Sports Illustrated scribe Josh Gross recently had a conversation with UFC light heavyweight Tito Ortiz in which “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” sought to clear up the rumors that he has been forced out of a fight with Chuck Liddell.
Tito Ortiz is a fighter that always seems to attract drama but lately the rumors surrounding him have been more persistent than usual. Reports surfaced recently that Ortiz was not only forced out of his scheduled bout with rival Chuck Liddell but also that he had to vacate his position as a coach opposite Liddell on the current season of “The Ultimate Fighter” and was replaced in both positions by Rich Franklin. It has been speculated that Ortiz suffered some sort of injury, whether to his neck or shoulder, that forced him off of the show and out of the fight. It was also released and confirmed that Ortiz was recently hospitalized with influenza and that his wife had a miscarriage.
In the conversation, Gross asked Ortiz if he would be fighting Chuck Liddell as planned. Ortiz responded, “Yes, I am. Unless Chuck gets hurt.”
Ortiz also responded, quite succinctly, to the rumors that he was forced off of “The Ultimate Fighter”. “Nope,” he said.
UFC president Dana White was quick to shoot down the rumors as well; using his Twitter to tell fans that Ortiz was healthy and that he would not be replaced by Rich Franklin in his fight with Liddell; that Franklin would soon be fighting Randy Couture.
Today, Franklin seemed to confirm this news with the Boston Herald.
“It’s not signed yet, but we’ve been working Randy now for a while. We’ve talked June, then we talked August and now we’re talking June again. I think we’re having problems with Randy’s scheduling. So I really don’t know what the plan is at this point,” he said.
So with this latest round of rumors seeming to contradict the last wave, we are only left to speculate further until something is officially announced one way or another. One wonders if this could be another feint on the part of the UFC to drum up interest in this season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Recently, the UFC leaked rumors of their plans to counter-program a Nashville-based Strikeforce show. The plans were never actually made and it seems very likely that the UFC released the rumors to spook Strikeforce executives and to shake up their planning.