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I’m officially ready for UFC 85

icfc.jpg To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to UFC 85 until I watched part of the countdown show for last night. From what I was able to view, the show did great job of getting me excited for the Matt Hughes vs. Thiago Alves fight.

What really helped me get into it was the attention that Alves received during the show. All I really knew about Alves is that his Muay Thai has really come on and that his ground game was very good as well. I had no idea who he was as a person. During last night’s show, he was portrayed as the opposite of Hughes. Alves was depicted as a cocky (but not arrogant) kid who likes the ladies and the club scene.

The show even offered some backstory in that Hughes once took a shot at Alves during a seminar in Florida that Hughes was teaching. Hughes apparently made some crack at Alves regarding his UFC debut, which he lost. Hughes didn’t recall the comment but didn’t rule out the possibility that he said it. However, Alves said he remembers it well and it’s bothered him ever since.

Contrived drama? Perhaps. But Matt Hughes is the same guy who once tried to joke with Joe Riggs about having beaten her husband up a few weeks earlier so it’s real easy to believe that he took a pot shot at Alves.

Hughes, Georges St. Pierre, Jon Fitch, Matt Serra, Karo Parisyan, Diego Sanchez, and Josh Koscheck are the core members of the UFC’s welterweight division but Alves has been coming on strong as of late and a win over Hughes would catapult him into the upper-echelon at 170 pounds.

It’s an intriguing fight because I believe that Alves is a bad matchup for Hughes. Hughes needs to get this fight to the ground because if he doesn’t, his standup skills will be no match for Alves’. I have yet to finalize my prediction for the fight, but I am giving serious consideration to calling an upset.

Overall, UFC 85 doesn’t have any huge matchups with title implications, but it’s going to answer a lot of questions about the food chain in several weight classes. The winner of Brandon Vera vs. Fabricio Werdum could earn a title shot with the bout. For Vera, a win likely puts him back in the top ten rankings for most people. If Werdum wins, he could move up a couple of notches.

In the case of Marcus Davis, he’s been on the cusp of my top ten welterweights for several months. The only thing preventing him from breaking in was a win over a top ten opponent. Mike Swick isn’t top ten, but if Davis wins then if may have to invoke the Ben Rothwell rule and put him in the top ten simply because he’s gone through everyone put him front of him. Swick needs the win bad but more importantly, he needs to look good in doing so. He beat Josh Burkman in January, but to many people, it feels like a loss because it was such a disappointing fight.

Looking at Thales Leites vs. Nathan Marquardt, a win by Leites could earn him a shot at Anderson Silva. As for Marquardt, who knows what a win does for him? He joins Dan Henderson and Rich Franklin in middleweight puragtory as he’s had his shot vs. Silva and got beat.

The Michael Bisping vs. Jason Day matchup doesn’t excite me, no matter how much bass the UFC voiceover guy uses when he mentions the matchup in the pay-per-view ads, but Day can become a household name with the upset while Bisping could move a step closer to being top 10 at 185 lbs. with an impressive showing.

Suddenly, I am looking forward to this card. I’m a huge fan of afternoon MMA and while there aren’t any epic fights scheduled for UFC 85, the matchups are pretty solid and we could be treated to a show of great fights from top-to-bottom.

  • bjjdenver says:

    I think Hughes/Alves is, quietly, a great fight.

    Vera/Werdum is about as good a HW match as possible in the UFC, besides title fights.

    Davis/Swick is a test for sure, and I am gaining more and more respect and excitement for Davis. His striking is a lot of fun to watch.

    Marquardt/Leites is another quietly good fight. Nate looked awesome and exciting his last time out, and a win should cement him in the UFC for a bit. I am anxious to see if he puts on the same kind of show this time out. I think he was overwhelmed against Anderson, and would like to see him get a 2nd shot. I would also like to see Almeida beat Cote and we could get a rematch of the Almeida victory over Marquardt in Pancrase, with the winner, perhaps, getting a shot.

    Bisping/Day is a big fight for both guys future in the UFC and I want to see which Bisping shows up.

    IMO, this card has been getting a lot of flack, when in reality it is fairly compelling.

  • Hardcharger says:

    I’d me more inclined to say that Hughes is a bad matchup for Alves.

    Sure, if Hughes doesn’t get the TD, he’ll get KOed. How many times in Hughes’ career has that been the case? That’s no revelation.

    Alves was taken down repeatedly, and easily, by Jon Fitch. Fitch is a very good fighter, but doesn’t even have the wrestling credentials of Hughes, nor the MMA resume. Once getting the TD, Fitch beat the holy hell out of Alves on the ground with punches and elbows, dominated positionally with BJJ. The one time Thiago got a reversal after Fitch was going for the rear naked choke, Fitch upkicked Alves, stunning him, and then finished off Thiago with punches.

    Just because Hughes got smoked 2x by GSP doesn’t mean he’s washed up. He could be, but that’s not been proven, and GSP makes almost everyone look really, really bad.

  • woooburn says:

    aaaafffftttteeeerrrnoon delight.

    i’m not the best at making predictions, but i foresee hughes getting defeated. he really underwhelmed me against gsp (though most people look bad in that matchup), while alves has shown nothing but promise. i think thiago will be too fast and too well rounded for him.

    vera/werdum is exciting in the sense that it will probably be one of the fastest paced hw fights in a while, seeing as they’re both on the lower end of the division weight-wise. barring another broken hand slow dance i suppose. wonder what vera’s fate will be if he loses his second straight. i hope they “encourage” him to fight at 205.

    after swick’s last fight, i dont have much interest in watching him anymore. hopefully davis wins and they match him up with alves, or another rising star that’ll really test him. or even karo if he pulls off a quick finish without taking too much punishment.

    and i anticipate a quick finish for bisping. but who they’ll put him up against next is anyone’s guess. maybe leben once his legal issues are resolved? that fight was pretty intriguing when announced.

    i’m looking too far ahead. gotta enjoy the fights at hand.

  • mo says:

    those countdown shows can really get you. they really suckered me in when they did the countdown for the Babalu vs. Chuck countdown. they gave such a convincing argument for Babalu that i bet money on him, and well we know how the rest of that went. the show definately helps sell the pay per views. and myself, i am looking forward to seeing how Martin Kampmann and Thiago Tavares look. both of these guys, i think, have good potential, and i hope they come out with really good showings.

  • woooburn says:

    damn, i completely forgot the alves/fitch fight. yet another reason i shouldnt try to predict anything

  • JTM says:

    The cursed card came good. Much as I love watching the ol’ Irish Hand Grenade, and he’s unbeaten in 6 UFC fights, I wish the UFC would bring a few new faces over, that’s all the recent UK shows bar one he’s fought in.

    Asides from my usual hope for a wingding on the undercard that gets shown on the PPV, Werdum-Vera looks like it could be interesting if Vera can handle the jet lag and decides to make it competetive.

  • Aaron says:

    Itz gonna be a good card…

  • paddiosf says:

    I’m still not sure if I’m getting this fight..The Countdown show was really good.. I’m more interested in seeing the Marquardt/Thales fight..This card has the potential to be really good or really bad..I’m hoping if I get this fight, they’ll show 9 fights like UFC84, that makes having a few bad fights make you feel like you got your money’s worth..

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    I’ll probably watch it, being a MMA fool and all. But this card doesn’t compare favorably to the Faber/Pulver WEC card last weekend, and that was free.

  • JoHn says:

    the thing is fitch has better stand up than hughes, which he used in setting up the take down… hopefully hughes can do the same, but i do think hughes will be the victor

  • Zack says:

    I was going through and picking my fantasy picks for Saturday and realized the same thing bjjdenver – these matchups are all very close and feature elite athletes.

    The only reason the headliner isn’t more exciting is we’ve just seen Hughes look like a fighter that is on the verge of no longer being relevant, a la Kerr, Coleman, Randleman, in the early part of the decade, and now Tito and perhaps Hughes. Gone are the days when he could bully opponents or out-cardio them. His standup is seriously lacking and the UFC has reached a level where everyone seems to be training cardio at an elite level (Lutter excluded, obviously). I expect Alves to pound him out on the ground or beat him up over a couple rounds and choke him out.

    Vera vs Werdum could be the fight of the night. You’d think Vera would have a significant advantage standing, but Werdum’s boxing looked sharp against Gonz.

  • ultmma says:

    good card from top to bottom but 45.00 of my hard earned dollar worthy??

    far from it

    about the contrived rivalry /hate….Sam does the UFC know any other way to hype up their PPV

    Penn vs. Sherk Ill “we hate each other ” Will

    Gsp vs. Serra

    Lesnar vs. Mir Gsp vs. Hughes etc. etc.

    and Jackson and Forrest suddenly have a bitter rivalry after being on a reality show together lol Please?

    Hmm how can GSP and Fitch hate one another to drive up PPV sales?

  • JoHn says:

    jackson and forrest had, what like a minute of rivalry, and then all of the sudden they were squirting eachother with water guns and shooting nets,,, harmless flirting if you ask me

  • Chuck says:

    The jury is definitely out on the Hughes/Alves matchup. Arguably Hughes has looked pretty terrible in his last three matches against GSP twice (who obviously has his number) and Chris Lytle. It seems to be pretty obvious that Hughes is interested in going out with a couple of decent wins under his belt (to erase the GSP shellacking and cement his legacy as a HOF welterweight) so he can go on to retire and run his gym full time. This should provide some pretty serious motivation for him to take the fight seriously and move on to clobber Serra.

    While the rest of the fights aren’t exactly going to restructure their respective divisions in terms of fight outcomes the matchups are all pretty compelling. I don’t see any gross mismatches and the style and talent level all seem to be on a pretty level playing field. That’ll either provide for some really great tactical battles or boring standoffs where both guys are afraid to commit for fear of getting caught making a mistake. Looking forward to it either way. The last month or so has been an awesome time to be a MMA fan with UFC 84, EliteXC, WEC, and now UFC 85 all sandwiched together.

  • Kelvin says:

    Great card considering the circumstances.

  • Hardcharger says:

    If anyone thinks Hughes looked terrible against Chris Lytle, they didn’t watch the fight.

    Lytle is better off his back than Alves, by far. Lytle is nearly impossible to finish on the mat, and has very good subs and strength. Hughes passed his guard, got the crucifix, and beat up Lytle with elbows and gave Lytle a nice gash over his eye. He didn’t stop Lytle, but he dominated him.

    Hughes has just looked bad against GSP. Alves is no GSP.

  • Mike C. says:

    It’s weird that everyone is so down on this card. I am really excited for it. No marquee matchups but a lot of good ones.

  • Michaelthebox says:

    Fitch/Alves isn’t a very good fight to judge by, considering it was almost two years ago. He’s improved a lot since then.

  • king mah mah says:

    Hughes loses to gsp (the champion) and everyone thinks he’s over the hill. BULLSHIT! Look for hughes to submit alves in the 2nd.

  • Ross says:

    Im ranking this fight as a -“go to the bar and watch for free”-
    unlike the last WEC card wich was a “get a
    6 pack,watch live while tivoing the fight, and watch again the next day”

  • Hardcharger says:

    Well, if Fitch-Alves isn’t a good fight to judge by because it was almost 2 years ago, then GSP-Hughes 2 isn’t a real good fight to judge by either, because it was also quite a while ago.

    I’m sure Alves has improved. He was a purple belt then, and got destroyed by Fitch (who has improved himself). It will take a great deal of improvement from Alves to fend off Hughes TDs and the GNP from Hughes.

  • Kogepan says:

    hmmm…after Rogan and Goldberg were practically begging for hughes to retire after 79, I find it laughable that they CHARGING for a PPV featuring this guy as the main event.


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