The UFC is quite a busy bunch right now. They just put on their last PPV two weeks ago and are going all the way to England for UFC 85 Bedlam next Saturday at 3 pm EST. Two weeks after that they are in Vegas for the TUF 7 finale and two weeks after that they are back at it again with UFC 86. In any case let's talk about how this card is the most star crossed card ever put on by the UFC and possibly any MMA organization ever. The first main event was Liddell v. Shogun which would've been huge. Then Shogun got injured and was replaced by Rashad Evans. Not nearly the same fight but still two contenders. Then Liddell got hurt and he was replaced by James Irvin. Now this fight is not a main event. Then Irvin got hurt and the fight was scrapped altogether. Along with that saga was the fact that the Jonathan Goulet v. Paul Kelly match was also abandoned. Chris Leben couldn't fight Michael Bisping due to legal troubles and Ryo Chonan and Neil Wain also had to be replaced in their under card bouts. In my opinion this event should've been scrapped but I guess when you're going overseas things have to be put in motion so far in advance it didn't make sense for the UFC to scrap it and they probably also feel they owed it to the fans to at least put on the event even if it's not nearly the same caliber of fights they were expecting. Fortunately for the UFC Matt Hughes and Thiago Alves stepped in and at least gave the fans a fight worthy of the main event. There is no background or drama to any of the fights but at least the Hughes v. Alves fight does have something invested in the result. If Alves can beat Hughes he will most likely fight the winner of the UFC 87 bout between GSP and Jon Fitch for the welterweight title. Okay, let's break down the fights:
Antoni Hardonk v. Eddie Sanchez (replacing Neil Wain): Hardonk is 6-4 and 2-2 in the UFC. He has 5 wins by stoppage. He is well rounded but is mostly a stand up fighter. Sanchez is 10-1 and 3-1 in the UFC. He is basically a stand up fighter. My guess is these two heavyweights will go toe to toe and slug it out. My prediction here is Eddie Sanchez by TKO in round 2.
Paul Taylor v. Jess Liaudin: Taylor is 8-3-1 with 1 NC and 1-2 in the UFC. He has 7 wins by stoppage and is mostly a stand up fighter. Jess is 12-9 and 2-1 in the UFC. He has 11 wins by stoppage and is mostly a submission fighter. Taylor has already beaten Jess once and I don't see any reason why he can't do it again. My prediction here is TKO in round 1 in front of the hometown fans.
Roan Carneiro v. Kevin Burns (replacing Ryo Chonan): Carneiro is 12-6 and 2-1 in the UFC. He has 7 wins by stoppage and is a submission specialist. Unfortunately I've never seen Burns fight so this will be a hard prediction for me but I'm going to go out on a limb and predict Roan by submission in round 1. My guess is this fight will probably get submission of the night.
Jason Lambert v. Luis Cane: Lambert is 23-7, 4-2 in the UFC, and 2-0 in the WEC. He has 19 wins by stoppage and is mostly a stand up fighter. Cane is 7-1 but that 1 loss did come in his only fight in the UFC. All 7 wins came by stoppage and Cane is also a stand up fighter. These two guys will probably go toe to toe but I see Lambert getting the better of this one. My prediction is Lambert by TKO in round 2.
Matt Wiman v. Thiago Tavares: Wiman is 9-3 and 3-1 in the UFC. He has 6 wins by stoppage and is a well rounded fighter. Tavares is 13-1 and is also 3-1 in the UFC with 11 wins by stoppage. He is a submission expert. I expect this fight to go to the mat. If this fight goes like I think it will I expect Tavares to have the advantage and pull out a submission in round 2.
Martin Kampmann v. Jorge Rivera: Martin is 20-2 and 3-0 in the UFC. He has 15 wins by stoppage and is a fairly well rounded fighter. Rivera is 15-6 and 3-4 in the UFC. He has 12 wins by stoppage and is a stand up fighter. I expect Kampmann to try and take this fight to the ground where he should get the better of things. I expect a submission by Kampmann in round 1.
Nate Marquardt v. Thales Leites: Nate is 26-7-2 and 5-1 in the UFC. He has 18 wins by stoppage and is a very well rounded fighter though most of his wins have come by submission. Leites is 12-1 and is 3-1 in the UFC. He has 10 wins by stoppage and is a submission expert. If Marquardt was smart he'd try to keep this fight standing but I bet this will turn out to be a ground battle. I'm picking Marquardt to win simply due to his experience against much better fighters than Leites but I see this match as being a stalemate on the ground so I'm picking Marquardt by decision in this fight.
Fabricio Werdum v. Brandon Vera: Werdum is 10-3-1, 1-1 in the UFC, and 4-2 in PRIDE. He has 9 wins by stoppage and is a very well rounded fighter. Vera is 8-1, 4-1 in the UFC, and 2-0 in the WEC. He has 7 wins by stoppage and is a stand up fighter. This is a tough fight to call. I think if it goes to the ground Werdum has the advantage but I think standing up Vera could very well win. I see Vera being too much for Werdum but I don't see a stoppage here. I'll pick Vera by decision in this one.
Mike Swick v. Marcus Davis: Swick is 11-2, 6-1 in the UFC, and 2-1 in the WEC. He has 7 wins by stoppage and is mostly a stand up fighter. Davis is 14-3 and 6-0 in the UFC. He has 12 wins by stoppage and is a well rounded fighter. I expect these two will probably go toe to toe and with Swick moving down to 170 lbs he will be the stronger fighter and will probably get the better of the stand up. My prediction here is KO of the night in round 1 by Swick earning back his nickname of "quick".
Michael Bisping v. Jason Day (replacing Chris Leben): Bisping is 15-1 and 5-1 in the UFC. He has 14 wins by stoppage and is a stand up fighter. Day is 17-5 and 1-0 in the UFC. He has 16 wins by stoppage and is a well rounded fighter. I think this fight will stay standing where Bisping's power will get the better of Day. My prediction here is Bisping by KO in round 1 getting a big win in front of his countrymen.
Matt Hughes v. Thiago Alves: Hughes is a legend at welterweight with a record of 41-6 and 15-4 in the UFC holding the welterweight title twice and defending it 7 times. He has 31 wins by stoppage. He is a great wrestler and a ground and pound specialist. Alves is the fastest riser in the welterweight division. He is 13-3 and 7-2 in the UFC. He has 9 wins by stoppage and is a Muy Thai specialist. I'm not a fan of Hughes so I have no problem saying that he is over the hill and is no longer a contender in the welterweight division. I definitely expect Alves to win with his superior stand up and specifically his brutal kicks. Hughes is a tough guy so I'll give him an extra round but my prediction here is Alves by TKO in round 2. This fight should propel him to number 1 contender status.
My pick for fight of the night goes to Werdum and Vera. They are very evenly matched talent wise and it should be a good back and forth battle. Normally I wouldn't pick a fight I expect to go to decision to be fight of the night but I can make an exception for two talented fighters like these guys. Alright well that wraps it up for my UFC 85 preview. Stay tuned tomorrow for my WEC recap and don't forget Thursday, as always, is my TUF 7 recap. Enjoy the fights tonight!
Soccer kicks and head stomps...