The main event of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s return to London on June 7 hasn’t found the day all that lucky. The promotion on Monday announced that one half of its headlining bout, former UFC champion Chuck Liddell, had to withdraw due to a severe right hamstring injury.
Liddell was originally slated to face former Pride Fighting Championships champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. His opponent was later changed to Rashad Evans when Rua had to withdraw due to a knee injury.
Now, with Liddell out of action for the foreseeable future, it is Evans that is left waiting and wondering.
Contacted by MMAWeekly.com, Evans expressed his disappointment that Liddell had to withdraw from the bout. He did, however, state that he does want to remain on the card, hopefully avoiding a rather long layoff.
Although Sherdog.com is reporting that several sources indicate James Irvin – who recently knocked out Houston Alexander in just eight seconds – is considered the frontrunner to face Evans, the UFC has not named a replacement.
“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.”
It will be difficult for the promotion to put together another headline bout with as much drawing power as Liddell carries into a bout. The UFC 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 UK fans won’t have to worry, we’ll still be bringing an amazing card to London and the O2 Arena,” said White.
UFC 85 Bouts (officially announced):
-Rashad Evans vs. TBA
-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):
-Ryo Chonan vs. Roan Carneiro
-Jess Liaudin vs. Paul Taylor