UFC 85 Review: Alves Stuns Hughes; Bisping Rolls

The Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight division may have just found its next top contender, as Thiago “Pitbull” Alves finished former champion Matt Hughes by TKO in the 2nd round of their fight at the 02 Arena in London, during the main event of UFC 85.

After not making the required 170-pound weight limit, which he explained by an injured ankle that prevented him from running at least 10 days out from the fight, Alves took it upon himself to show impressively against Hughes, stuffing the former champion’s takedown early in the fight. Hughes actually pulled guard early on, and Alves started to reign down powerful punches.

Hughes eventually did score a takedown in the first session, but he was unable to cause any real damage to his opponent and again the fight was back up. This time on the feet Alves threw Hughes to the ground and started to attack him again before the round ended.

In the second round, Alves recognized the timing of Hughes’ takedowns and uncorked a beautiful flying knee that floored the former champ. Seeing his opponent stunned, Alves moved in for the kill, landing a punch before referee Herb Dean stopped the fight.

Winning his sixth fight in a row and second straight over Top 10 competition, Alves positioned himself as the leading contender to face the winner of Georges St. Pierre and Jon Fitch.

“Mr. Dana White, I’ve been a good boy, I never choose my opponents, and I always give my best inside the Octagon,” said Alves after his win. “Please give me a title shot.”

In the co-main event of the show, Michael Bisping proved once again that the middleweight class is definitely a better division for him as he finished Canadian Jason Day in the first round of their 185-pound match-up.

Bisping came out aggressive early on and seemingly overwhelmed his opponent at every turn during the fight. The British fighter took the fight to the ground early, where he displayed a vicious ground and pound attack.

Day got back to his feet, only to give up a double-leg takedown to Bisping, who proceeded to attack his opponent once again. Bisping took Day’s back, and then transitioned to standing over his opponent, where he blasted Day repeatedly until the referee stepped in to stop the fight.

“I always said I never fought to the best of my ability in the UFC,” Bisping stated in his post fight interview. “I think in my last fight I started to do that, and what can I say, yeah I’m happy with my performance.”

Mike Swick proved that he belongs at 170 pounds, erasing the thoughts of his first fight in the weight class, by pulling out a dominant unanimous decision win over Marcus Davis in England on Saturday night.

Swick took Davis to the ground a number of times, where he proceeded to work a strong ground and pound attack, never letting Davis work much offense during the fight.

Staying out of a boxing match with Davis, it was Swick who controlled the pace of the fight and did more damage, opening numerous cuts on his opponent’s face before the three rounds were over.

Controversy surrounded the first two pay-per-view fights of the evening, as Thales Leites picked up a split decision win over Nate Marquardt and Fabricio Werdum stopped Brandon Vera in the first round of their bout.

Leites and Marquardt both showed a tremendous amount of heart in their contest, but it was the Brazilian who benefited from a couple of mistakes from Marquardt that cost him points on the judges’ scorecards. Leites actually landed the first big shot of the fight, downing Marquardt with a big right hand early on, but he was unable to finish on the ground and the fight continued.

The second round saw Marquardt take over, but a mental mistake led to him unloading a big knee strike, while Leites’ knee was still on the ground. That caused Herb Dean to halt the bout and deduct a point from Marquardt. Leites was able to continue, but Marquardt looked dominant for the remainder of the round.

In the third, Marquardt again looked strong and aggressive bringing the fight to Leites, who looked like he may have been in survival mode. As Leites grabbed at a leg trying to take Marquardt down, Marquardt threw a couple of elbows at Leites’ head. Referee Herb Dean stopped the bout and took another point away from Marquardt for elbows to the back of his opponent’s head.

The replay showed that the elbows appeared to hit Leites more on the side of the head, but it was a close call and Marquardt lost another point. As the judges’ scorecards were read, it was apparent that the two points Marquardt lost definitely cost him the fight, as he dropped a split decision.

Fabricio Werdum picked up his second victory inside the Octagon, stopping Brandon Vera by TKO in the first round of their heavyweight bout. Werdum looked strong early on, taking Vera down, while avoiding any major strikes.

Late in the opening round, Werdum got another takedown and quickly moved into the mount position where he started to unload on Vera with punches. Vera covered up while absorbing the blows, but referee Dan Miragliotta saw enough and stopped the fight.

Vera popped up immediately contesting the stoppage, saying that he knew the round was almost over and he was willing to take the punishment to make it to the next round. The fight instead was stopped and Werdum declared the winner.

After several months of inactivity due to injury, Martin Kampmann made his successful return to the Octagon, submitting veteran Jorge Rivera in the opening round. Matt Wiman finished Thiago Tavares by knockout in their preliminary bout.

One of the bigger surprises of the undercard action had to be jiu-jitsu blue belt Kevin Burns, who submitted black belt Roan Carneiro in the second round.

Luis Can impressed with a TKO stoppage of Jason Lambert. Paul Taylor pulled out a split decision over Jess Liaudin in their rematch. Taylor now has two victories over Liaudin.

In the opening bout of the night, Dutch striker Antoni Hardonk returned to action with a TKO stoppage of Eddie Sanchez in round two of the event’s opening bout.

Full Results:
-Thiago Alves def. Matt Hughes by TKO (Strikes) at 1:02, R2
-Michael Bisping def. Jason Day by TKO (Strikes) at 3:42, R1
-Mike Swick def. Marcus Davis by Unanimous Decision, R3
-Thales Leites def. Nate Marquardt by Split Decision, R3
-Fabricio Werdum def. Brandon Vera by TKO (Strikes) at 4:40, R1
-Martin Kampmann def. Jorge Rivera by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 2:34, R1
-Matt Wiman def. Thiago Tavares by KO at 1:57, R2
-Kevin Burns def. Roan Carneiro by Submission (Triangle Choke) at 3:56, R2
-Luis Cane def. Jason Lambert by TKO (Strikes) at 2:07, R1
-Paul Taylor def. Jess Liaudin by Split Decision, R3
-Antoni Hardonk def. Eddie Sanchez by TKO (Strikes) at 4:15, R2