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UFC 85: Bedlam review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on May 26, 2009, 10:00 AM

UFC 85: Bedlam

London, England

-Where to start with this one? To say it was the most injury-hit card of 2008 would be an understatement. Alright, here goes: Original main event was supposed to be Chuck Liddell vs. Mauricio ĎShoguní Rua, but Shogun ended up having knee surgery and so Rashad Evans stepped in to fight Liddell. Liddell then tore his hamstring, taking *him* out of the equation and with James Irvin being the replacement, they were in dire need of a main event. Cue Matt Hughes Ė perennial company man Ė stepping in on relatively short notice to take on hot up-and-comer Thiago Alves, who had knocked out Karo Parisyan in April. Card was then headlined by a triple main event of Alves-Hughes, Evans-Irvin and Michael Bisping vs. Chris Leben, which was added as a bonus to the UK fans after the loss of Liddell. Except *those* fights fell through too, as Leben had legal problems and was replaced by Jason Day, and Irvin broke his foot in training and so we lost Rashad from the card altogether. So finally it was just Hughes vs. Alves as the main event, with Bisping vs. Day as the main supporting act.

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Heavyweight Fight: Antoni Hardonk vs Eddie Sanchez

This was another fight affected by injury, as brawling Brit Neil Wain was Hardonkís original opponent, but broke his nose in training and so Eddie Sanchez stepped in. Nobody seemed to mind the loss of Wain like they did the loss of Liddell. Funny, that.

We begin with a sloppy, wild exchange that sees Hardonk knocked to the ground with, looked like a right hand to me. Sanchez ends up in his guard and moves him to the fence, but Hardonk keeps a high, closed guard and little happens. Referee calls them back up and Sanchez swings wildly into a clinch again, and then lands some uppercuts inside as Hardonk muscles him to the cage. Antoni comes back with a big knee as Sanchez tries to answer with heavy leather, and then Hardonk breaks and takes a big combo so clinches again. They break off and Hardonk avoids some wild hooks and lands a leg kick, but Sanchez gets a takedown to side mount. Hardonk works to half-guard, and then full guard. Again he does a good job of controlling Sanchez from the bottom, with the Manic Hispanic unable to do well, anything at all. Ref calls them up again and Sanchez continues to swing, landing a couple of uppercuts from inside the clinch. Sanchez looks to get him down again, and manages an ankle pick to half-guard. Hardonk quickly gets full guard though and ties Sanchez up for the remainder of the round.

2nd round, and Sanchez swings his way into the clinch, but eats some big knees to the body. Suddenly though a BIG LEFT HOOK sends Hardonk crashing down and Sanchez pounds away looking to finish! Hardonk manages to get guard though and looks recovered quickly. Sanchez stands and drops a right hand over the top back into half-guard, but Hardonk again gets full guard. Hammer fists from Eddie and Hardonk is bloody now. Ref stands them up and Sanchez continues to swing, but now he eats a couple of heavy leg kicks, Hardonkís speciality. Eddie tries to clinch, but looks a bit gassed now and takes another kick. Big leg kick buckles Sanchez and he shoots, but Hardonk sprawls out nicely to avoid. Sanchez looks in deep trouble now, wobbling all over the place with his hands down as Hardonk begins to pick his shots. BIG combination of punches, left, right, left, left right rocks Sanchez badly but somehow he remains standing! The dude is like a zombie now though. Eddie tries to swing back, but Hardonk continues to land over and over and over, and finally a HUGE LEFT HOOK puts Sanchez DOWN AND OUT!~!

Quite the ending to a crazy round. Whole fight was sloppy as hell but it was entertaining enough as Sanchez just kept swinging haymakers and almost had Hardonk beaten a couple of times, but somehow the Dutchman hung in there and took over once Sanchez got tired later on. Hell of a finish too.

Welterweight Fight: Paul Taylor vs Jess Liaudin

These two UK-based fighters had looked solid prospects in their early Octagon fights, but both were coming off losses at UFC 80 in January and so both needed a win pretty desperately here to keep their UFC hopes alive. This was actually a rematch of a 2003 fight that saw Taylor leave with his hand raised. Common sense said the striking advantage went to Taylor, ground advantage to Liaudin.

Circle to begin and Liaudin throws out some punches before getting a nice takedown to side mount. Jess looks to work a kimura, but Taylor gets a reversal and winds up on top. Full guard for Liaudin and he uses the fence to get to his feet in a clinch. Arena looks DEAD by the way. Liaudin switches position and gets another takedown to guard. Jess stands and this allows Taylor to scramble back to his feet, but right away Liaudin gets on him against the cage. Big knee from Jess in the clinch, answered by an elbow from Taylor. Ref calls the break and Liaudin throws a flying knee as they trade off momentarily, but then Jess looks for the takedown again. Taylor blocks this time and they end up clinched again. Nice inside elbow from Jess and he drops for a leg, but Taylor blocks again. Nice elbow from Liaudin in the clinch, but Taylor rocks him with a left hand, and then follows up with a barrage as Jess retreats! The Frenchman goes down, and Taylor SWARMS on him, but Liaudin manages to survive and even tries to lock up an armbar just before the round ends. Really good finish to the round and Taylor likely stole it with that last flurry.

Round 2 and they exchange some strikes before Liaudin looks for the takedown again. Taylor stuffs it into a clinch by the fence, where they exchange and Jess knocks Taylorís mouthpiece out with an elbow. They separate and stop the fight to replace the mouthpiece, and then continue with Taylor landing a left high kick. Body kick to answer from Liaudin and then he lands a knee to the body too, but Taylor then gets a takedown and stands over him before going to the guard. Liaudin looks for a kimura from the guard, but Taylor yanks it free. Taylor stands over him and kicks the legs, and then backs off to allow Jess up. Combo from Liaudin and he looks for the takedown again, getting a nice single leg to guard. Taylor appears to go for the rubber guard, but then gives it up and settles for a regular full guard. Taylorís guard looks much improved defensively when you look back to the Paul Kelly fight actually. Jess pins him into the cage, and then gets Taylor down again as he uses the fence to stand. Few elbows from the bottom by Taylor, as Jess lands a couple punches of his own to close out the round.

Third and final round and this is anyoneís fight I think, as I wouldnít have given Taylor an advantage in the second. Exchange to begin and Taylor avoids a takedown. Good leg kick from Taylor and he avoids another takedown and stuns Liaudin with a combination. Liaudin backs off and recovers quickly, and then throws a spinning back kick, before grabbing a clinch for some knees. Taylor answers with an uppercut but Liaudin tackles him to the ground, right by the fence. Taylor looks to post up the cage to stand, but Liaudin gets him back down. Sweep attempt by Taylor and they scramble, but Taylor remains on the bottom. He tries to work back up again and stands, but Jess keeps looking to bring him down. Taylor manages to avoid this time and backs up. Short exchange follows and then Jess charges in with a driving takedown to guard. Taylor works back to his feet quickly though, and they end up clinched again. Exchange in the clinch with Liaudin landing a good elbow, as Taylor works to avoid another takedown. Single leg gets Taylor down, and Liaudin avoids a scramble and remains on top. Pretty much right away though Taylor works back to his feet. Jess goes to get him down again, but this time ends up on his back, and Taylor gets top position in half-guard. Taylor throws some wild strikes from the top, and the fight ends there.

Close fight but I think Iíd lean towards Liaudin, 29-28. Judges have it as a split decision, 29-28 for Liaudin, 29-28 for Taylor, and 29-28 for Taylor giving him the win. Huh. Surprising decision but then I guess Liaudin didnít do *that* much with his takedowns while Taylor did better standing and was able to get up from underneath Jess on numerous occasions. Decent if unspectacular fight.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Luiz ĎBanhaí Cane vs Jason Lambert

Lambert had been KOd in his previous trip to the UK by Wilson Gouveia, while Cane had got off to an odd start in his UFC tenure, knocking James Irvin out with an illegal knee that earned him a disqualification. Both look pretty soft for 205lbs actually, though Cane has a large reach advantage.

Both men look to strike early, but the reach advantage for Cane is evident right away as Lambertís punches struggle to reach the Brazilian. Lambert closes the distance and clinches, but Cane does a good job of avoiding the takedown and they exchange in close quarters. Cane breaks off, and Lambert comes forward wildly, but walks right into a left hand that drops him face-first! Lambert scrambles desperately for a leg, but Cane avoids and unloads with the left again as they trade, sending Lambert crashing down! Lambert manages to survive and goes for a takedown again, but Cane avoids and lands some more shots as Lambert tries desperately to fire back. Lambert swings wildly but a pair of left hands clock him hard, putting him down for the TKO.

Big win for Cane as his striking looked pinpoint, and he used his reach advantage to devastating effect, avoiding Lambertís wild punches to just dismantle him. Lambert admittedly played into Caneís hands by striking the way he did, but this was still a very impressive fight for the Brazilian.

Welterweight Fight: Kevin Burns vs Roan Carneiro

Yep, another match affected by injury, as Ryo Chonan was sidelined for reasons I forget now and so Kevin Burns Ė an unknown from the Midwest, with a hilarious nickname (ĎThe Fireí, you know, as in, ĎThe Fire Burnsí?) stepped in on very late notice. Pretty much nobody was giving Burns a chance here as Carneiro had looked really solid in all of his previous fights, even giving Jon Fitch a good run for his money. Weird moment in the pre-fight video package as they subtitle Carneiro, despite his English being really good for a Brazilian and easily understandable.

Carneiro closes the distance early and looks to get him down, but Burns surprisingly reverses and ends up on top in full mount! Nice hammer fists by Burns but Carneiro reverses out and gets back up, looking for a takedown. Burns stuffs it and ends up against the cage, but Carneiro elevates him with a single and gets him down in guard. Burns keeps a tight guard and pushes him off, but Carneiro drops a beautiful right hand over the top and ends up in the guard again. Nice active guard from Burns though, surprisingly able to stifle the BJJ black belt. It looks like Burns is going for a triangle variant, but Carneiro avoids it and tries to pass. He gets to side mount for a second, but Burns slides his leg under and returns to full guard. Couple of good shots from Carneiro from top position. Burns tries the triangle again but Carneiro avoids easily this time and uses it to pass to half-guard, and then to mount. Burns stays calm though and tries to use the cage to reverse, but Carneiro holds him in place. Punches land for the Brazilian and he looks to be setting up an arm triangle, but Burns does a good job of avoiding. Burns manages to spin out as Carneiro inches up, and gets back to guard as Rogan jokes that Burns probably deserves a promotion to a BJJ purple belt for that sort of escape. Round ends with Carneiro in Burnsí guard. Got to go Carneiro, 10-9 despite Burnsí excellent defenses.

Into the 2nd and Carneiro lands a sharp leg kick. Carneiro shoots, but Burns avoids with a good sprawl. They exchange some strikes, and end up in a scramble off a Carneiro shot, where Burns ends up on top landing some hammer fists. Carneiro grabs onto a single leg but Burns manages to break off. Burns presses with strikes, landing a big right, but Carneiro manages to tackle him to guard. He gets to half-guard but again Burns does a good job to recover guard. Carneiro stands to attempt a pass, but Burns again keeps full guard. The Brazilian works to half-guard and tries to pass again, but once more Burns works back to full guard. Elbows from the bottom from Burns land to the head. Crowd begin to get restless as Carneiro looks to posture up for some shots, standing to deliver them, but Burns catches him right on the jaw with a nice upkick. Carneiro drops back into the guard...but lands in a triangle choke, and Burns pulls on the head for the tapout! WOW.

Huge, HUGE upset there. I mean weíve seen short-notice replacements win before, but for Burns to flash KO Carneiro wouldíve been one thing Ė to tap out a decorated BJJ player in this way is another. I mean as Rogan pointed out, Burns is a blue belt! Insane stuff Ė perhaps the upset of the year in fact. Definitely in terms of shocking finishes at least.

Lightweight Fight: Thiago Tavares vs Matt Wiman

Tavares had been on the main card in feature bouts previously, but found himself relegated to the prelims following a horrible fight with Omigawa in January. Wiman meanwhile was on a hot streak of three wins following a stint on TUF V, but personally I was picking the Brazilian to end that streak here.

Round One begins and Wiman presses with a flurry of punches and gets a takedown, but Tavares gets a guillotine. Wiman pops out but Thiago goes for an oma plata, but Wiman manages to slip free. Upkick from Tavares cracks Wiman and then he transitions from a single leg to take the back, but Wiman rolls for a heel hook! Tavares slips free and gets on top, landing a couple of shots before falling for a heel hook of his own. Wiman avoids but ends up still on his back in the guard. Elbows from the bottom for Wiman as Tavares postures up on top and drops some punches and hammer fists. Wiman gets an oma plata from the guard, but Thiago wriggles free and then ends up back in the guard. Tavares keeps working from the top but Wiman does a good job of defending, and eventually pushes off the hips and scrambles to his feet. Tavares gets right back on him looking for the takedown again, but Wiman defends it well until Wiman drops and rolls to guard. Round ends with them exchanging in Wimanís guard. Good opening round.

2nd round and Wiman comes out SWINGING, but gets CRACKED by a huge right hand from Tavares! Somehow Wiman eats it up though and swings right back, and they exchange into a clinch. Uppercut from Tavares breaks and they exchange again with Wiman landing a good body kick. High kick from Wiman but Tavares avoids a takedown attempt. Good right from Wiman and they exchange knees to the body, and then Tavares slips to his back on a high kick attempt. Tavares goes for a leglock from the bottom, but Wiman avoids and grabs a guillotine from a seated position, and then looks to mount before going for a very high reverse triangle. Thiago slips free to Wimanís guard, but they end up coming back to their feet where Wiman cracks him with a right hand! Flurry stuns Tavares badly and a BIG RIGHT HAND drops him for the knockout!

Hell of a fight there. Excellent grappling exchanges throughout the first round and then a serious slugfest in the second, with Wiman somehow surviving a monstrous shot early to come back and kill Tavares dead with the flurry late on. Knockout was brutal too as Thiago totally folded up at the knees. Tremendous stuff.

Middleweight Fight: Martin Kampmann vs Jorge Rivera

This was Kampmannís big return following well over a year on the shelf with a really bad knee injury, and he was faced with veteran Rivera, coming off one of the biggest wins of his career over TUF winner Kendall Grove. Kampmann was the big favourite coming in though presuming his knee would hold up.

They press forward to begin with Rivera landing a leg kick immediately. Rivera strikes his way into a clinch, but Kampmann gets a nice leg trip to guard. Kampmann tries to work from the top, but Rivera shows a solid guard, until Kampmann scrambles free and takes the back with an over/under. The Dane gets one hook in and looks to be working for the choke, and then he rolls Jorge and gets the second hook in. Kampmann transitions to the arm triangle choke, but gets caught in half-guard and Rivera does a good job to escape. He scrambles and ends up caught in a guillotine though, and Kampmann quickly locks it up with full guard, rolling to the mount and Rivera is forced to tap.

Pretty much a squash actually as Kampmann didnít appear to have lost any steam following the knee surgery. Nice guillotine for the finish too, impressive for a guy better known for his kickboxing background.

Heavyweight Fight: Fabricio Werdum vs Brandon Vera

Odd choice for the PPV opener as theyíd hyped this as the co-feature on the Countdown show, but whatever. Veraís last fight had seen him smothered to a decision loss by Tim Sylvia, while Werdum had beaten Gabriel Gonzaga to throw his name back into the hat of contenders at HW. This was basically do or die for Vera in terms of his career at HW, as a win would vault him into title contention while a loss would probably mean a drop to 205lbs. Being a fan of Veraís I was taking him via leg kicks, despite him giving up quite a lot of size to the Brazilian.

Round One and they clinch pretty much right away. Vera breaks though and presses forward before clinching again, forcing Werdum to the fence. They muscle for position before Werdum breaks with a left hook. They exchange back into the clinch and Werdum looks to be trying to muscle Vera down, to no avail. Eventually he manages to get Vera down though, tripping him to half-guard. Vera does well to scramble back to guard and looks to tie Werdum up. Nice push off from Vera and he pops to his feet, trying a knee, but Werdum catches it and tries a takedown. Good defense by Vera though and he blocks and lands some punches as Werdum scrambles. Vera calls him back up and lands a nice left hook as Werdum comes forward, and then follows with a combo as Werdum backs up. Elbow from the plum clinch lands for Vera but they end up clinched along the fence again. Ref calls the separation and Vera blocks a high kick into another clinch. Werdum muscles him back and gets a beautiful trip to guard, before he stands and passes to half-guard. Full mount follows and Werdum opens up with punches as Vera covers up. 20 seconds to go and Werdum keeps flurrying, and the ref calls it there.

Post-fight Vera is fuming, claiming an early stoppage. Tough one to call though as Werdum was landing shots at will and Vera wasnít really doing much to escape the position, but he *was* defending and didnít look on the verge of being KOd or anything like that. I guess you have to err on the side of caution though and so it was a fair stoppage in my book. Good showing from Werdum, even with the controversial ending, and this ended up being the fight that inspired Vera to drop to a much more natural 205lbs, as he was largely outmuscled by the bigger man.

Middleweight Fight: Nate Marquardt vs Thales Leites

Well, this took them long enough. Marquardt and Leites were originally set to fight way back in 2006, at the TUF IV Finale, but Leites had Visa problems and was forced off the card. Next the fight was planned for UFC 81, but Leites broke his hand this time and was forced out again. Coming into that fight I was thinking Thales could pull the upset victory, but Marquardt had shown scary aggression against replacement Jeremy Horn, and so I had him pegged as the firm favourite in this one.

They get underway and circle, with Leites lunging forward a couple of times but not landing anything. Nice combo from Marquardt but Leites doesnít look hurt. They exchange some shots into a brief clinch but break almost immediately. Overhand right from Leites and Marquardt looks to fire back, but walks into a BIG COUNTER RIGHT that drops him! Leites quickly follows with a couple of punches and takes full mount, but Marquardt manages to wriggle to half-guard. Leites gets back to mount though and then takes the back momentarily as Marquardt rolls. He rolls back to the mount, but Marquardt again manages to slip to half-guard. Leites keeps looking to pass, and then uses head and arm control to pop to side mount. Marquardt hits a reversal though and escapes to his feet. He almost walks right into another right hand, but narrowly avoids it. Leites stalks forward, but Marquardt lands with a good bodyshot. Shot from Nate and he forces Leites to the fence, but Thales avoids the underhooks and gets the clinch. They break off, and Marquardt comes forward with an inside leg kick. Spinning back kick from Leites glances off Nateís chest. Leites misses a wild overhand right and PAYS FOR IT, as Marquardt lands with two big right hands and a HUGE UPPERCUT that sends Leites stumbling all over the place! Thales manages to recover though and avoids the following barrage from Nate, and the round ends shortly after. Pretty even round, and a really good one too, but Iíd say you have to give it to Thales 10-9 for the knockdown and the mount sequence.

Second round then, and Marquardt immediately comes in with a combo to the body and head. Combo from Leites to answer and he grabs a bodylock, and they end up clinched along the fence. Nate reverses position and looks for a takedown, but Leites blocks by grabbing the fence and gets a warning. They break off and Nate again clocks him with a nice combo. Takedown from Marquardt and he NAILS him with a knee as Leites tries to scramble up, but referee Herb Dean calls time as Leites had one knee down on the mat, making it illegal. Seriously hard shot though and Leites looks stunned. Dean calls the doctor in to check him over but they agree heís fine and let him continue fighting. They do dock Marquardt one point though. Restart and Nate immediately clocks him with a right hand and gets a bodylock takedown, landing in the guard where he gets UBER-AGGRESSIVE with the ground-and-pound, landing really brutal elbows and punches. Leitesí nose looks busted up and the announcers mention they can hear him gurgling, probably as his own blood runs down his throat. Urgh. Big hammer fists from Nate as he tries to finish, but Leites is tough and survives. Ref stands them up as things slow down, and Marquardt comes forward aggressively again, but botches a takedown and ends up mounted! Leites lands some punches as Nate scrambles to half-guard to end the round. Awesome stuff. Nateís round but on points itís 9-9 with the lost point for the illegal knee.

Third and final round and Iíve got Leites up 19-18 at this stage. Bodyshot by Nate again to open. Good knee from Leites and he follows with a flying knee, but Marquardt grabs him and takes him down. Leites goes for a triangle, and then transitions to an oma plata, but Nate steps out and lands an elbow to the head as Leites looks for a single leg. Ref steps in calling it a blow to the back of the head and takes ANOTHER point, as replays show it was to the *side* of the head rather than the back. Bad call from Herb Dean and now Marquardt basically needs to finish Leites to win this fight (assuming all the judges gave Thales the first). They restart and exchange pretty freely now with both men landing some decent blows. Nice left jab from Nate and he follows with a combo that snaps the Brazilianís head back. Takedown from Marquardt follows and he pins Leites into the fence in a butterfly guard. Nate avoids a kimura easily as he lands some right hands and tries to pass. Good elbow from Marquardt as Rogan tries to somehow explain the back of the head rule, which is pretty impossible in my book. Leites rolls for the kimura again but Nate pops free and uses it to pass to half-guard. Leites gets double underhooks from the bottom and looks for a sweep, and then tries for a single leg, but Nate sprawls back and then LIFTS HIM UP AND LANDS A PILEDRIVER!~! Holy SHIT. Somehow Leites isnít hurt by it though and he ends up on his feet as the buzzer sounds.

Iíve got that round for Nate again, but like the 2nd itís a 9-9 round, so for me itís 28-27 for Leites. Judges have it 28-27 Leites, 28-27 Marquardt, and 28-27 for Leites to take the split decision.

Awesome fight Ė on first view it was my UFC Fight of the Year, I donít think itís held up quite as well as Iíd expected but itís still a FOTYC in my book. Marquardt was really unlucky with the decision as he shouldnít have lost the point in the third round and that wouldíve made it a draw, but hey, human error and all. I expected an instant rematch but I guess thatíll come sometime down the line as they probably wanted to avoid Marquardt possibly knocking off a future contender. Still, extremely good fight Ė easily both menís best in the UFC Ė filled with stuff you donít normally see like the piledriver. How this didnít get the Fight of the Night award (it went to Tavares-Wiman) I donít know.

Welterweight Fight: Mike Swick vs Marcus Davis

Interesting match in the Welterweight division as Davis was on a massive winning streak Ė six wins in the UFC alone Ė but hadnít really faced anyone on the elite level, while Swick clearly had the potential to reach that level but had fought terribly in his debut at 170lbs against Josh Burkman. I was picking Swick to make a better weight cut this time and become the man to derail the Irish Hand Grenade. Interesting to note too, Davis is HUGE here, looks like heís really gone overboard with the powerlifting in his training.

Round One and Davis looks to close the distance with punches, while Swick is clearly looking to use his reach advantage and stays elusive, throwing some kicks. Swick misses a flying knee and Davis grabs a clinch, forcing Swick into the fence, and he gets a trip takedown but Swick immediately scrambles back up. Guillotine attempt by Marcus but Swick takes him down and gets to half-guard, popping his head free. Davis manages to get back to full guard, but Swick stays firmly on top and pins Davis into the cage. Into half-guard for Swick again and he works free into side mount. Nice. Davis immediately scrambles though and gets back to full guard. Swickís top control looks real good here but heís doing very little damage thus far. Davis tries to use the fence to stand, but Swick remains on top and lands a couple of shots. Some nice elbows land too and Davisí face looks marked up now. Davis tries a sweep but Swickís base is too solid and heís having none of it. Round ends shortly after. Davis is cut on the bridge of the nose now. Dull round but itís 10-9 for Swick.

Second round and Davis counters a kick with a stiff left hook, but it only makes Swick grin. Big head kick from Swick follows and then he lands a knee and a right hand as Davis tumbles to his back again. Davis gets full guard and the crowd get restless as Davis ties him up, but Swick works from the top and passes to side mount. Swick goes for full mount but fails on the attempt and Davis gets back to half-guard, and then looks for a kimura, but Swick blocks it and elbows the thighs. Ref threatens to stand them and then Swick slips out of the kimura and they come back to their feet. Davis closes the distance and lands a combo inside, and then goes for a takedown, but Swick grabs the cage to avoid and gets a warning for it. Knee by Swick but Davis takes him down. Triangle attempt from Swick but Davis avoids and they come back to their feet. Davis throws a kick but Swick immediately catches it and gets a takedown to side mount, landing some knees to the body to end the round. Swick 10-9. Davis looks badly marked up here.

Third round and Swick catches him with a beautiful knee as Davis steps in. Davis closes the distance and they clinch for a second before breaking off. They exchange briefly and clinch again, but Davis backs off now. Takedown attempt by Davis but Swick blocks into a clinch and breaks off. Suddenly Iím having flashbacks to Burkman-Swick and itís not good. Clinch again and Swick looks for the takedown, but Davis avoids it. Knees in the clinch from Swick, but Davis takes him down momentarily. Swick pops right back up though. Blood pouring from cuts around Davisís eyes now. Ref calls the break and takes a point from Swick for grabbing the cage, and then they restart. Takedown from Swick to guard though and he grinds away from the top, bloodying up Davis badly. Fight ends with Swick flailing away in the guard.

Iíve got Swick taking this 29-27 with the point deduction. Judges all agree, giving Swick the victory. Not the best fight though considering how exciting both guys normally are. Second bad fight in a row for Swick in terms of entertainment too Ė I mean it had its moments and wasnít as dull as I remembered, but this was the guy who used to kill dudes dead in seconds. Post-fight Swick tells an odd story about getting his head stuck in a subway, no idea what heís on about. Good win on paper for Swick but not the best fight.

Middleweight Fight: Michael Bisping vs Jason Day

As I mentioned at the beginning of the review this wouldíve seen Bisping face Chris Leben, but Lebenís legal problems forced him out and so Day stepped in. Day was actually coming off a very impressive win over Alan Belcher at UFC 83, and on paper he was a stiff test for the Brit, who really despite looking stellar in his debut at 185lbs hadnít been tested properly there yet, no offense to Charles McCarthy. Massive pop for Bisping upon entrance, naturally.

Both men press with strikes to begin, although neither lands cleanly. Into a clinch, and Bisping muscles him into the cage and lands some knees inside. Takedown to guard from Bisping and he postures up right away and begins to land some heavy blows. Bisping stands and passes the legs to the side, landing some big punches to the head, and Day tries to get up but Bispingís having none of that and continues the assault. Bisping passes to side mount and controls him well, before letting him up. Combo from Bisping but Day comes forward, right into a big takedown from Bisping. Bisping lands in side mount and tries to spin to full mount, but winds up in half-guard. Full mount follows though and then he takes the back, dragging Day down and landing more punches. Day looks in deep trouble now as Bisping continues to land, just pounding away from the top position and sure enough the referee steps in and stops it.

Very, very impressive performance from Bisping, especially when you consider how good Day had looked against Belcher. Bisping just didnít let him have a chance to get out of the gate though, overwhelming him from the start, and his clinch game, takedowns and ground and pound looked hugely improved. Probably Bispingís best showing in the Octagon to date in fact. Looks like that move to 185lbs did him well indeed.

Welterweight Fight: Thiago Alves vs Matt Hughes

As I mentioned, both men took this fight on relatively late notice for a main event, and incredibly this one nearly fell through too, as Alves injured his ankle quite badly in training and was forced to take cortisone shots and everything to help him through. The result was that he missed weight pretty badly Ė coming in at 174lbs as opposed to 170lbs and forcing the fight to become a Catchweight bout Ė and so the size difference here is TREMENDOUS. Like, Iíve never seen Hughes outsized in such a way before. Not even close. Alves is a monster and is barely recognizable from the guy that we saw debut back in 2005. With Hughes clearly on his way down and Alves on a seriously hot streak, I was picking the Pitbull to stop Hughes with strikes in the second round, putting him in line for a title shot.

Round One begins and Alves presses forward, before Hughes shoots. Beautiful stuff from Alves to avoid, and they circle off. Hughes tries the takedown again, but Alves blocks with a knee to the gut and they muscle towards the cage with Hughes still looking to bring him down. Hughes surprisingly pulls guard, donít think Iíve seen him do that before, but itís to no avail as Alves cracks him with some big punches from the top and then stands up. Big knee to the body from Alves but Hughes grabs the leg and gets him down into half-guard. Hughes controls him from the top, but does little damage as Thiago does a good job of tying the former champ up. Little happens from the position as the ref warns Hughes that heíll stand them up unless he works. Hughes still canít pass the guard though and Alves uses the attempt to get to his feet. Hughes comes back in on a single, but Alves does a nice job of avoiding and he escapes out, and blocks another takedown, ending up on top. Hughes tries a high guard, but eats some heavy shots from Thiago to end the round. Hughes spent the majority on top but Iíd still score that for Alves based on far more damage.

Into the 2nd and Alves lands a BIG right knee as Hughes shoots, opening a cut. Hughes drops to his back and takes some shots from half-guard before Thiago decides to stand back up. Hughes lunges for another takedown but Alves backs off as he comes forward, and then Thiago KILLS HUGHES DEAD WITH A LEAPING SWITCH KNEE!~!~!

Unbelievable finish. Like something from a Van Damme movie. Easy candidate for knockout of the year and probably wouldíve taken it in fact had it not been for Rashadís KO of Liddell in September.

Post-fight Alves apologises for missing weight, mentioning the ankle injury, and then asks for a title shot, though he refuses to go down on his knees, heh. Hughes says he got caught by a very good fighter, and then says heís not ready for retirement just yet as he wants to fight Matt Serra.

So yeah, pretty awesome stuff from Alves. I mean it was impressive when GSP manhandled Hughes in the way he did, but Alves was basically able to do the same here, outside of the one period in the first round where he got caught under Hughes (although Matt did no damage there anyway). A lot of people kept on about the weight issue, but really I mean, sure four pounds might make a difference, but Alves still destroyed Matt fucking Hughes, the most legendary champion in UFC history bar none. How can you knock the guy for that? Tremendous finish for the main event too.

-And we end with the highlight reel.

Final Thoughts....

It didnít get a good rep at the time for whatever reason but I actually thought UFC 85 was a pretty solid show. Sure, Davis-Swick was pretty slow, and Vera-Werdum had a crappy finish, but Marquardt-Leites is THE AWESOME and the two main events are pretty dope, particularly the finish of Alves-Hughes. Prelims are nothing special but Wiman-Tavares is a lot of fun and Lambert-Cane and Kampmann-Rivera are fun enough too. Nothing truly historic or earth-shattering and the lack of a bonafide classic (though Marquardt-Leites comes close) keeps it from getting a really high rating, but UFC 85 is a strong enough show and one of the better ones of 2008.

Best Fight: Leites-Marquardt
Worst Fight: Sanchez-Hardonk

Overall Rating: ***3/4

Coming Soon....

UFC: 86-96, Fight Nights 14-17, and TUF VII and VIII Finales.
Pride: Shockwave 2005, Shockwave 2006, and the Openweight Grand Prix.
WEC: 32-40.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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