Former UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes will face up-and-coming welterweight contender Thiago Alves, who defeated Karo Parisyan in impressive fashion earlier this month, in the main event of UFC 85. The UFC officially announced the headlining bout late this afternoon.
UFC 85 takes place June 7th at the O2 Arena in London, England and will be broadcast live on pay-per-view in the United States beginning at 3pm ET.
The UFC has also announced that James Irvin, fresh of an 8-second knockout of Houston Alexander earlier this month, will fill in for an injured Chuck Liddell against Rashad Evans in a main card bout and Michael Bisping, who successfully made his middleweight debut last weekend at UFC 83 in a win over Charles McCarthy, will take on Chris Leben in a 185-pound showdown.
Press release quotes from UFC President Dana White, Matt Hughes, Thiago Alves, and Rashad Evans after the jump…
For more on UFC 85 check out the MMAFrenzy.com rumors section.
UFC President Dana White:
â€œObviously Chuck Liddell’s injury was a big blow, but as always our incredible fighters step up to give fans the best possible replacement. Now we will see an explosive matchup between top ten ranked contender Thiago â€œPitbullâ€ Alves and two time former UFC World Champion Matt Hughes. Alves is an ATT trained Muay Thai wrecking machine coming off of five straight wins and Hughes is a powerhouse wrestler who was the most dominant welterweight champion in UFC history. These are two of the best athletes in the sport and we are thrilled to bring them to London for the UFC 85 main event.â€
“Thiago is coming off a big win against Karo Parisyan, so honestly, Iâ€™ll probably look to take him down, try to wear him out and get him a little slower because heâ€™s got such quick punches, knees, and kicks,â€ said Hughes. â€œI think strength will come into play, me being bigger than he is, but Iâ€™m glad to fight Thiago. Heâ€™s a nice guy and I really like American Top Team, so itâ€™s kinda nice to fight somebody I like and whose coaching staff is friendly.â€
I love England. I had a lot of fun when I fought over there last time. The fans are very knowledgeable and respectful, so Iâ€™m very happy to go over there. When Dana spoke to me about fighting in England, the first thing I thought was â€˜Iâ€™d love to go back.â€™
Last Tuesday I was at practice and I did the whole practice, I didnâ€™t just coach. When my boys ran sprints, I ran sprints, and everything I taught them, I did as well. So from there I kinda got the itch to where I said â€˜hey, Iâ€™m not in bad shape,â€™ and my plan was to start getting ready to return. Then Dana called and I didnâ€™t hesitate to take the fight.”
“â€œHe has been the man for so many years and has defended it more than any other champ so I’m excited for this opportunity to fight him. Thank you Joe Silva and Dana White.
I’m super excited to be fighting in England. I’ve never fought there before and the crowds look like they really get into the fights.”
â€œI think itâ€™s a very good fight,â€ said Evans. â€œIâ€™m not fighting Chuck Liddell, but Irvin is definitely on the top level. Heâ€™s got big punching power and heâ€™s proven himself time and time again, so Iâ€™m definitely happy to fight a top tier opponent. Liddell and Irvin have similar fighting styles, and you have to go out there and fight them. You canâ€™t go in there and hopefully get a takedown on them. Youâ€™ve got to go in there and fight these guys straight up.â€