#UFC204 gave us plenty of amazing fights to watch. Nine of the 11 fights were finishes, and the main event featured a back-and-forth war between two legends of the sport in Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson. However, even though Bisping was able to successfully defend his belt, he was not the biggest winner of the night.
Gegard Mousasi fought brilliantly in the co-main event against Vitor Belfort. A fight that has been years in the making, Mousasi had to survive an early flurry from Belfort before he began picking the "Phenom" apart. Mousasi worked his game plan, outstruck Belfort 65-9, and secured an easy takedown for a second round TKO victory.
Mousasi has long been a skilled fighter in the middleweight division, but has struggled to find his breakthrough performance. A former Cage Warriors, DREAM and Strikeforce champion, Mousasi started his #UFC career 4-3, falling to Jacare Souza, Lyoto Machida and Uriah Hall. He could not seem to gain his footing and leap up the rankings as he had in other promotions.
However, the "Dreamcatcher" has finally found his groove, and now finds himself on a three-fight win streak. Belfort was the third, straight, talented, Brazilian fighter that Mousasi has beaten (Thales Leites and Thiago Santos), and he picked up his third "Performance of the Night" bonus, as well. Ranked ninth before UFC 204, Mousasi's streak has carried him into the top five of the middleweight rankings, swapping places with Belfort.
Mousasi is not the only fighter who made some major moves up the rankings.
Jimi Manuwa fought Ovince Saint Preux on the main card in Manchester. These light heavyweights both have title aspirations, and you could tell by the way they were fighting. While OSP was able to secure some takedowns and control Manuwa for much of the fight, the Brit's hands were just too powerful. Manuwa landed one of the gnarliest KO wins of the year against the top-five striker.
Many argue that if you beat a ranked fighter, you should automatically become ranked. That logic held true, and Manuwa moved from eight all the way up to number five, and has positioned himself well for a fight against some of the division's best.
The rest of the fights at UFC 204 caused some movement in the UFC rankings. Mirsad Bektic climbed to Number 13 after extending his undefeated record to 11-0. Albert Tumenov fell out of the top-15 after suffering his second, straight loss. Also, Daniel Omielanczuk dropped to Number 15 following his loss to Stefan Struve.
Despite all the change in the updated rankings, the real storyline is how both Mousasi and Manuwa have positioned themselves to fight some of their respective divisions' best fighters. Both could easily face a top-five opponent in their next bouts, and may only be one or two fights away from a title shot. UFC 204 may have been revenge for Bisping, but it was a rebirth for these two fighters.