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London, England – An army of Brits currently competing in the Ultimate Fighting Championship(R) organisation have come out in force and unanimously backed countryman Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping to overcome Dan Henderson at UFC 100(R) on Saturday, July 11 in Las Vegas.


Hardy, Kelly, Etim, Pearson, Taylor and Hathaway come out fighting as Bisping flies British flag

London, England – An army of Brits currently competing in the Ultimate Fighting Championship(R) organisation have come out in force and unanimously backed countryman Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping to overcome Dan Henderson at UFC 100(R) on Saturday, July 11 in Las Vegas.

Middleweight contenders Bisping and Henderson will draw battle lines in a three-round contest at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, both well aware that victory could result in a shot at the prestigious UFC Middleweight Title.

Bisping (18-1) is a former light-heavyweight contender and Ultimate Fighter(R) winner. The Manchester mauler is now unbeaten as a hot-streaking middleweight contender, boasting three consecutive Octagon(R) victories. The 30-year-old poster boy for UK mixed martial arts will look to continue his rapid rise towards title contention with a landmark victory over Henderson at UFC 100.

Henderson (24-7) remains one of the most recognisable and dangerous figures in mixed martial arts today. A former two-time Olympic wrestler, Henderson has utilised his top-tier wrestling experience to become one of MMA’s greatest fighters. Boasting career wins over Antonio Nogueira, Wanderlei Silva, Vitor Belfort and Rich Franklin, Henderson is the only fighter in PRIDE history to hold two belts simultaneously in separate weight divisions and starts favourite at UFC 100.

While well aware of the task facing British MMA’s torchbearer, Britain’s UFC standouts remain utterly confident in Bisping’s ability to defeat Henderson.

Nottingham’s Dan ‘The Outlaw’ Hardy (22-6, 1 NC) is fresh off his own crunch clash with Marcus Davis at UFC 99 and understands some of the pressure Bisping faces on July 11. Nevertheless, Hardy believes the improvements Bisping has made will see him through.

“My prediction is Bisping by unanimous decision,” explained ‘The Outlaw’. “I see the fight being a back-and-forth battle, with Bisping avoiding big haymakers and fighting out of the clinch quite a lot. I can’t see Henderson getting stopped, but I think Mike will outwork him and land the better shots. Bisping will steadily land quality strikes on Dan and avoid getting put on his back.

”A Bisping win will be a huge step for UK MMA. Not only do we now have fighters that can compete at the top level but, as Mike will hopefully prove on July 11, we can also threaten title contention. This will open the doorway for other up-and-coming UK fighters to one day hold titles in the UFC.”

One of those up-and-coming UK fighters is gym-mate Paul ‘Tellys’ Kelly, 10-1 and unbeaten as a lightweight. Having progressed alongside Bisping from the start, Kelly is better positioned than most to assess his stablemate’s chances on July 11.

“I’m not being biased because we’re teammates, but I truly believe Mike will dominate Henderson,” admitted Kelly, who defeated Rolando Delgado at UFC 99.

“With the form that Mike is showing right now and the shape that he’s in, I don’t see how many middleweights can beat him. He’s only a couple of steps away from a title now and I’ve never seen him hungrier. I’m convinced he’ll be holding that UFC middleweight title by the end of the year.

“This is the best version of Mike Bisping that I’ve ever seen in my life. He’s never looked this sharp or determined for all the time I’ve known him. We’ve had a great camp and he’s been awesome in every area.

“The Mike Bisping that we all see in the gym is unbeatable at middleweight. He’s too fit, too strong and too good for all of them. Mike will do well to stop Dan – because he’s as tough as anyone out there – but I am one million per cent sure that Mike wins.”

Similarly confident is fellow Liverpudlian lightweight Terry Etim, 13-2 and widely considered one of the hottest young prospects in the UFC. Like Hardy and Kelly, Etim also enjoyed success at UFC 99 in Germany, as he submitted Justin Buchholz in the second round of a 155-pound bout.

Etim believes that British dominance will continue on July 11.

“I see Mike taking the fight and winning in style,” assessed Etim. “I think it’s a great fight for Mike in terms of styles and I see him coming out on top.

“Mike just has to do what he always does. He needs to use his footwork well and avoid Henderson’s takedowns. Even if Henderson does take Mike down, I can still see Mike just getting straight back up.

“Mike is in his prime right now and he seems to be getting better with each and every fight. I’ve got no doubt he’ll raise his game even further against Henderson. This is Mike’s time now. Henderson was a double-champion in PRIDE and beating him will be a massive scalp for Mike.

“A win for Mike will be absolutely massive for British MMA. We’ve shown over the last few events and on The Ultimate Fighter just how quickly this sport is progressing in the UK and Bisping beating Henderson will just be the cherry on top of the cake.”

A direct product of Bisping’s tutelage on series nine of The Ultimate Fighter, Ross ‘The Real Deal’ Pearson (11-3) has experienced ‘The Count’s intense training firsthand. Winner of the lightweight finale, Pearson knows all about securing victory stateside.

“This is Mike’s time to shine now,” said Sunderland’s Pearson. “He’s proven himself in the UFC with wins over some good guys and I now think he’s ready to take on the elite level. Henderson has shown time and time again that he’s one of the best fighters in MMA history, but I believe Mike is ready to beat him and shock a lot of doubters.

“Before The Ultimate Fighter I had no idea how good Mike was. I’d always looked up to him as a fighter, but I never truly knew how good he was before I started training with him. It was a complete shock to me when I discovered just how good Mike was in all departments - stand-up, wrestling and jiu-jitsu. Mike wasn’t even in fighting shape during the show and I was still amazed at some of the stuff he could do.”

Walsall welterweight ‘Relentless’ Paul Taylor (10-4-1, 1 NC) has developed in the UFC almost in tandem with Bisping. Since making his Octagon debut at UFC 70 in Manchester, Taylor has gone on to share a further three fight cards with Brit hero Bisping. A major fan favourite himself, Taylor expects Bisping to elevate himself to superstardom with a win over Henderson.

“I believe Mike will show the world just how good he is against Henderson,” said Taylor, back to winning ways with a victory over Peter Sobotta at UFC 99. “A lot of people are going to be surprised at how Mike deals with Henderson.

“Bisping needs to be wary of Henderson’s big right hand and his wrestling ability, but I’m sure he’s got all bases covered there. So long as Mike can fight the fight he needs to fight, I don’t see anything other than a Bisping victory. Mike is the younger, fresher and quicker man and I believe he’ll make all those things count on the night.

“A Bisping win would be brilliant for MMA in this country. On July 11 we’ll have one of our own go over to Vegas for UFC 100 and beat one of the most respected fighters in the game. This could be huge for the sport in Britain.”

Finally, Brighton talent John Hathaway (12-0) finds himself in a unique position when weighing up the July 11 clash between Bisping and Henderson. Still only 21 years of age, Hathaway grew up watching and following the progress of both men set to appear at UFC 100.

“I’ve been a fan of both Mike and Dan for many years now and I can’t wait to see them go up against each other,” said Hathaway, still unbeaten following a win over Rick Story at UFC 99. “I’m backing Mike to win and believe if he follows the game plan he’ll walk away with the victory.

“I think Bisping will do really well against Henderson, so long as he can keep the fight standing and control Dan with his footwork. He needs to stay away from the clinch game and use his better stand-up. I’m sure he’ll have a perfect game plan figured out for Henderson and he just needs to stick to it for every second of the fight.

“Beating Henderson will make a massive statement. Dan is a former champion and considered one of the toughest guys in mixed martial arts. It’s great to have a British guy on the main card at UFC 100. That’s a massive achievement in itself.”