The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Thursday officially announced that Rashad Evans will replace injured Brazilian Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in the main event of UFC 85 on June 7 in London.
The main event had been scheduled to feature a showdown between former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell and Rua, a former Pride Fighting Championships Grand Prix champion. Rua, however, re-injured his knee and is expected to have surgery on it this weekend.
Liddell, returning from a decisive performance en route to a unanimous decision victory over Wanderlei Silva at UFC 79 in December, will now face Evans. A member of the popular Greg Jackson-trained fight team in Albuquerque, N.M., Evans is also the winner of the heavyweight competition on the second season of The Ultimate Fighter reality series.
“Chuck showed in his last fight against Wanderlei Silva that he’s regained the fire he needs to win back the UFC light heavyweight title,” said UFC president Dana White. “But to earn that opportunity he now has to do what no one else has been able to do, and that’s defeat Rashad Evans.”
“I’m real excited about fighting in London,” Liddell said. “Rashad is a difficult challenge for me, he’s getting better with every fight. He’s unbeaten and he doesn’t know how to lose – but I always go in expecting a knockout.”
Evans, however, didn’t flinch at taking the fight with Liddell.
“I had no hesitation taking this fight,” he said. “Liddell is a legend but I think I am the best and the only way to prove that is to fight and beat the best.”
The promotion also announced for UFC 85 at the O2 Arena was a heavyweight bout between MMAWeekly.com No. 7 ranked Fabricio Werdum and rising star Brandon Vera.
Expected to be on the fight card, but not yet announced, is a bout between the returning Martin Kampmann and Jorge Rivera, and the participation of No. 10 ranked welterweight Marcus Davis.