevate him to a first round knockout.</p></div><div readability=RELATED: Watch Bisping vs. Hendo 1 from UFC 100 free | Watch Bisping win the title vs. Luke Rockhold free | Bisping reaping rewards from years of sacrifice | Henderson happy to re-write retirement script

OVINCE SAINT PREUX VS. JIMI MANUWA

That brings us to light heavyweight for Ovince Saint Preux and Jimi Manuwa. Saint Preux returns to the Octagon after going the distance with Jon Jones. Powerful, but unorthodox, OSP confuses opponents with his irregular attack rhythm. Manuwa’s two career losses have come in his last three fights. One was against Anthony Johnson and the other was to Alexander Gustafsson, but the “Poster Boy” could use some momentum.

Manuwa and OSP do best when they take control. They prefer to move forward and dictate engagements instead of sitting back and countering. Manuwa especially seems to know only one speed and one direction. OSP, on the other hand, prefers to lull opponents to sleep with inaction and then strike. Much like Struve-Omielanczuk, these two fighters also have sub 50% striking defense. Manuwa likes to stand in the pocket a bit too much, but that could be a strength in this fight. OSP may have gone five rounds with Jon Jones, but the pace of the action was muted. OSP actually threw more strikes in his three round fight against Rafael Cavalcante than in five rounds against Jones. Manuwa may lose the first round, but his pace wears down OSP en route to the upset decision victory.

MICHAEL BISPING VS. DAN HENDERSON

Time for the main event! Michael Bisping has had a storied career in the UFC. Even though he’s currently tied with Georges St-Pierre for the most wins in UFC history, few thought he’d ever receive a title shot, much less become champion. Not only did he win the title, he exacted revenge against Luke Rockhold. Now, six years removed from being a victim of one of the most famous KOs in history, he has another shot at redemption against Dan Henderson.

At lot changes in six years…except for Dan Henderson. He may be older and have some more miles on him, but his power and ability to change a fight with a single strike hasn’t changed. Bisping, however, has elevated his game. He moves around a lot more and hides his strikes with sharp angles and feints. The only problem is that he wastes a lot of punches (his accuracy rate is 38.77%). In his last 10 fights, the only people Bisping has finished are Cung Le and Luke Rockhold. Le gassed and Rockhold fell victim to his own hubris. To win, Bisping has to stay disciplined and dart in and out for five rounds. Henderson needs to connect with one big punch. Bisping’s had a fairy tale story, but this weekend it turns into a nightmare. Dan Henderson strikes again with a second round knockout.

That wraps up another fairy tale edition of the Downes Side (probably one of the Grimm ones). Follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes. Also, don’t forget to leave your own predictions, analysis, analogues or favorite analogies on the page here.

UFC Unfiltered: Dan Henderson joins pod

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MMA legend Dan Henderson joins the show to discuss his UFC 204 Middleweight title fight against Michael Bisping, his retirement plans, and the evolution of the fight game. Later, actor Thomas Haden Church comes in-studio to discuss his new HBO show Divorce, working with Sarah Jessica Parker, going to Marlon Brando’s house, Bisping vs. Henderson, and secrets of the hotel industry, amongst other things.

Some of the highlights from Episode 32 of UFC Unfiltered include:

Hendo on the fans helping him get a title shot

Hendo will definitely retire after UFC 204

Hendo regrets not being able to test himself against Jon Jones

THC on his early days in radio

THC on SJP and HBO’s Divorce

The Ultimate Fighter 24: Episode 6 Recap

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It’s starting to become a theme on this season of The Ultimate Fighter, as the seventh opening round matchup ended in a finish, with Matt „Danger“ Schnell sinking in a second round submission to finish Matt Rizzo. For those keeping count at home, that’s seven fights and seven finishes thus far in the tournament of champions to determine who will face flyweight king Demetrious Johnson.

Schnell and Rizzo engaged in a back and forth war over two rounds in the best ground battle of the season, but before the two fighters locked horns in the Octagon, they both gave some background on how they got here.

For Matt Schnell, his journey to The Ultimate Fighter actually started when he was just a kid in Louisiana, where he emulated just about everything his older brother did while he was growing up. That meant Schnell was fighting and, according to him, it was happening almost every day for any number of reasons. If somebody looked at him sideways, Schnell would confront the person, and before long, it ended up with fists being thrown. He eventually channeled that aggression into mixed martial arts.

Four years ago, Schnell tasted his first bit of fame after he appeared on a MTV reality series called „Caged,“ which documented the lives of four up and coming MMA fighters as they made their way through the amateur circuit. Schnell was one of the most memorable cast members, and his star power earned him a lot of attention during the early part of his career. Of course that backfired on him after Schnell had somewhat unrealistic expectations about his course to get to the UFC, and after a 3-2 start to his career, he was forced to re-evaluate and make some adjustments.

Among the changes he made, Schnell ended up moving to Florida, where he began training full time with American Top Team – the camp responsible for welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes and fellow Ultimate Fighter cast mate Jaime Alvarez. Schnell came to the Florida-based camp thanks to his friendship with UFC lightweight Dustin Poirier, who also grew up in Louisiana before relocating to American Top Team a few years back.

Since then, Schnell has put together an impressive winning streak while also becoming the interim flyweight champion for Legacy Fighting Championships out of Texas. When he’s not fighting, Schnell is trying to find time to spend with his girlfriend Morgan, who he’s been with for the past four years but it’s all been at a distance. Schnell revealed that his girlfriend lives in St. Louis, so he’s forced to be away from her most of the time except in those rare moments when he can fly in to town to spend time with her. His long-term goal is to win the show, win the UFC title and hopefully find a way that they can be together full-time.

As Schnell prepared for the fight this week, he used coach Henry Cejudo to great effect, considering his opponent Matt Rizzo comes from a wrestling background and would likely be looking for the takedown at some point in their fight. So Schnell worked with Cejudo and the rest of the coaches to get ready for that kind of wrestling attack so he could counter and look for the knockout on the feet.

As for Rizzo, the 30-year-old Pennsylvania native comes to the UFC as the Ring of Combat flyweight champion and the owner of a 9-2 record compiled while facing some tough east coast competition throughout his career. Rizzo lives at home with his parents along with his fiancée as he tries to make it as a professional fighter. Rizzo also holds a full-time job as a security system installer, and then as soon as he punches the clock, he’s making a bee line to the gym, where he can continue to chase his dreams as a mixed martial artist

As noted by his opponent, Rizzo actually started wrestling when he was just four years old, so grappling is something that just runs through his veins. He also developed into a very slick Brazilian jiu-jitsu stylist after falling in love with mixed martial arts. Now Rizzo is trying to put it all together for a run in the UFC, and his golden opportunity came with The Ultimate Fighter this season.

MATT SCHNELL VS. MATT RIZZO

ROUND 1

Just like his coaches predicted, Matt Schnell didn’t have to wait very long for Matt Rizzo to swoop in and start looking for the takedown. Rizzo kept up with relentless pressure as he pushed Schnell up against the cage, but he couldn’t get the takedown until he nearly surrendered a guillotine choke as they fell to the mat. Schnell had his arms wrapped tight around Rizzo’s neck, but to his credit, the Ring of Combat champion toughed his way through the submission and eventually popped his head out to escape. Rizzo continuously looked for the takedown throughout the opening round, but Schnell did a great job scrambling out of bad positions and never getting locked on the ground with the wrestler. Finally, after Rizzo did manage to plant his opponent on the mat with less than a minute to go, Schnell once again looked for an escape, but he used a triangle choke that nearly got locked up before the round came to an end.

ROUND 2

The second round started out much like the first, with Rizzo shooting for a takedown, but he made a critical timing error and Schnell was able to sprawl out before landing on top when they hit the mat. Schnell didn’t maintain the position for very long, however, as Rizzo quickly escaped and then managed to get both of his opponent’s legs and landing yet another takedown. Rizzo was back on top but that maneuver ended up costing him dearly because Schnell once again saw the opening for the triangle choke. Except this time there was no bell to stop the submission from ending the fight. Schnell locked up the hold and Rizzo had no choice but to tap out.

Matt Schnell wins by second round submission via triangle choke and he’s moving on to the next round.

Rankings: Lineker, Moreno make noise in latest official release

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While TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt continue to campaign for the next title shot against Dominick Cruz, John Lineker made a big statement in the bantamweight division with his win against John Dodson at Fight Night Portland.

Lineker moves up a spot to No. 2 in the rankings, dropping Rafael Assuncao to No. 3. Jimmie Rivera continues to climb since his massive win over Urijah Faber at UFC 203. “El Terror” takes the No. 4 position and drops Bryan Caraway down to No. 5.

After the event, Lineker made his case to Megan Olivi as to why he believes he should be the one to face Cruz next.

“I think I proved to the UFC that I can do this,” Lineker said. “I’ve been winning fight after fight. But if they think I need to fight another fight, I’ll do that also.”

RELATED: Complete official UFC rankings | Watch Lineker backstage interview at Fight Night Portland | Brandon Moreno interview

Brandon Moreno’s upset victory in his UFC debut against Louis Smolka shook up the flyweight division. Moreno is a competitor on this season of The Ultimate Fighter and his early exit allowed him to step in for Sergio Pettis on short notice against Smolka, who had won four in a row.

PORTLAND, OR - OCT. 01: Brandon Moreno of Mexico celebrates after submitting Louis Smolka in their flyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at the Moda Center. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)Moreno’s huge win vaults him into the rankings at 125 pounds. He takes the No. 15 spot and drops Smolka four slots down to No. 13. John Moraga, Matheus Nicolau, Dustin Ortiz and Just Scoggins all jumped ahead of Smolka.

Will Brooks took a tough defeat against Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira, who missed weight by 5 1/2 pounds. The loss dropped Brooks from the No. 12 spot in the lightweight division all the way out of the Top 15 ranks.

Rashid Magomedov reappeared in the lightweight rankings at No. 15 and Gilbert Melendez (No. 11), Francisco Trinaldo, Al Iaquinta and Evan Dunham all jumped up one spot.

Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrinoUFC

Cormier-Johnson 2 set for UFC 206 in Toronto

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Since his first fight with Daniel Cormier in May of 2015, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson has gone on a tear, scoring three consecutive knockouts over Jimi Manuwa, Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira. On Saturday, December 10, Johnson will get a second shot at the current UFC light heavyweight champion, as they meet in a UFC 206 bout at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario.

Cormier made the announcement on Wednesday’s edition of UFC Tonight on FS1.

Tickets for UFC 206 go on sale on October 20 at 10 am ET. For more information on tickets and to register for the opportunity to buy tickets before the general public, visit www.UFC.com/Toronto

In their first bout at UFC 187 in Las Vegas, Cormier survived an early knockdown to submit Johnson via rear naked choke in the second round. After that bout, which earned Cormier the vacant UFC light heavyweight crown, he won an instant classic over Alexander Gustafsson and decisioned Brazilian icon Anderson Silva. Now the two-time U.S. Olympian will throw hands once more with Georgia’s “Rumble,” who is fresh from a 13-second victory over Teixeira in August, and eager to even the score with Cormier and take the 205-pound title.

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 23: (R-L) Daniel Cormier kicks Anthony Johnson in their UFC light heavyweight championship bout during the UFC 187 event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)Five other UFC 206 bouts were made official on Wednesday.

In a women’s strawweight bout, Nova Uniao prospect Poliana Botelho will bring a three-fight winning streak into her Octagon debut when she faces Canadian fighting pioneer Valerie Letourneau, a former world title challenger from Montreal.

Flyweight contenders will clash in Toronto, as the No. 7-ranked Zach Makovsky squares off with the No. 10-ranked John Moraga, both intent on stopping recent losing skids.

After a stirring UFC debut in July that saw him face Tony Ferguson on short notice and pick up Fight of the Night honors, lightweight prospect Lando Vannata will make the walk a second time, this time with a full training camp, when he meets seasoned Canadian striker John “The Bull” Makdessi.

Plus, “The Quebec Kid,” Olivier Aubin-Mercier returns in a lightweight matchup against Drew Dober, and also at 155 pounds, Rustam “Tiger” Khabilov puts his three-fight winning streak on the line against the two-fight victory streak of Toronto native Jason Saggo.

Stay tuned to UFC.com for more fight announcements.

Josh Samman, 28, made his mark on the sport

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SIOUX FALLS, SD - JULY 12: Josh Samman steps onto the scale during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at Denny Sanford Premier Center. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)The UFC sends its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Josh Samman, who passed away on Oct. 5. He was 28.

A popular figure in the mixed martial arts world who was embraced by the community not just for his fighting ability but for his writing and accessibility to fans and his fellow media members, the Tallahassee native was always searching for the next adventure, whether in the Octagon or in life.

A martial artist since the age of 16, Samman turned pro in 2007 and was a quick study, winning nine of his first 11 bouts. That success earned him a place on the cast of Season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter after several tries at securing a spot on the reality series.

Samman was a writer for UFC.com. Read some of his work: Three-part series on UFC’s Jeff Novitzky – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 | Samman’s Corner: Behind the Lines, Heavy MattersGetting the call

On TUF 17, Samman won three of his four bouts, losing only to eventual winner Kelvin Gastelum in the semifinals, and thanks to that run, he received a UFC fight against Kevin Casey on the season finale card on April 13, 2013.

Samman won that bout against Casey, and two more over Eddie Gordon and Caio Magalhaes,, garnering him Performance of the Night bonuses before losing back-to-back fights to Tamdan McCrory and Tim Boetsch in 2015-16 that left his final pro record at 12-5.

The Gordon fight was particularly notable, as it wasn’t just one of the most notable knockouts of 2014, but it also took place on Dec. 6 of that year. It would have been the 24th birthday of Samman’s longtime girlfriend, Hailey Bevis, who tragically died in a car accident in August 2013.

“I saw the date on the UFC schedule and I said there’s no way that I can pass this up and not fight on that card,” he said after the bout.

Samman chronicled their relationship in his 2016 memoir, “The Housekeeper: Love, Death & Prizefighting,” a book that showed the middleweight prospect as a talented writer with a compelling tale to tell. But it wasn’t just a life story to him.

“It’s not an autobiography,” he said earlier this year. “It’s not something chronicling my whole life from beginning to end. It’s a memoir. It’s to connect with folks that are going through similar life experiences.”

Samman didn’t have an easy road in fighting or in life, but he battled through and hoped that telling of his struggles would aid those fighting the same demons.

“It’s all human stuff,” Samman said. “All things that we deal with. We all eventually deal with a loved one dying. We all deal with addiction, whether it’s ourselves or loved ones or whatever. We all deal with self-doubt and rejection and heartbreak. This is my story. For me, the purpose of life is to ride this journey and share it with people. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

ORLANDO, FL - DEC. 18: Josh Samman waits backstage during the UFC weigh-in inside the Orange County Convention Center. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)His ability to share his story endeared him to family, friends, his fighting peers as well as total strangers. Samman connected to people on multiple levels like few fighters do, and he kept them up to date with his adventures and insights as he interacted on social media and wrote for several outlets, including UFC.com.

Samman was also a gifted musician and songwriter and he ran a successful amateur MMA promotion in Florida when he wasn’t in the gym preparing for a fight. He even visited Camp Abilities in Brockport, New York in the middle of his training camp for the Boetsch fight to work with blind and visually impaired children.

“I definitely have moments where I struggle, and there are good days and bad days, but I’m healthy and I’m functional, and when I’m doing stuff like this, it helps gives me perspective,” Samman explained. “Sometimes we are dealt crappy hands, and you just have to make the best of it. Not that these kids are any more or less fortunate than I am, because everyone has their battles and stuff that they go through, but it’s just about the perspective that you keep and making sure that you’re making the best of every situation. There are children here that can’t see, that can’t get around without a cane or without a guide, and they’re still walking around smiling all day, laughing, playing and living a happy life. So it’s not just them learning from me, it’s me learning from them as well.”

Those that knew him would say that they learned a lot from Josh Samman, who made a significant mark in only 28 years on the planet.

He will be missed.

According to a statement released by his parents, in conjunction with the AMR Group, on Wednesday, Samman’s cause of death has yet to be determined, pending an autopsy.

Bektic unfazed by multiple opponents

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MANCHESTER, England

Mirsad Bektic has endured a whirlwind week already – and it had nothing to do with his travel to the United Kingdom.

The Bosnian-born Bektic has had three different opponents for this weekend’s UFC 204. Originally, the American Top Team talent was scheduled to face Arnold Allen, but an injury forced him out and Jeremy Kennedy replaced him on the card earlier in the week. Unfortunately, Kennedy also got injured, and now Russell Doane has stepped up.

Not the ideal build-up for Bektic, for sure, but he’s not bothered.

“I don’t worry about it, I just focus on myself and I’m confident about my preparation and my team,” Bektic said. “We train for every style – left handed guy, right handed guy – it’s perfect, it’s going to bring out the best in me. I look forward to it.”

RELATED: Bektic matchup with Russell Doane | Fighter bio

Regardless of the opponent, many eyes will be on Bektic as he returns to the Octagon for the first time since May 2015. The 25-year-old featherweight is undefeated in 10 fights as a professional, including a 3-0 mark in the UFC. His bout against Doane opens up the Pay-Per-View portion of UFC 204, his most high-profile position yet on a UFC fight card.

“This is how I roll. I believe I am the best in all aspects of martial arts and I believe this is how you show it – you go through different things like this, different opponent changes, and you just show what’s up,” Bektic said. “Yeah, Russell Doane, he’s a tough kid. Very tough guy. Great at what he does but it’s me … I feel phenomenal, I feel like a champ.”

By the Numbers – UFC 204

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10
Current ranking of Michael Bisping on the UFC pound-for-pound list

199
UFC event where Michael Bisping scored a first round knockout of Luke Rockhold to become the UFC middleweight champion

17
Days notice “The Count” took the bout with then champion Rockhold as former champ Chris Weidman had to withdraw due to injury

2520
Days between Bisping’s upcoming bout against Dan Henderson at UFC 204 in Manchester, England and The Count’s previous bout in Manchester against Denis Kang at UFC 105<br />
19
Wins by Bisping inside the Octagon, tied with Georges St-Pierre for most in UFC history

5:23:40
Total Octagon time by Bisping, 3rd most in UFC history behind Georges St-Pierre’s 5:28:12 and Frankie Edgar’s 6:02:49

RELATED: Watch Bisping vs. Hendo 1 from UFC 100 free | Watch Bisping win the title vs. Luke Rockhold free | Bisping reaping rewards from years of sacrifice | Henderson happy to re-write retirement script

8
Knockdowns landed by The Count in the UFC including two against Rockhold and one against former champ Anderson Silva in January

1,414
Significant strikes landed by Bisping, most in UFC history

100+
Significant strikes landed by Bisping against four separate opponents – Yoshihiro Akiyama, Thales Leites, Jason Miller and Anderson Silva, only UFC middleweight to land 100+ sig. strikes in two or more bouts

67
Significant striking defense percentage by Bisping, 3rd best in UFC middleweight history (min. 5 fights and 350 opp. att.)

1.77
Significant strike differential rate per minute in favor of Bisping, 6th best in UFC middleweight history (min. 5 fights)

3
The Ultimate Fighter season Bisping won as a light heavyweight

13
Current ranking of Dan Henderson as UFC middleweight

12
Number of current or former UFC champions that Henderson has fought across his pro career – Bisping, Vitor Belfort,Murilo Bustamante, Daniel Cormier, Rashad Evans, Rich Franklin, Quinton Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Carlos Newton, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mauricio Rua and Anderson Silva

199
UFC event where Henderson scored a second round knockout of Hector Lombard with a standing back-elbow

100
UFC event where Henderson scored one of the most famous knockouts in UFC history against Bisping in the second round of their The Ultimate Fighter 9 rival coaches’ bout

25
Wins by Henderson in UFC/PRIDE/Strikeforce/WEC competition, 2nd most wins in combined history behind Wanderlei Silva’s 27

15
KO/TKOs by Henderson in UFC/PRIDE/Strikeforce/WEC competition, tied with Mauricio Rua for 3rd most by any fighter in combined history behind Mirko Cro Cop’s 18 and Wanderlei Silva’s 19

20
Knockdowns by Henderson in UFC/PRIDE/Strikeforce/WEC, 2nd most in combined history behind Wanderlei Silva’s 27

48
Takedowns by Henderson in UFC/PRIDE/Strikeforce, 4th most in combined history at 183 pounds or heavier

87.5
Percentage of those takedowns by Henderson started in the clinch

1992, 1996
Years that Henderson competed as a member of the United States’ Greco-Roman wrestling team

5
Current ranking of Vitor Belfort as a UFC middleweight

14
Finishes by “The Phenom” inside the Octagon, tied with Anderson Silva for most in UFC history

12
KO/TKOs by Belfort, most knockouts in UFC history

4
Knockouts by The Phenom stem from kicks, tied for 2nd most in UFC history behind Donald Cerrone’s 5

3
Consecutive knockouts by Belfort stem from kicks – Bisping, Rockhold and Henderson, only UFC fighter to do so

13
First round finishes by Belfort inside the Octagon, most in UFC history

3:35
Average fight time by Belfort as a UFC middleweight, 2nd best in UFC middleweight history behind Drew McFedries’ 2:07 (min. 5 fights)

9
Current ranking of Gegard Mousasi as a UFC middleweight

20
Career KO/TKOs by Mousasi including his most recent first round knockout of Thiago Santos at UFC 200, which earned a Performance of the Night bonus

12
Career submissions by Mousasi including his rear naked choke of Mark Munoz at UFC Fight Night: Munoz vs. Mousasi, which earned a Performance of the Night bonus

82.1
Career finishing rate percentage by Mousasi across his 39 pro wins

1.37
Significant strikes absorbed per minute rate by Mousasi, best among active UFC middleweights (min. 5 fights)

+1.69
Significant strike differential per minute rate by Mousasi, 3rd best among active UFC middleweights (min. 5 fights)

82.8
Takedown defense percentage by Mousasi, 2nd best among active UFC middleweights and 4th best in UFC middleweight history (min. 5 fights and 20 opp. att.)

The Ultimate Fighter 24: Ep. 6 Preview

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The newest season of The Ultimate Fighter has not disappointed when it comes to action inside the Octagon, with six fights and six finishes thus far in the flyweight tournament to determine the next challenger to Demetrious Johnson‘s title. Last week, Ronald Candido pulled off an incredible comeback win to submit Jaime Alvarez to tie up the competition between Team Benavidez and Team Cejudo at three wins apiece, as the opening round starts moving towards a conclusion.

This week, in the seventh opening round matchup, No. 6 seed Matt Schnell from Team Cejudo takes on No. 11 seed Matt Rizzo from Team Benavidez.

Schnell is actually the Legacy Fighting Championships interim flyweight champion, a title he won after he was originally supposed to fight Damacio Page for the title until an injury knocked him out of their scheduled bout. Obviously, both Page and Schnell ended up representing Legacy FC in the tournament this season, with one as champion and the other as interim champion. Unfortunately for Page, he’s already been eliminated and he’s currently nursing a broken hand, so Schnell will look to trump him as he attempts to move into the next round of the tournament.

If Schnell’s name sounds familiar outside of his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter, it’s probably because he also appeared on a reality show called “Caged” that aired on MTV back in 2012. The show focused on four up and coming mixed martial arts hopefuls, with Schnell among the cast that made it on to the 10-episode series. Following the show, Schnell had aspirations to make his way to the UFC, but things didn’t turn out the way he had planned.

RELATED: Recap last week’s episode | Meet tonight’s fighters – Matt Rizzo | Matt Schnell | Finish streak still alive

While the reality show gave him some notoriety and fame early in his fight career, Schnell also experienced the flipside of that equation – it meant anyone he faced during the early part of his professional career was going to know exactly who he was and they were going to try to expose the reality show contestant inside the cage. So instead of just making his way up the ranks as a young fighter, Schnell grew up with no element of surprise as he stepped into the cage with all his early opponents.

Still, Schnell put together a respectable record, with a 3-2 mark before he buckled down and started to really make a push in his career. Schnell eventually won his next six fights, including his victory to earn him the Legacy FC interim flyweight title, which in turn got him on the show. Add to that, Schnell grew up in Louisiana, and around the time that he was filming „Caged,“ he also became friends with future UFC lightweight star Dustin Poirier. The two fighters started to train together, but when Poirier moved to Florida to shift his camp to American Top Team, it left Schnell without a home. So a couple years ago, Schnell decided to join Poirier at American Top Team and that’s where he’s been ever since. Now Schnell is not only training with Poirier, but he also works with fellow castmate Jaime Alvarez as well as top 10-ranked UFC flyweight Kyoji Horiguchi and several other notable stars.

On the other side of the Octagon stands Matt Rizzo, a 30-year old fighter with a 9-2 record who competes in the Ring of Combat promotion in New Jersey. Rizzo is one of the older fighters in the competition, but he knows that this is his best chance to not only get into the UFC but to also potentially challenge for the flyweight title on his first day in the promotion.

Rizzo lives and trains out of a small gym in Pennsylvania called Revolution MMA. Before he found MMA, Rizzo grew up as a wrestler after following in his older brother’s footsteps on to the mat. Rizzo first picked up a pair of wrestling shoes when he was four years old, he continued with the sport all the way through college, and that’s when he discovered another form of grappling that he soon fell in love with as well – Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Once Rizzo got hooked on jiu-jitsu, it wasn’t long before he was looking at fighting as a possible career. Rizzo ended up turning pro back in 2012 and since that time he’s stayed pretty busy with 11 fights over the past four years before getting the call to compete on TUF. His championship comes from Ring of Combat – one of the most well respected and longest running regional promotions in the United States. Fighters like Chris Weidman and Uriah Hall cut their teeth in Ring of Combat, so Rizzo comes from a good promotional lineage before he got the call to join the UFC as part of the new season of the show.

As far as the matchup goes this week, Schnell is probably the more well rounded fighter, but Rizzo potentially has the best overall weapon. Rizzo is a master grappler with a lifetime of wrestling in his back pocket, not to mention a wealth of Brazilian jiu-jitsu knowledge at his disposal as well. Of course, Rizzo is no slouch on the feet, but he has to know that’s exactly where Schnell wants to keep this fight. Rizzo has the kind of wrestling that could put Schnell on the mat, looking up at the lights and breathing for air for 10 straight minutes until the fight is over. Of course, Schnell has very fast hands, quick feet and a devastating striking style that could negate Rizzo’s grappling. Schnell is also very well versed in submission grappling, so even if Rizzo takes him to the mat, it’s not easy sailing for the Pennsylvania native.

As we approach the final two fights of the opening round, can Schnell get the win and put Team Cejudo back in control, or will Rizzo pull off another upset and keep the momentum going from Team Benavidez?

Tune into the latest episode of The Ultimate Fighter at 10pm ET on FS1 to find out.

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