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Friday, April 25, 2008


Courtesy of the Ultimate Fighting Championship:

For Immediate Release:
April 25, 2008



Tickets on Sale Now

Las Vegas, NV (USA) – On Saturday, June 7th, welterweight legend Matt Hughes begins his quest for an unprecedented third 170-pound UFC® crown when he battles Brazilian banger Thiago “Pitbull” Alves in the main event of UFC 85, which will be held at the O2 Arena in London, England.

“Obviously Chuck Liddell's injury was a big blow, but as always our incredible fighters step up to give fans the best possible replacement," said Dana White, UFC President. "Now we will see an explosive matchup between top ten ranked contender Thiago “Pitbull” 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.”

Also added to UFC 85, which will pack 13 high-impact bouts onto one unforgettable card, is a middleweight showdown between UK superstar Michael "The Count" Bisping and Chris "The Crippler" Leben, and a light heavyweight contest featuring "Sugar" Rashad Evans against knockout artist James "The Sandman" Irvin.

Tickets for UFC 85 are on sale now priced at £45, £75, £125, £175, £200 and £295. Tickets are available through www.ticketmaster.co.uk and the O2 Arena Box Office.

UFC 85 is available live on pay-per-view in the United States at 3:00pm EST/Noon PST and on replay at 10:00pm EST/7:00pm PST on iN DEMAND, DIRECTV, DISH Network, TVN, Bell ExpressVu, Shaw Communications and Viewer’s Choice Canada for a suggested retail price of $44.95 ($49.99 CAD) and $54.95 for HD where available.

For Hughes, UFC 85 will mark his second trip to fight in the UK, following his fourth round TKO of Carlos Newton in defense of his welterweight title back in July of 2002. Alves, a Muay Thai wrecking machine who is fresh off a second round TKO of highly-regarded Karo Parisyan, knows that a win over the future Hall of Famer will move him right in line for a shot at current welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. Hughes is ready for what may be one of his stiffest tests.

“Thiago is coming off a big win against Karo Parisyan, so honestly, I’ll probably look to take him down, try to wear him out and get him a little slower because he’s got such quick punches, knees, and kicks,” said Hughes. “I think strength will come into play, me being bigger than he is, but I’m glad to fight Thiago. He’s a nice guy and I really like American Top Team, so it’s kinda nice to fight somebody I like and whose coaching staff is friendly.”

Alves shares this view with his opponent.

“He 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,” said Alves. “Thank you Joe Silva and Dana White.”

As for fighting in front of the enthusiastic UK fans, both welterweight standouts are chomping at the bit to cross the pond into England.

“I love England,” said Hughes. “I had a lot of fun when I fought over there last time. The fans are very knowledgeable and respectful, so I’m very happy to go over there. When Dana spoke to me about fighting in England, the first thing I thought was ‘I’d love to go back.’”

“I'm super excited to be fighting in England,” adds Alves. “I've never fought there before and the crowds look like they really get into the fights.”

Winner of 43 of 49 fights, Hillsboro, Illinois’ Matt Hughes (43-6) needs no introduction to fight fans. Owner of the welterweight title twice over the course of his decade long career, the 34-year old Hughes defended his crown seven times over those two reigns, defeating the likes of St-Pierre, BJ Penn, Sean Sherk, Frank Trigg, and Royce Gracie. Following a successful nationwide tour for his recent autobiography, Hughes was expecting a break from the Octagon™, but recently, the itch to compete returned, and when he was contacted about fighting Alves and replacing the scrapped UFC 85 main event between Chuck Liddell and Rashad Evans, he jumped at the chance.

“Last Tuesday I was at practice and I did the whole practice, I didn’t just coach,” said Hughes. “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 ‘hey, I’m not in bad shape,’ and my plan was to start getting ready to return. Then Dana called and I didn’t hesitate to take the fight.”

One of mixed martial arts’ most exciting young stars, Thiago "Pitbull" Alves (20-4) has evolved from a reckless striker into a well-rounded combatant who is dangerous wherever a fight may take him. Just 24 years old, the Fortaleza, Brazil native is currently riding a five fight winning streak that has seen him score early wins over Tony DeSouza, Kuniyoshi Hironaka, Chris Lytle, and most recently, Parisyan. On June 7th, he gets his chance to shine in front of an international audience.

The winner of the third season of The Ultimate Fighter®, Manchester, England’s Michael "The Count" Bisping (16-1) has proven to be more than just a reality show product thus far in his UFC career. Winner of five out of six UFC fights, with the only loss a razor-thin decision to Rashad Evans, Bisping dropped to the middleweight division in April and his emphatic first round win over Charles McCarthy proved that he is a force to be reckoned with at 185 pounds.

A charismatic force in the middleweight division who refuses to be in a boring fight, Chris “The Crippler” Leben (18-4) goes in only one direction in the Octagon – forward. Known for his granite chin and concussive power, Leben is coming off back to back stoppage wins over Alessio Sakara and Terry Martin, and he would like nothing better than to make Bisping his next victim.

Undefeated in 17 pro fights, "Sugar" Rashad Evans (16-0-1) has used a mix of wrestling ability, strong standup, athleticism, and determination to sail to the upper reaches of the light heavyweight division. Winner of the The Ultimate Fighter’s second season, Evans has since pounded out wins over Stephen Bonnar, Jason Lambert, and Michael Bisping. Originally scheduled to fight Chuck Liddell on June 7th, Evans has nonetheless readjusted his training regimen and is looking forward to putting on a spectacular performance for British fans against James Irvin.

“I think it’s a very good fight,” said Evans. “I’m not fighting Chuck Liddell, but Irvin is definitely on the top level. He’s got big punching power and he’s proven himself time and time again, so I’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 can’t go in there and hopefully get a takedown on them. You’ve got to go in there and fight these guys straight up.”

Perhaps the hardest puncher in the light heavyweight division today, James "The Sandman" Irvin (14-4, 1 no contest) returns to the Octagon just two months after his eight second destruction of Houston Alexander on April 2nd. That’s just fine with the Sacramento product, whose only loss in his last five bouts came when he injured his knee early in a fight with Thiago Silva last May. On June 7th, he gets the chance to move up another rung on the 205-pound ladder.

The remaining bouts for UFC 85 will be announced in the near future. All bouts are live and subject to change. For further information on the UFC visit www.ufc.com or uk.ufc.com or www.ufcespanol.com.

About The Ultimate Fighting Championship

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is the world’s leading professional mixed martial arts organization and offers the premier series of MMA sports events. Owned and operated by Zuffa, LLC, and headquartered in Las Vegas, Nev., UFC produces over twelve live pay-per-view events annually that are distributed residentially through North American cable and satellite providers including iNDEMAND Networks, DIRECTV, DISH Network, TVN Entertainment, Shaw Pay-Per-View, Bell ExpressVU, Viewers Choice, SaskTel Max™ and via the Internet worldwide on Yahoo! Sports, and commercially through Joe Hand Promotions in the U.S. and Canadastar in Canada. In addition to its North American distribution, UFC programming is distributed in over 100 countries and territories throughout the world. For more information, or current UFC fight news, visit www.ufc.com or uk.ufc.com or www.ufcespanol.com.

Ultimate Fighting Championship, Ultimate Fighting, UFC, The Ultimate Fighter®, Submission®, As Real As It Gets®, Zuffa™, The Octagon™ and the eight-sided competition mat and cage design are registered trademarks, trademarks, trade dress or service marks owned exclusively by Zuffa, LLC in the United States and other jurisdictions. All other marks referenced herein may be the property of Zuffa, LLC or other respective owners.