The MMA rumor mill can’t seem to get enough of former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell, as it appears his next opponent may have changed once again.
A source close to the organization informed Heavy.com Tuesday afternoon that Tito Ortiz and Rich Franklin are no longer possibilities to face the “The Iceman” at UFC 115.
Instead, Liddell and Randy Couture will meet for a fourth time and serve as the opening act for the blockbuster heavyweight title unification bout between Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin at UFC 116 on July 3rd.
Liddell vs. Ortiz III was scheduled to headline UFC 115 on June 12th, however it was reported earlier this month that the scrap was called off after Ortiz had fallen ill.
Immediately after the story broke, it was reported that Franklin, the UFC’s former middleweight champ, had agreed to step-in to face Liddell in Ortiz’s absence.
Through all the chaos, UFC president Dana White has not budged on the Liddell/Ortiz trilogy. In fact, he tried to dispel rumors earlier this month when he posted the following on his Twitter:
“We are doing [Randy] Couture vs. [Rich] Franklin, not Chuck [Liddell]”
Couture holds an 18-10 pro mark and was last seen submitting Mark Coleman with a rear-naked choke at UFC 109. Although his record isn’t spectacular, he is the UFC’s only athlete to capture both the heavyweight and 205-pound titles.
Liddell owns a convincing 21-7 professional record, however has dropped four of his last fight bouts – three of which were in knockout fashion.
“The Natural” earned a third round TKO victory in their first meeting at UFC 43 back in June of 2003, however Liddell stormed back to post consecutive knockout wins at UFC 52 in 2005, and then again at UFC 57 in early 2006.
UFC 116 will be jumping off inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.