UFC 85: True bedlam
UFC 85 was titled “Bedlam.” The name was appropriate as much for what went down leading up to the show as for anything that took place in the octagon.
The June 7. 2008 card at 02Arena in London originally featured a main event between Chuck Liddell and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
But Rua’s well-documented knee problems flared up, causing him to pull out of the fight. Liddell then pulled a hamstring and also had to cancel.
So James Irvin was called on to replace Liddell against Evans, but the oft-injured “Sandman” hurt a foot in training and had to pull out.
At that point, with no one left to make a viable light heavyweight main event, Evans was also shelved. Liddell-Evans was rescheduled for UFC 88 in September, which Evans won via second-round TKO.
The card appeared almost unsalvageable after Evans was pulled off the card. But as often happens, the UFC managed to pull a rabbit out of a hat and create a new headliner in the process. Former welterweight champion Matt Hughes agreed to fight up-and-coming Thiago Alves in a hastily constructed main event. Alves, a fearsome striker from the American Top Team camp in Florida, came into the match on a five-fight win streak, with his competition getting tougher each time out.
The 15,327 fans on hand witnessed Alves’ star turn. Alves physically overwhelmed the former champ, nearly finishing him in the first round. While Hughes survived the onslaught, Alves took care of business in the second, hitting a brutal knee followed by a series of ground strikes. Alves followed that victory with an October win over Josh Koscheck and will challenge Georges St. Pierre for the welterweight title in a UFC 100 co-feature.
Alves, who has been known to cut up to 25 lbs. to make the 170-lb. welterweight limit, clocked in at 174 pounds the day before the event and had to forfeit a portion of his purse. It was the second time Alves had issues with the cut, as he tested positive for a banned diuretic after his UFC 66 win over Tony DeSouza and was suspended for six months. The scheduling scramble didn’t just affect the main event. Paul Kelly had to pull out of his match with Jonathan Goulet due to a training injury, and Goulet asked out since he was coming off a brutal match in mid-April against Kuniyoahi Hironaka. Chris Leben, meanwhile, had to pull out of his scheduled fight with Michael Bisping due to visa issues and was replaced by Jason Day. Undercard fighters Ryo Chonan and Neil Wain also had to pull out with injuries.
Brandon Vera, coming off his first career loss (to Tim Sylvia), was TKOd by Fabricio Werdum in the first round. The loss caused Vera, who was once regarded as a rising heavyweight prospect, to drop to light heavyweight, where he has won two of three fights.
Quoteworthy: “This means everything to me. I remember watching Matt Hughes slamming people through the floor. I’m really, really happy.” – Alves, on defeating Hughes.
Antoni Hardonk def. Eddie Sanchez, KO, 4:15 r2
Paul Taylor def. Jess Liaudin, split decision
Luiz Cane def. Jason Lambert TKO, 2:07 R1
Kevin Burns def. Roan Carneiro, submission (triangle choke), 2:07 R2
Matt Wiman def. Thiago Tavares, KO, 1:57 R2
Martin Kampmann def. Jorge Rivera, submission (guillotine choke), 2:44 R1
Fabricio Werdum def. Brandon Vera, TKO, 4:40 R1
Thales Leites def. Nate Marquardt, split decision
Mike Swick def. Marcus Davis, unanimous decision
Michael Bisping def. Jason Day, TKO, 3:42 R1
Thiago Alves def. Matt Hughes, 1:02 R2