To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to UFC 85 until I watched part of the countdown show for last night. From what I was able to view, the show did great job of getting me excited for the Matt Hughes vs. Thiago Alves fight.
What really helped me get into it was the attention that Alves received during the show. All I really knew about Alves is that his Muay Thai has really come on and that his ground game was very good as well. I had no idea who he was as a person. During last night’s show, he was portrayed as the opposite of Hughes. Alves was depicted as a cocky (but not arrogant) kid who likes the ladies and the club scene.
The show even offered some backstory in that Hughes once took a shot at Alves during a seminar in Florida that Hughes was teaching. Hughes apparently made some crack at Alves regarding his UFC debut, which he lost. Hughes didn’t recall the comment but didn’t rule out the possibility that he said it. However, Alves said he remembers it well and it’s bothered him ever since.
Contrived drama? Perhaps. But Matt Hughes is the same guy who once tried to joke with Joe Riggs about having beaten her husband up a few weeks earlier so it’s real easy to believe that he took a pot shot at Alves.
Hughes, Georges St. Pierre, Jon Fitch, Matt Serra, Karo Parisyan, Diego Sanchez, and Josh Koscheck are the core members of the UFC’s welterweight division but Alves has been coming on strong as of late and a win over Hughes would catapult him into the upper-echelon at 170 pounds.
It’s an intriguing fight because I believe that Alves is a bad matchup for Hughes. Hughes needs to get this fight to the ground because if he doesn’t, his standup skills will be no match for Alves’. I have yet to finalize my prediction for the fight, but I am giving serious consideration to calling an upset.
Overall, UFC 85 doesn’t have any huge matchups with title implications, but it’s going to answer a lot of questions about the food chain in several weight classes. The winner of Brandon Vera vs. Fabricio Werdum could earn a title shot with the bout. For Vera, a win likely puts him back in the top ten rankings for most people. If Werdum wins, he could move up a couple of notches.
In the case of Marcus Davis, he’s been on the cusp of my top ten welterweights for several months. The only thing preventing him from breaking in was a win over a top ten opponent. Mike Swick isn’t top ten, but if Davis wins then if may have to invoke the Ben Rothwell rule and put him in the top ten simply because he’s gone through everyone put him front of him. Swick needs the win bad but more importantly, he needs to look good in doing so. He beat Josh Burkman in January, but to many people, it feels like a loss because it was such a disappointing fight.
Looking at Thales Leites vs. Nathan Marquardt, a win by Leites could earn him a shot at Anderson Silva. As for Marquardt, who knows what a win does for him? He joins Dan Henderson and Rich Franklin in middleweight puragtory as he’s had his shot vs. Silva and got beat.
The Michael Bisping vs. Jason Day matchup doesn’t excite me, no matter how much bass the UFC voiceover guy uses when he mentions the matchup in the pay-per-view ads, but Day can become a household name with the upset while Bisping could move a step closer to being top 10 at 185 lbs. with an impressive showing.
Suddenly, I am looking forward to this card. I’m a huge fan of afternoon MMA and while there aren’t any epic fights scheduled for UFC 85, the matchups are pretty solid and we could be treated to a show of great fights from top-to-bottom.