by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Amidst a flurry of activity this week, the Ultimate Fighting Championship on Friday officially confirmed the changing line-up for its return to London on June 7. UFC 85 underwent a hefty facelift this week, starting with a main event of Chuck Liddell vs. Rashad Evans and ended with a new main event of Matt Hughes vs. Thiago Alves.
After Liddell was forced to withdraw – for the first time in his career – due to injury, the UFC went to work on a revised line-up. Although a bout was quickly put together between Evans and James Irvin, speculation pointed to a possible headline change to popular British fighter Michael Bisping facing “The Ultimate Fighter” season one alum Chris Leben.
Then on Friday a surprise announcement came via Hughes’ website that he would be fighting Alves in the main event of UFC 85. Alves’ camp also confirmed the bout to MMAWeekly.com.
Late Friday afternoon, the UFC confirmed all of the above bouts. Hughes will indeed face Alves in the main event, Evans vs. Irvin was confirmed, and the bout between Bisping and Leben was also confirmed, although it will play second fiddle to Hughes vs. Alves.
“Obviously Chuck Liddell’s injury was a big blow, but as always our incredible fighters step up to give fans the best possible replacement,” said Dana White, UFC president. “Now we will see an explosive matchup between top ten ranked contender Thiago Alves and two-time former UFC world champion Matt Hughes.”
In a statement earlier in the week announcing Liddell’s withdrawal, the UFC stated it would expand the UFC 85 fight card to 13 bouts.
In addition to the line-up changes, Friday’s statement also cleared up the broadcast status of UFC 85. Despite speculation that the event would be televised on Spike TV, the UFC informed that the event will be available in the United States on pay-per-view.
UFC 85 Bouts (officially announced):
-Matt Hughes vs. Thiago Alves
-Michael Bisping vs. Chris Leben
-Marcus Davis vs. Mike Swick
-Rashad Evans vs. James Irvin
-Fabricio Werdum vs. Brandon Vera
-Martin Kampmann vs. Jorge Rivera
-Thiago Tavares vs. Matt Wiman
-Nate Marquardt vs. Thales Leites
-Luis Arthur Cane vs. Jason Lambert
-Neil Wain vs. Antoni Hardonk
UFC 85 Bouts (unannounced):
-Ryo Chonan vs. Roan Carneiro
-Jess Liaudin vs. Paul Taylor