The Weekly Wrap: March 13 - March 19

Top Story

By Jack Encarnacao Mar 22, 2010
The Weekly Wrap walks readers through the last seven days in MMA, recapping and putting into context the week's top story, important news and notable quotes.

Top Story

The show may already be in the can, but a series of reports this week indicated that the eleventh season of "The Ultimate Fighter," which premieres in two weeks on Spike TV, will contain a shake-up that might result in a mid-course coaching change and a recasting of one of the UFC's biggest fights of the summer.

Though the situation is unlikely to be completely clear before the series airs, several reports indicated Tito Ortiz drops out of coaching his team opposing Chuck Liddell's on the show, and is replaced by Rich Franklin. The switch paired with reports that a Liddell-Franklin fight would headline UFC 115 on June 12, the card that was expected to feature Liddell vs. Ortiz III.

Sherdog.com reported that the Liddell-Franklin bout has been verbally agreed to for the date though multiple sources. UFC President Dana White posted a message to Twitter saying the promotion is working on matching Couture with Franklin, a bout reported as a possibility shortly after Couture defeated Mark Coleman in February. UFC 115 is targeted for Vancouver, though the company has scouted locations in New Orleans and Miami as back-ups in the event local regulatory complications aren't untangled by then, according to The Wrestling Observer.

As for Ortiz, reports and speculation varied as to his absence. In an interview with SI.com, Ortiz denied his stint on TUF was cut short, though he sent out several Twitter messages last month that indicated he faced an unexpected complication while filming the show. Ortiz also told SI.com the fight with Liddell is still on “unless Chuck gets hurt.” All told, no fights were officially locked in this week for Liddell, Franklin, Couture or Ortiz.

Shortly after word began to spread of the Liddell-Franklin fight, Ortiz began Twittering about battling a nasty flu that required six bags of intravenous fluids and caused him to lose 15 pounds.

Fiveouncesofpain.com reported that Ortiz was suffering from a neck injury. Ortiz, who was on the shelf for 18 months recovering from invasive back surgery before returning against Forrest Griffin in November, spoke about issues with compressed vertebrae after the loss to Griffin.

Early in the week, the speculation was that the Liddell-Franklin fight was being targeted for an April 17 event that the UFC was looking to book to counter Strikeforce’s card that night on CBS. But reports emerged late in the week that the UFC had called off the idea for a Spike TV telecast that night, which was rumored to be staged in Nashville, Tenn., the same city as Strikeforce’s card. The Thursday deadline established by commission regulations for the UFC to book the date came and went.

The advertising for the Strikeforce card, which features three title fights, began this week on CBS during NCAA basketball tournament games. Bobby Lashley has been approached about fighting on the card but an opponent has not been agreed to, as Sherdog.com first reported last week. Lashley’s fight would top the preliminary card, but would be recorded for airing on CBS if one of the title fights ends quickly.
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