UFC 85 pre-fight analysis and predictions
Two weeks removed from one of the best PPV’s of the year, the UFC is back with UFC 85: Ill will.
The card has been plagued by a number of injuries sustained by scheduled fighters, forcing the UFC to restructure the fight card numerous times. Originally, the main event was to be between light heavyweights Chuck Liddell and Mauricio Rua; however, Rua underwent knee and could not compete. Rashad Evans then replaced Rua in the main event with Liddell, but Liddell was forced to withdraw from the card due to a hamstring injury. The UFC then named James Irvin as Liddell’s replacement to fight Evans, but Irvin sustained a foot injury that forced him to pull out. Evans has now been removed from the card as well. The main event is currently set for Matt Hughes against Thiago Alves and there is no title fight on this card.
Here are my predictions and analysis for the main card:
Marcus Davis vs. Mike Swick
This is one of two fights that are really close and pretty tough to call. The odds makers have this bout at -115 for both fighters. You have the quick, crafty striker vs. the powerful boxer with decent submissions. Marcus Davis is on an incredible 11-fight win streak and he hasn’t gone to a decision since 2006. He has real power in his hands, and has really tweaked his submission game. Swick is coming off a less then impressive victory over Josh Burkman. That fight was Swick’s first at 170lbs, so maybe I should cut him a little slack. Swick has a hard time with strong opponents and Marcus Davis is a strong guy. Still, I see Swick be able to use his speed to his advantage, picking Davis apart and grinding out a decision.
Prediction: Mike Swick â€“ Split Decision
Michael Bisping vs. Jason Day
Michael Bisping gets a tough challenge in Jason Day. Jason “Dooms” Day is 17-5 and has finished 16 fights by either submission or knockout. Day is a very well rounded fighter and is coming off of a TKO victory over Alan “The Talent” Belcher. Bisping is very well conditioned, though, and brings a wealth of UFC experience inside the octagon. I see him taking this fight into round three, testing Day’s conditioning and scoring a TKO victory.
Prediction: Michael Bisping â€“ KO/TKO Round 3
Fabricio Werdum vs. Brandon Vera
This is another close fight to call. The odds makers have Fabricio Werdum as the underdog, but I see this fight close to even. I think Brandon Vera has better stand up then Fabricio Werdum, but Vera is coming off of an injury where his hand was broken in his last fight with Tim Sylvia. Hopefully that hand is completely healed, and we see Brandon Vera come into this fight 100%. When Werdum fought Andrei Arlosvki, Werdum wanted no part in the stand up game with Arlovski. Vera is a more dynamic striker then Arlovski. I see Werdum trying to take this fight to the ground and being unsuccessful. As long as Vera comes into this fight healthy and well conditioned, he can win.
Prediction: Brandon Vera â€“ TKO/KO Round 2
Nate Marquardt vs. Thales Leites
After being completely decimated by Anderson Silva (who hasn’t been though) , Nate Marquardt got himself back on the winning track by submitting Jeremy Horn at UFC 81. Marquardt finds himself taking on the 12-1 submission fighter Thales Leites. Both fighters have won the majority of their fights by submission, but Marquardt brings a lot more experience into the octagon. Marquardt is tough and resilient and I think he will overwhelm Thales, much like Martin Kampmann did.
Prediction: Nate Marquardt â€“ UD
Main Event: Welterweights
Matt Hughes vs. Thiago Alves
After losing by TKO to GSP, I am surprised Matt Hughes took a fight with another powerful striker. When GSP annihilated Hughes for the second time, he showed the whole world the blue print on how to beat Matt Hughes; stand up with him. When Hughes realized he was getting destroyed on the feet, he went for the takedowns and was repeatedly denied by GSP. Hughes boxing and kickboxing skills are severely limited, and that forces him to rely on his wrestling and ground and pound.
If Thiago Alves were smart, he would be training his takedown defense every day, while working on honing his stand up skills. Alves has some serious power, and is coming off of a KO victory over Karo Paryisan, a guy who is really hard to knock out.
In my mind, this fight comes down to an X-Factor â€“ Thiago Alves’ takedown defense. If he can deny Hughes’ wrestling, he can win this fight. If he can’t neutralize Hughes’ wrestling, then we will see a typical Matt Hughes victory: takedown > ground and pound > stoppage.
Still, I have to think that the young, powerful Thiago Alves is the newer generation of mixed martial artists that know how to adapt to their opponents strengths. ATT probably has a solid game plan for Alves and I think Alves will be able to knock Matt Hughes out.
Prediction: Thiago Alves â€“ KO/TKO â€“ Round 3