(Sorry, Chuck. If you had your own clothing line, maybe Dana would let you replace the Ultimate Fighter logo with your own brand name. But you don’t, and now you look like an asshole. Photo courtesy of twitter.com/spike_tv.)
The eleventh season of The Ultimate Fighter kicks off on March 31st. Here’s some stuff we’ve learned about it lately…
— According to recent reports by FiveOuncesofPain and Bloody Elbow, the middleweight castmembers selected for the show include KOTC/Bodog vet Kyacey Uscola (18-15), Australian EliteXC vet Kyle Noke (16-4-1; won a unanimous decision over Uscola in September), Victor O’Donnell (8-1; seven wins by submission), Travis Lutter BJJ student Cleburn Walker (8-4), Kris McCray (5-0; all wins by first-round stoppage, three in under a minute), American Top Team product Charles Blanchard (7-2), Warren Thompson (5-0; all wins by stoppage), and Charlie Lynch (6-0; all wins by stoppage). The Boston Herald also reports that Greg Rebello (9-2) and Woody Weatherby (7-3) will be part of the cast.
— Chuck Liddell‘s assistant coaches will be his longtime trainer John Hackleman, highly regarded boxing coach Howard Davis Jr., jiu-jitsu ace Scott Epstein, and Strikeforce middleweight champ Jake Shields. Tito Ortiz‘s assistant coaches will be his longtime trainer Saul Soliz, WEC lightweight Rob McCullough, BJJ ringer Cleber Luciano, and, as promised, a public-relations specialist to be named later.
— Liddell and Ortiz will reportedly have their third meeting at UFC 115 (June 12th, Vancouver), and Ortiz may already be trying to get inside Chuck’s much-smaller head. During a recent TUF 11 media day, Ortiz credited Liddell for winning his battle with alcoholism, with help from Dana White:
“I think [Liddell] had a problem,” Ortiz said. “A lot of people go through addiction. I think his deal was he was an alcoholic. He loved to party…When you have all the money in the world and you can do what you want, no one tells you, ‘No.’…Thank God that Dana (White) gave him an intervention, and he’s sober now. He’s been sober since November, and he looks like a different person. It’s awesome. I’m proud of him – really proud of him…”
“I’m proud he’s found sobriety. A lot of fighters, and a lot of people in general, don’t do that. They fall off the face of the earth, and sometimes they’ll find them in a hotel, dead, or behind a wheel, dead. Thank God Chuck isn’t one of those guys. Thank God he found sobriety…When my friends see him out at night, I’ll tell them to buy him a drink,” laughed Ortiz.
Even if Liddell’s well-documented love of partying actually did drift into straight-up alcoholism, it’s probably not something that the Iceman wants Tito discussing in a press conference; let the games begin. For what it’s worth, Randy Couture expressed a similar sentiment in a recent interview with Steve Cofield: “Chuck can do anything he sets his mind to. I think there were some lifestyle issues that were more the issue with Chuck. It’s not that he doesn’t have the ability to fight anymore. He’s trying to clean up some of that extracurricular stuff and focus more on what he really wants to do.”