A day after the world’s biggest MMA organization announced former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell would headline UFC 115 against Rich Franklin, instead of facing Tito Ortiz, two of the three people behind the conspiracy addressed the public for the first time in an official press release.
To nobody’s surprise, UFC president Dana White was the biggest culprit behind the controversy. The brash promoter repeatedly denied that the trilogy between Liddell and Ortiz was off. In fact, White confirmed with MMAFighting just last week the rivals would “definitely” be the main event at UFC 115.
“Fans and media have been asking me for weeks what is happening on The Ultimate Fighter Season 11, saying things like ‘is Tito off the show, is Chuck fighting Rich,'” White said on UFC.com. “I’m officially announcing that Chuck Liddell will fight Rich Franklin at UFC 115. I wish I could tell you why, but everyone’s just going to have to watch The Ultimate Fighter Season 11 on Spike TV.
“What I can say is that these are two UFC legends, and they give everything they have in every second of a fight. Both of these guys are looking to get back to the top of the light heavyweight division. Liddell and Franklin at 205 pounds is going to be a war, and I can’t wait to do our first UFC event ever in Vancouver.”
Liddell recently confirmed his “tune-up fight” against Ortiz on a TUF 11 conference call by stating, “From what I understand, [Ortiz] is signed to fight, and he’s still going to actually have to show up and get the beating he’s supposed to get.”
Given the confidentiality agreement in his TUF contract, it’s understandable why Liddell couldn’t comment too much. However, here is what Liddell said of his new date and what he intended to do to him.
“I’m ready for this fight. I’m in the best shape of my life, and I can’t wait to get back in the Octagon,” said Liddell. “I can’t tell the fans what happens in the Ultimate Fighter 11, you have to watch the show, but I’ll tell you how this is gonna end. I’m knocking Rich out.”
Franklin, who is heavily rumored/confirmed to have replaced an injured/ill Ortiz as a coach on the show, said he’s anxious to get back to competing in the light heavyweight division after suffering a devastating knockout loss to Vitor Belfort in a 195-pound catchweight bout at UFC 103.
“Chuck is a gamer,” Franklin said. “He is a professional – take Randy for example. He and Randy are friends, but he didn’t have a problem fighting Randy and punching him in the head. So he sure won’t have a problem punching me in the head. I’m excited about fighting Chuck. I’m going to give everything I have, and I look forward to giving fans a great fight in Vancouver.”
UFC 115 takes place inside GM Place on June 12th.