UFC 85: "Bedlam" is set for tomorrow, Saturday June 7, from the O2 Arena in London, England. The main card action is set to begin at 3 p.m. ET on pay-per-view (PPV).
Remember: MMAmania.com will provide LIVE updates and blow-by-blow, round-by-round commentary of the main card action throughout the telecast. As usual, it promises to be a great discussion during an exciting night of fights.
To get us pumped for the afternoon festivities, Mania himself will attempt to clear his bad name after a disastrous contribution the last time he appeared in this column, going toe-to-toe with senior writer and turgid egomaniac Jesse Holland with predictions for the upcoming event.
The mission: Forecast which fighters will leave the Octagon with their hands raised during the featured fights of the show.
It’s important to note for the predictions that while someone may be lauding a certain fighter, he isn’t necessarily the guy who he thinks is going to win.
Basically, we never want this to come out sounding repetitive. At the end of each analysis, therefore, you will see the individual picks at the conclusion of the write ups.
Let’s get to it:
Matt Hughes (42-6) vs. Thiago Alves (14-3)
Jesse Holland: What I find surprising about Matt Hughes is how many people are throwing in the towel when it comes to his career. And for what? Losing to Georges St. Pierre? Hughes is 21-3 since 2001 and aside from the two to GSP his only other loss was the upset to current UFC lightweight champion BJ Penn at UFC 46 -- a loss he avenged in 2006. Hughes’ biggest asset coming into this fight is his experience. Not only has he held the welterweight strap, he's defeated some of the best 170-pound fighters in the world. He knows how to fight on the big stage and since when is being 34 washed up? Hughes doesn't carry around a lot of excess muscle and his body has remained relatively healthy over the years. As far as I'm concerned, this entire fight is going to depend on how well Alves can defend the shot. Hughes' dominance on the ground is the stuff of legend and Alves has not shown me enough in his wins or his losses to convince me he's able to defend someone as strong and as relentless as Hughes. It would not surprise me to see a vintage slam and if Hughes can set the pace early against Alves -- who often needs more time to warm up than my sister's '72 Bonneville. This one isn't going to make it out of the first round.
MMAmania: "The Pitbull" has been on a role since his eight-month suspension for ingesting a banned substance (diuretic), finishing his last three opponents in impressive fashion. His upset stoppage of top contender and super tough Karo Parisyan at UFC Fight Night 13 catapulted him into the upper echelon of the very loaded 170-pound division. And a win over a high-profile former champion such as Matt Hughes will only raise his stock that much more. Alves has a fantastic and devastating striking arsenal, whether it's crushing knees, strafing kicks or powerful punch combinations. He'll need to keep this fight upright if he has any hopes of toppling Hughes, which could be troublesome because Hughes will more than likely do everything in his power to take him down. Alves trains at arguably the top gym in the world at American Top Team and has some of the most talented training partners around him. There's no question that he has drilled takedown defense to prepare for Hughes' attack as much as Jesse Holland abuses his plastic Asian blow-up princess. Alves needs to keep his distance with a mix of jabs and kicks as make Hughes pay with knees anytime he gets close. Alves -- who is just 24-years-old and has never been on such a big stage -- needs to stay composed early and put the label as a slow starter behind him ... otherwise it's going to be a disappointing night for the proud Brazilian. Much worse than the weigh-in debacle.
Jesse Holland: Hughes via technical knockout
MMAmania: Hughes via submission
Michael Bisping (15-1) vs. Jason Day (17-5)
Jesse Holland: Jason Day has won five straight and is 15-2 since 2005. He's also coming off an impressive UFC debut where he defeated Alan Belcher with strikes in the first round at UFC 83. He's a talented striker who ends almost half of his fights via (T)KO and has been known to pull off an armbar or two. Day has his hands full against Bisping, but if he follows the example set by Matt Hamill and Rashad Evans he can pull this one off. "The Count" doesn't like to get hit, and gets a little flustered when he's beaten to the punch. Day needs to work the jab and keep the pressure on without lingering in the pocket for an undue amount of time. The goal is to frustrate Bisping and keep him off balance and out of sorts. Stick and move! Even with the move to 185, I'm still not convinced that Bisping has a full tank of gas and Day can use that to his advantage. The crowd will be more of a factor for Bisping than it will for Day with Bisping having the pressure of performing in front of his hometown. If he can cut off the ring and be the aggressor, it's likely he can steal this one.
MMAmania: The popular British mixed martial artist, Michael Bisping, is no stranger to being in the spotlight before a roaring hometown crowd. Saturday night will be no different. Bisping will look to erase the memories of his last performance in London -- the controversial win over Matt Hamill at UFC 75: "Champion vs. Champion" -- with an impressive showing against Jason Day. "The Count" looks fit, agile and powerful at 185 pounds and will be determined to finish the Canadian and avoid leaving the decision up to the judges. As usual, there will be a tremendous amount of pressure on Bisping to win, but as we've seen in the past he's passed the test before. Day is a gritty opponent who has said on numerous occasions that he intends to stand and bang to put on a show for all those watching from around the world. That's not the best strategy if it is indeed accurate -- Bisping has some nice stand up skills. But as we witnessed against Alan Belcher, Day is capable of finishing his opponents while upright. This is a tough fight to predict because there is no quit in either of these two fighters -- in 38 combined professional fights between the two only three bouts have gone to decision. Expect more of the same this time around.
Jesse Holland: Bisping via technical knockout
MMAmania: Day via technical knockout
Nate Marquardt (26-7) vs. Thales Leites (12-1)
Jesse Holland: Thales Leites is a 12-1 jiu-jitsu machine that is making his fifth UFC appearance since he debuted against Martin Kampmann at UFC Ultimate Finale 4 back in 2006. He is also coming off two straight first-round submission wins against Ryan Jensen and Floyd Sword and looks to keep that streak going. He will have his hands full, however, against Marquardt who has excellent submission defense. The key for Leites will be inside fighting. If he can't get any type of submission offense going then he has to use any closed distance opportunities to land bombs. Whether it be on the floor or against the cage he has to stay busy and keep the pace high. Marquardt has been known to play it safe and that gives Leites his best chance for victory. I don't think he's good enough to defeat Marquardt, but I do think he can take home the decision if he outworks him.
MMAmania: Nate Marquardt -- the soft-spoken, one-time 185-pound title challenger -- is out to prove that he is still among the best middleweights in the world. His loss to Anderson Silva hurt real bad and set him back quite a bit. But then he nearly ripped Jeremy Horn's neck off his spine in a very impressive win at UFC 81: "Breaking Point." He's got tremendous power and fantastic defense -- Dean Lister, a very craft Brazilian jiu-jitsu player, could do absolutely nothing in their bout at UFC Fight Night 8. Thales Leites relies heavily on his jiu-jitsu prowess and has some of the best submissions in the sport right now. His stand up, however, is a glaring weakness that was exposed in his Octagon debut against Martin Kampmann at TUF 4 Finale. He is the perfect opponent for an experienced veteran such as Marquardt. He can't hurt him on the feet and more than likely will be unable to sink in a submission unless there is a catastrophic lapse on the part of Marquardt. Let's just hope that the "new" Nate continues to enter the eight-sided cage with bad intentions and does not revert back to his old, boring and careful approach.
Jesse Holland: Marquardt via unanimous decision
MMAmania: Marquardt via unanimous decision
Mike Swick (11-2) vs. Marcus Davis (14-3)
Jesse Holland: Mike Swick is back from a lackluster performance and has something to prove. He dropped down to 170 after a tough loss to Yushin Okami and looked a little flat in a winning effort against Josh Burkman but I think he was adjusting to the new weight class. Against Davis I expect to see the Swick of old. He shares the nickname "Quick" with MMAmania (who was awarded that moniker by his ex-girlfriends) and I favor him in this match-up against Davis. "The Irish Hand Grenade" certainly has the advantage in power, but I consider Swick to have cleaner, more refined stand-up. True that Davis is a former boxer but Swick is a better MMA striker and his combinations are rock solid. Swick is tall and lean and he should have no trouble staying out of the range of Davis -- who also has improved submission skills. But are they good enough to submit a wily Swick? Doubtful. But even more doubtful is the likelihood of this becoming a ground war. Davis is going to try and bully Swick and it wouldn't surprise me to see a lot of time spent pressed against the cage. If Swick can avoid the knockout punch, he can and should batter Davis to a unanimous decision.
MMAmania: Is there a hotter fighter right now than the "Irish Hand Grenade?" He has 11 consecutive wins coming into this bout and has vastly improved since his stint on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). Davis punches like he has a roll of quarters packed in each fist, which he'll look to put on display this weekend. In addition, he has "Big Nog"-esque recuperative powers (see Paul Taylor) -- Davis has never been stopped via strikes. His opponent, on the other hand, has been dropped earlier in his career. And he has not necessarily demonstrated an ability to finish fights from his feet. However, Swick is extremely dangerous with his complete all-around tool box (skills, not Jesse Holland.) He can certainly finish Davis, but it’s just not likely going to happen if the two opt to stand toe-to-toe. And that's possibly how this might pan out. Swick is coming off a poor winning performance and might feel the need to go out and go balls to the wall. It's a strategy that could literally blow up in his face courtesy of a Davis five-knuckle hand grenade.
Jesse Holland: Swick via unanimous decision
MMAmania: Davis via knockout
Brandon Vera (8-1) vs. Fabricio Werdum (10-3-1)
Jesse Holland: As it stands, Brandon Vera is probably the only heavyweight in the division who has a chance of defeating current champion Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogeuira. The unfortunate thing for Vera is that he was on a torrid pace in the UFC until contract negotiations and some other monkey business kept him out of action. In fact, he's only had one fight since November of 2006 -- a decision loss to Tim Sylvia at UFC 77. Nevertheless, he is a dangerous fighter. He has blinding speed in his strikes and throws kicks like a guy half his weight. He also has a solid ground game and decent submission skills. Werdum is a talented, agile fighter, but he goes into defensive mode when he gets into trouble. Vera needs to keep it standing where he has the distinct advantage and force Werdum to make a mistake. Leg kicks will be the order of the day and as long as he doesn't get wrapped up in the showmanship aspect of this fight, he can end it convincingly.
MMAmania: Sans a bad unanimous decision loss to Andrei Arlovski, Fabricio Werdum has shown that he is among the top heavyweights on the planet. He has two wins over Gabriel Gonzaga, a submission victory over Aleksander Emelianenko, as well as Alistair Overeem, and put up a great fight against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in a losing effort while competing under the Pride FC banner. He can cause anyone some major problems if he can impose his will and has time to work his top shelf submission game. Werdum is not known for his striking, which could be a concern if Brandon Vera is able to keep this contest upright. "The Truth" has serious Muay Thai skills that are capable of putting Werdum on his ass at any moment from any angle. He's quick and agile for the division, posing some interesting challenges for the Brazilian. If he is able to takedown Vera, chances are that Vera's submission defense is good enough to thwart just about anything and his superb wrestling will help him escape from any dangerous situations on the mat. This is a bad match up for Werdum.
Jesse Holland: Vera via technical knockout
MMAmania: Vera via technical knockout
That’s a wrap, folks.
Remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and our coverage of UFC 85: "Bedlam." For the complete fight card click here.
What do you think? Now it’s your turn … let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for UFC 85.