by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
As “The Ultimate Fighter: Team Liddell vs. Team Ortiz” winds down, the controversy on the show heats up.
During the series’ filming, news reports revealed that Tito Ortiz had to withdraw from a third bout with fellow Season 11 coach Chuck Liddell and would be replaced at UFC 115 in Vancouver by another former TUF coach, Rich Franklin.
Wednesday night’s Episode 10 cleared up the drama surrounding that situation. An injury to Ortiz’s neck forced him to back out of the Liddell bout and, eventually, to have surgery performed.
UFC president Dana White exiled Ortiz from the show following that decision and not only inserted Franklin into the fight with Liddell, but also brought him in to take over Ortiz’s spot as coach for the remainder of the season.
Episode 10 closed with a teaser about one of Franklin’s assistant coaches being a former UFC champion, but didn’t reveal the former UFC middleweight champion’s supporting coaches.
The UFC, oddly enough, in its recap of the episode on Wednesday night, revealed Franklin’s assistants. Joining him for the final episodes are former UFC light heavyweight champion and inaugural “Ultimate Fighter” winner Forrest Griffin, as well as lightweight contenders Gray Maynard and Tyson Griffin, according to UFC.com.
The series is down to its final two weeks with semi-final bouts pitting Court McGee against Brad Tavares in one bracket and Kris McCray vs. Josh Bryant in the other. Franklin and his assistants will lead McCray, the only remaining member from Team Ortiz, into his semi-final bout.
Franklin squares off with Liddell on June 12 at UFC 115 in Vancouver.