As expected, October didn’t turn out to be a month to remember in MMA. Save for a handful of particularly entertaining contests, the rest of the month was marred by the lack of available talent and the cancellation of an entire fight card in the Philippines.
What we did get, however, was the end of an era for “Hendo,” the continued rise of the “Platinum” one, an important win for “Hands of Stone” and the perseverance of “The Count.”
Here are the top five mixed martial arts fights that took place in the month of October.
5. Jimi Manuwa vs. Ovince Saint Preux
A back-and-forth opening round that proved how stiff the competition is just outside the elite four fighters at 205 pounds, Jimi Manuwa and Ovince Saint Preux fought hard to prove they deserved another opportunity at joining the standout fighters in the division.
Saint Preux, a well-rounded, powerful fighter, got the better of Manuwa in the opening round as he secured dominant positions and landed taxing strikes in the clinch. With the way the fight appeared to be going, Saint Preux seemed to be the betting favorite. Manuwa would have needed to pull off something big to prove he had a chance.
And so he did. After eating a handful of kicks from OSP, Manuwa showed he had no interest in competing in a close-range grappling match with his larger foe. He fought back with a pair of damaging kicks of his own before unleashing a haymaker of a right hand, followed up by a left hook that leaves OSP in a heap of unconsciousness.
4. Gegard Mousasi vs. Vitor Belfort
Receiving his latest opportunity to shine against a noteworthy top contender in the UFC, Gegard Mousasi made sure he wouldn’t let this opportunity slip out of his grasps as he’d already done twice before against Ronaldo Souza and Lyoto Machida. Mousasi knew he was taken on a version of Vitor Belfort a fraction as dangerous as the one that frequented the cage in 2013, stalking the Brazilian around the cage as he wisely picked his shots.
Belfort, though aged and shopworn after two decades inside the cage, still remains a dangerous fighter inside the Octagon. Not quite as dangerous, but a surefire threat to anybody who opts to enter the cage with him. He showed flurries and semblances of yesteryear, but inevitably gave way to Father Time and his undefeated record.
3. John Lineker vs. John Dodson
As we neared a contest between John Lineker and John Dodson, many of us had the same question we always do when the Brazilian bantamweight is scheduled for action: Would his opponent really consider getting into a slugfest with “Hands of Stone”?
Foolish enough to consider their odds in a firefight, mixed martial artists like Michael McDonald and Francisco Rivera proved, for the nth time in however many years, that waging this sort of war against the 5-foot-2 slugger was not the way to go.
Backed by some of the craftiest minds in the industry, Dodson didn’t take this route — opting to stay on his bike and try to defeat Lineker with the sort of movement that is inherently designed to give such a stationary fighter fits. Dodson darted in and out of range, though never quite effective enough to land the sort of damaging shots to sway enough of the judges in his favor.
What’s more, Lineker proved he could hold his own against such a mobile opponent, which should provide a bit of hope as he inches his way closer to big-time matchups against T.J. Dillashaw or Dominick Cruz.
2. Mike Perry vs. Danny Roberts
Easily one of the more polarizing fighters making a name for himself in the UFC today, “Platinum” Mike Perry is getting people to take notice — and it’s not just for his antics outside the cage. Perry is as much bite as he is bark, and he proved it once more in his sophomore appearance inside the Octagon. If not for an instant-classic between Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson in the night’s headlining slot, Perry’s clash with Danny Roberts likely would have warranted Fight of the Night honors at UFC 204.
Round 1 was nearly all Perry, who used his heavy punching power to keep Roberts backing up. But Roberts would not be denied a bit of success of his own with some sneaky left hands. The fight nearly came to an end in the opening round, but the buzzer saved Roberts from his own demise.
Roberts managed to bounce back tremendously in Round 2, nearly doing enough to secure the frame before Perry landed some crushing shots toward the end of the round. The Englishman bounced back again in Round 3, this time taking advantage of his tired opponent whose strikes were coming in less and less.
But just as Roberts was nearing the TKO win, Perry landed the fight-ending shots of his own. While the victory was somewhat marred by a late stoppage from Marc Goddard, Perry’s second win in the UFC cemented him as a fighter to watch moving forward.
1. Michael Bisping vs. Dan Henderson
A matchup that originally brought a litany of emotions when first announced eventually brought upon a slew of different feelings when it culminated at UFC 204 in early October.
Dan Henderson, an aged fighter who had no business competing inside the Octagon for a UFC title given his recent lack of ample success, nearly walked away with the UFC middleweight title as he called it a career in mixed martial arts. Pundits and analysts alike generally felt this was Michael Bisping’s fight to win. Taking on a fighter with essentially one weapon left in his arsenal, Bisping merely needed to avoid the big right hand of his opponent to ensure victory would be his in front of home crowd in Manchester. The better part of the opening round seemed to reaffirm such a thought, as “The Count” danced his way around his opponent, peppering shots and darting in and out.
But then came the first right hand. Just as it did at UFC 100 seven years prior, Henderson’s “H-Bomb” floored Bisping. Only this time Bisping would survive, rebounding with a solid effort in Round 2 to prove the right hand hadn’t shifted what predictable course we’d all mapped out.
But then came the second right hand. Again, Bisping was on his back, fighting to stay alive (not literally) against a man capable of turning out the lights.
Showcasing the grit that allowed him to become champion after a decade-long journey inside the Octagon, Bisping survived and earned himself a unanimous decision verdict. Only Henderson and a vocal minority of watchers felt the American had done enough to get the nod, making way for another eternal argument in the annals of MMA.