The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Monday announced that Chuck Liddell had to withdraw from his UFC 85 main event bout against Rashad Evans due to an injury.
“Unfortunately, Chuck Liddell tore his right hamstring during training last week, and being the warrior that he is, he still wanted to fight, which is the reason why everyone in the world loves him,” said UFC president Dana White. “But I wouldn’t let anyone fight with his leg looking that way. Let him heal and come back and fight when he is 100 percent.”
Although the UFC has made no formal announcement, MMAWeekly.com was able to confirm that James Irvin has agreed to step in and face Evans on June 7 in London in Liddell’s absence. Sources close to both fighters’ camps acknowledged the bout.
Irvin competed recently at the April 2 event in Broomfield, Colo., which makes for a quick return by UFC standards. His bout with Houston Alexander lasted just eight seconds though, leaving Irvin tied with Don Frye for the quickest knockout in UFC history.
Following an impressive knockout of Sean Salmon little more than a year ago, Evans enters the bout coming off of a frustrating draw with former UFC champion Tito Ortiz and then a split decision over Michael Bisping.
Neither Evans nor Irvin were available for comment at the time of publication.
Evans on Monday, however, expressed to MMAWeekly his disappointment at the withdrawal of Liddell, but indicated he wanted to remain on the fight card, not wanting to go an extended period of time without a fight.
In Liddell, UFC 85 loses much of the drawing power of its headline bout. The promotion intends to make up for that by loading up UFC 85 with 13 bouts, which is the most that it has had on one fight card in more than a decade.
“We’re adding fights to the card and rearranging it so the U.K. fans won’t have to worry, we’ll still be bringing an amazing card to London and the O2 Arena,” said White.
There has also been recent speculation that popular British fighter and Ultimate Fighter season three winner Michael Bisping – fresh off of a victory over Charles McCarthy this past weekend in Montreal – may become a late addition to the fight card.
UFC 85 Bouts (officially announced):
-Fabricio Werdum vs. Brandon Vera
-Martin Kampmann vs. Jorge Rivera
-Nate Marquardt vs. Thales Leites
-Thiago Tavares vs. Matt Wiman
-Marcus Davis vs. Mike Swick
-Luis Arthur Cane vs. Jason Lambert
-Neil Wain vs. Antoni Hardonk
UFC 85 Bouts (unannounced):
-Rashad Evans vs. James Irvin
-Ryo Chonan vs. Roan Carneiro
-Jess Liaudin vs. Paul Taylor