UFC 85 recap of 'Bedlam' and final thoughts

UFC 85 Recap
In the end, UFC 85: "Bedlam" at the O2 Arena in London, England, on June 7 was put together with Scotch tape and chicken wire -- the fight line up endured perhaps the most last-minute changes and adjustments than any other in recent memory.

But that didn't stop it from being an absolute treat to watch.

The main card fights delivered. In fact, this writer was a perfect 0-5 in our prefight predictions, preview and analysis post. I'll chalk that up to solid match-making and evenly-matched fighters and not a case of total retardedness.

And, after taking some time to check out the preliminary bouts, it's clear that UFC 85 had solid action from bottom to top.

Put simply, it was a good card.

In the main event of the evening, Thiago Alves tooled Matt Hughes much like Georges St. Pierre did at UFC 79: "Nemesis." Hughes looked slow and was unable to execute his gameplan at all. He telegraphed his shots and couldn't keep the Brazilian down even when he was able to secure the takedown.

Alves found his groove in the second frame and lit up the former champion like a Marley-sized spliff. It actually reminded me of Ken Shamrock getting thrashed by Tito Ortiz at UFC 61: "Bitter Rivals."

Here's the deal: Hughes deserves a tremendous amount of credit for doing essentially everything that is asked of him. He's like that best friend who you know will always help you move, paint the house or bail you out of jail at 4 a.m. the morning of his daughter's baptism.

He'll never say no.

But there comes a time when you've got to stop asking him to do you favors. And that's exactly what UFC President Dana White needs to do. Throughout the press conference Hughes directed all the questions about his future to White.

Why?

It's time for Hughes to cash-in on all the goodwill he's provided throughout his years of service. He should call the shots from here on out. Hughes has a fight with Matt Serra essentially guaranteed. He should take that fight and then perhaps one more against a guy like Dennis Hallman.

Hopefully, he can get some revenge, pad his pockets and ride into the sunset and go out to stud on his farm in class.

As for Alves, he looked fantastic. Even though he claims an injured ankle is the reason he didn't make weight, it's still reprehensible. There's no way White and Co. can trust him to headline another show for possibly a championship until he proves he can hit 170 pounds without any problems.

I'd say give him Josh Koscheck, Mike Swick or Diego Sanchez next. In fact, a showdown with the "Nightmare" would be a great way to get him back in the spotlight after a disappointing 2007 fight campaign and possibly a win over a top guy like Alves.

In the co main event, Michael Bisping simply outclassed and outworked an overmatched Jason Day. "The Count" looks great at 185 pounds and is actually closer than we think to a title shot.

If he can defeat Chris Leben in his next bout -- and then perhaps someone like Thales Leites -- then it would be hard to argue that he is undeserving.

Either that or give him the winner of Patrick Cote and Ricardo Almeida -- that would be a big step toward a bout with Anderson Silva sometime soon.

Day showed a ton of heart last night, but he was totally dominated in every aspect of the bout. He got some nice notoriety for taking this fight, which he can hopefully use to his advantage to come back stronger.

Perhaps a full-time commitment to training would be the answer that gets Day over the top.

Mike Swick looked sharp and "quick" during his welterweight showdown with Marcus Davis. It was a far cry from that trainwreck that was his 170-pound debut against Josh Burkman.

The long reach and wirey frame of the former middleweight contender were really visible against the "Irish Hand Grenade." Swick was able to use it and basically do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted to do it.

In addition, his aggressive approach was also visible, which is a Swick trademark. He seems to be on the road back and he wasn't given any cream puffs to ensure his welterweight experience was a successful one.

Expect more of the same going forward.

Davis has now returned to Earth after a cosmic mind boggling 12-fight win streak. He needed this win to prove that he belonged in the top contender discussions. It's hard to predict where he will go from here.

He is still an exciting and talented fighter who can end a fight at literally any second. Davis needs to continue fighting the upper echelon of the division ... why not Karo Parisyan in August?

Perhaps that's too soon but you get the idea.

Thales Leites proved once again that he can endure a drubbing and hang with the best at 185 pounds. He did it against Martin Kampmann at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Finale back in 2006 and he did it again last night against Nate Marquardt.

And this time he came away with the win.

Sure, Marquardt received two point deductions -- one for an illegal knee to the head of a downed opponent and another lame one for an illegal blow to the back of the head (video replay proved otherwise).

Still, that knee put Leites on queer street and he still decided to soldier on. He could have very well said he couldn't continue rather than continuing to get punched in the face really hard.

Marquardt threw everything at him but the kitchen sink bout still couldn't put him away. And Leites did some damage of his own with some surprising stand up improvements.

This was an action-packed three-round fight that was laced with some controversial moments. I say, in the words of Robbie Lawler, "Let's run it back."

Brandon Vera suffered his second straight defeat and second ever of his career against Fabricio Werdum. This was his "second chance" to prove that he belongs in the heavyweight division after the loss to Tim Sylvia last year.

It wasn't meant to be for "The Truth," getting pounded out in the waning seconds of the opening frame. Werdum achieved full mount and was doing some damage, but Vera seemed to be weathering the storm.

The referee, however, didn't see it the same way, calling a halt to the bout perhaps a bit too soon.

Vera was visibly upset and so were the fans. However, upon further review he was not doing much to improve his position even though he appeared to be "intelligently defending himself."

Regardless, the referee is there to ensure that the fighters remain safe and Vera apparently didn't do enough to show that he could endure any more punishment.

It could have gone either way and in this instance it didn't go Vera's.

That's two strikes for Vera at heavyweight and a tough road back to the top. But it only takes one sensational win to get things going again (see Frank Mir).

He has said he can make the cut to light heavyweight but it seems too crowded right now in the 205-pound class. There's no reason to make the drop at this point, but if he struggles his next time out there may not be another option.

Werdum sets himself up nice for an eventual title shot and rematch against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira if "Minotauro" can get passed Mir on New Year's Eve weekend.

That's a bit far away to sit idle. Therefore, he should take on the winner of Brock Lesnar and Heath Herring to determine the number one contender to challenge for the strap in early 2009.

Congratulations to Matt Wiman and Antoni Hardonk for taking care of business on the under card portion of the card. Wiman took out a super tough competitor in Thiago Tavares and Hardonk smashed the better than average Eddie Sanchez.

I didn't see those results coming, either.

All in all UFC 85 had just about everything: Upsets, finishes, controversy and storylines that will have an impact in the near future.

For complete blow-by-blow coverage of UFC 85 click here.

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