by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
“The Ultimate Fighter 11: Team Liddell vs. Team Ortiz” ninth episode showcased two more quarterfinal bouts, the coaches animosity coming to a head over a controversial fight ending and Ortiz’ withdrawal from a third match with Chuck Liddell.
Wasting no time, the weigh-in of Team Liddell’s Kyle Noke and Team Ortiz’ Kris McCray, who are training partners outside the bubble of the fighter house, opened the show with each tipping the scale at 185 pounds.
UFC president Dana White said about making the match up, “When I called the McCray-Noke fight, you could tell how bummed out those guys were and couldn’t believe it. But guess what, one of the things I want these guys to learn early; there are no friends in the UFC.”
Coach Ortiz enters the UFC Training Center complaining about his neck and his doctor wanting to do surgery.
“Between C-6 and C-7 (vertebrae locations on his spine) my disc is pressing on my spinal cord. I get numbness down my legs, down my arms, headaches everyday. I don’t sleep well,” explained Ortiz. “They said I might have to get surgery.”
“I’ve been through one surgery before, and if it happens again, it happens again,” commented the disappointed 35-year old fighter.
“I still have another five years of competition left. If I keep chancing myself and fighting injured I’m going to hurt myself worse. And I’ve done that. I’ve done that for the last six years, and I’m not going to make the same mistake that I made before. I ain’t going to let Chuck beat me because I wasn’t 100 percent. No possible way. No way.”
We already knew that Liddell is fighting Rich Franklin in the main event at UFC 115 in Vancouver on June 12, but we didn’t know the official reason Ortiz pulled out of the trilogy with Liddell.
KYLE NOKE VS. KRIS MCCRAY
Noke wanting to strike but McCray had different ideas and took the fight immediately to the ground. After nearly a minute on his back, Noke got back to his feet but was still pressed against the cage, but was able to rotate out and take center cage.
McCray was able to secure another takedown following an exchange and clinch. Noke again made his way back standing without taking any damage half way through the first round.
Off a McCray takedown attempt, Noke attempted a guillotine choke but didn’t have the position to lock it down, so the Team Ortiz fighter was able to escape and transition the fight back to the standing position.
Noke briefly attempted a Kimura and used it to gain dominate position and land a few hammer fists before McCray rolled out and obtained top position where he put up little offense while Noke utilized short elbows and punches from the bottom. MMAWeekly.com score the round 10-9 for McCray.
“He’s actually done more damage from the bottom than Kris has from the top by far,” commented White as the round came to a close.
In the second round Noke was able to stuff McCray’s first takedown attempt, but McCray quickly elevated his opponent with a double leg and slammed him to the canvas. Noke quickly stood back up only to be slammed again.
Team Liddell’s first pick squirmed his way back to his feet and got a takedown of his own where he immediately look McCray’s back with just over two minutes remaining.
Noke worked for a rear naked choke, landing punches in the process, but McCray was able to spin into him and end up in Noke’s guard where he landed short elbows, forearm strikes and punches to the body. MMAWeekly.com scored the round 10-9 for McCray.
Team Ortiz thought they had the win.
Dana White said “It’s over,” making his way the Octagon ready to declare McCray the winner, but the judges tallied their scorecards and scored it a draw.
“The judges have declared it a draw. We’re going to a third round,” announced White as the fighters readied for another five minutes.
“You’ve got to be kidding me right now, man,” said Ortiz, throwing his water bottle in disgust as he left the cage. “Wow. Welcome to Team Ortiz.”
McCray wasted no time getting the fight to the ground within the first 30 seconds of the final round.
Noke spent the next three minutes beneath McCray unable to escape. The referee stood the fight up with a minute remaining, but McCray pushed the Australian against the cage and the rest of the round played out in the clinch with McCray landing knees to Noke’s legs. MMAWeekly.com score the round 10-9 for McCray.
Kris McCray was awarded the Unanimous Decision.
Brad Tavares and Seth Baczynski each made weight for their quarterfinal match up, but before the bout Liddell was told of Ortiz’ neck situation on a visit to the fighter house and was livid that he wouldn’t get the opportunity to punch Tito again.
“If I’ve got to put up with him for six weeks, he better let me go in there and fight him,” said Liddell.
BRAD TAVARES VS. SETH BACZYNSKI
They exchanged low kicks and flurries to open the round before Baczynski clinched and pressed the Team Liddell member against the cage where he got a trip takedown. He postured up and launched a series of punches and Tavares rolled giving up his back.
Baczynski remained on his back with a body lock applied, peppering Tavares with punches and looking to sink in a rear naked choke. Baczysnski was in that position for two and a half minutes before Tavares was able to shake him off and end up in the Team Ortiz member’s guard.
Tavares tried to implement some old fashioned ground and pound but Baczysnski quickly applied a triangle choke forcing his younger opponent to slam him to get free.
Tavares unleashed punches and hammer fists, but Baczysnski scrambled to his feet with four seconds remaining in the round. Tavares missed with a knee and slipped and with one second left on the clock, Baczysnski landed a soccer kick to the head of his downed opponent.
Tavares’ body went limp briefly before he staggered to his feet not knowing what happened. After wobbling across the Octagon and sitting down on the canvas, Tavares asked, “What did he hit me with?”
A doctor was brought in to check on Tavares and when referee Herb Dean pulled him aside to ask his opinion, the doctor commented, “Well, he doesn’t even know what he got hit with, so I’m going to give him a second but we’re going to have to decide very quickly.”
The doctor returned to Tavares and determined him unable to continue, ruling Brad Tavares the winner by disqualification.
“You see that kick land and he just drops to the canvas,” said Dana White. “Arms down, right on his face like he’s out.”
“Immediately after hitting Brad, I wasn’t even worried about the fight really,” said Baczysnski. “I was just worried about him.”
You see an official or producer or someone on the set go up to Ortiz and say the kick didn’t hit Tavares in the head, although it clearly did.
“One of the doctors came over to me and said that he kicked him in the chest underneath the armpit,” commented Coach Ortiz. “What can you do?”
Team Ortiz striking coach Saul Soliz began protesting the outcome, saying, “It hit him in the armpit under the chest. No way! Come on! One’s enough. I mean you got one gift you don’t need two,” referencing Kyacey Uscola’s disqualification loss to Rich Attonito for illegal knees.
Attonito immediately took offense to the comment.
“What one gift (expletitve)? I got kneed in the head twice you fat (expletive),” said Attonito to Soliz.
Herb Dean announced the official disqualification and Ortiz went ballistic, throwing his water bottle.
“If they’ve got to win this way that’s great.” said Ortiz as he stormed away from the Octagon calling for his team to follow. “It’s the only way they can (expletitve) win. You’ve got to be kidding me right now.”
Team Liddell’s Joe Henle tells Ortiz to, “Get out of the corner. It’s already called. Quit disrespecting him.”
Ortiz aggressively began walking toward Henle, yelling, “How can you (expletive) disrespect somebody when you kick them in the chest.? Are you kidding me right now?”
At this moment, chaos ensues.
“He started walking back and walking at one of my guys and screaming at one of my guys and that ain’t going to (expletive) happen,” said Liddell about the incident that followed.
Liddell went after Ortiz and had to be restrained.
Ortiz tells Liddell to have White show him the tape and then he can come and apologize to him.
Liddell comments in the confessional, “Let me soccer kick him in the face and then tell him to continue afterwards and see what happens.”
White approaches Liddell after the fight and controversy that followed and pulled the former titleholder in a separate room for a private meeting and informed Liddell that Ortiz pulled out of their scheduled third bout.
“There’s something I’ve been waiting to tell you. I guess now is a better time than ever. Tito pulled out of the fight,” said White.
Liddell was livid and immediately stands up as if he was going to break his cell phone stating, “I’m going to go punch him.”
Next week the Liddell and Ortiz drama continues, the final quarterfinal bout takes place and the semifinal match ups are announced.