A matchup between former light heavyweight champions and rival The Ultimate Fighter 11 coaches Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, expected to headline UFC 115, is off, and Liddell is instead likely to face Rich Franklin at the June 12 event in Vancouver, not a rumored UFC Fight Night 22 card on April 17.
Rumors of the matchup first surfaced last night on The Underground and Fighters Only today reported the bout would headline UFN 22, but MMAjunkie has since confirmed the fight is in the works UFC 115.
While the reason for Ortiz’s withdrawal is unconfirmed, sources told MMAjunkie that he was unable to complete filming for TUF 11 and Franklin was his likely replacement.
The news follows a series of messages posted by Ortiz on Twitter late last month during the final week of filming for TUF 11.
“If things couldn’t get worse. They just did! F***!!!!,” wrote Ortiz. “Jenna and I are fine. I guess business is business … Everybody will see it all! … Thinking that life couldn’t get any harder? It just did! Another challenge that god has given me! WOW.”
Ortiz has since posted a number of messages thanking Dana White and the UFC for bringing him back, indicating he’s still on good terms with the promotion, though his future plans remain unclear.
Liddell (21-7) briefly retired after suffering a first-round TKO to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in his most-recent fight last April, his fourth loss in his last five fights, but the 40-year-old UFC hall of famer has opted to return for at least one more fight.
Franklin (26-5), a former UFC middleweight champion, is 2-2 since moving up from 185-pounds in 2008, bouncing back from a split decision to Dan Henderson with a win over Wanderlei Silva last June before suffering a first-round knockout to Vitor Belfort in September. “Ace” underwent abdomen surgery in January that was expected to keep him out until May.
With Liddell-Franklin not in the works for UFC Fight Night 22, it is not known if the UFC will continue with plans for the event, which was expected to air on Spike TV opposite Strikeforce’s CBS-televised “Nashville” event.
Post originally published on 3/13/2010 at 10:50am ET. Updated at 1:53pm and 6:15pm.
Pictured: Chuck Liddell