By Thomas Gerbasi
CAUTION: SPOILERS INCLUDED – With Tito Ortiz forced to pull out of his fight with opposing coach Chuck Liddell due to injury, matters on The Ultimate Fighter: Team Liddell vs Team Ortiz have been thrown into disarray. What will happen now on the Spike TV reality series?
Needless to say, Liddell is livid over Ortiz’ withdrawal from the fight, telling UFC President Dana White, “I told you he was gonna do this from Day One. That’s why I didn’t want to do this with him.”
White tells Liddell that he’s still going to fight at the end of the show, but ‘The Iceman’ is inconsolable.
Liddell is the last person on Ortiz’ mind right now though, as he deals with concerns about his health and his fighter Jamie Yager’s upcoming quarterfinal bout against Team Liddell’s Josh Bryant.
As expected, Yager attempts to work his standup game, but after a missed kick, Bryant closes the distance and gets his foe against the cage. Yager is able to use knees to get loose, and he gets back to working from long range. Bryant can’t find a way to get inside for much of the round though, until a looping punch late puts Yager on his back just before the bell.
A fight breaks out in the second round, and both men have their moments. Bryant is able to get Yager to the mat in the second minute, and the two continue to scrap until they get back to their feet. Yager pushes the action and lands with some good shots, but Bryant isn’t going anywhere, and he keeps swinging. With a little over a minute to go, the fight goes back to the mat and Bryant gets top position, where he lands with strikes on his trapped foe until the bell.
After two rounds of action, the judges declared the fight a draw, sending it to a third round, but the exhausted Yager doesn’t get off his stool, awarding the fight to Bryant via TKO.
“Just like Tito,” yelled a jubilant Liddell after the bout.
On the other side, Ortiz is as angry as Liddell is happy. “You can teach someone how to fight, but you can’t teach them to have heart,” said Ortiz. “Yager quit. Nothing more than that.”
“I didn’t want to let everybody down,” said Yager as he was carted off to the hospital for precautionary reasons, “but I felt going out there I was only gonna hurt myself.”
After the bout, if Ortiz thought he was already feeling bad, it was about to get worse, as White told him that he was going to have to see a specialist in Los Angeles right away for a second opinion regarding his injury. The only problem was that Ortiz was going to have to leave the show as well.
“It’s very challenging,” said Ortiz. “I had everything taken away from me in the blink of an eye.”
White was tasked with telling the members of Team Ortiz what happened and that their new coach (and Liddell’s opponent) was on the way. The squad was upset at the latest development, but were still supportive of their leader, and later that night, Ortiz showed up at the house to talk to his team about leaving.
It was an emotional gathering, but the next day, it was back to business and the semifinal fight announcements, which are as follows:
Kris McCray vs Josh Bryant
Brad Tavares vs Court McGee
That’s three Team Liddell fighters against one from Team Ortiz. So who will be the new coaches who will lead McCray into battle?
Former UFC middleweight champion and TUF2 coach Rich Franklin (who will face Liddell at UFC 115 on June 12th) and assistant coaches Forrest Griffin, Gray Maynard, and Tyson Griffin.
Next week, it’s off to the semifinals.
Here’s how the teams look:
Team Ortiz / Franklin
• Nick Ring 1-0 – Eliminated due to injury
• Kyacey Uscola – 0-2 - Eliminated on episode four by Rich Attonito. Defeated in Wild Card fight by Kris McCray
• Kris McCray – 2-1 - Eliminated on episode five by Josh Bryant. Defeated Kyacey Uscola in Wild Card fight. Defeated Noke in quarterfinals (episode nine).
• Jamie Yager 1-1 – Eliminated in quarterfinals by Josh Bryant (episode ten).
• James Hammortree 0-2 – Eliminated on episode three by Brad Tavares. Brought back on episode eight after injury to Ring. Eliminated in quarterfinals (episode eight) by Court McGee.
• Clayton McKinney – Eliminated on episode two by Kyle Noke
• Chris Camozzi – Eliminated from competition due to injury
• Seth Baczynski – 1-1 - Brought back on episode three after injury to Camozzi – Defeated in quarterfinals by Tavares (episode nine).
• Kyle Noke 1-1 – Eliminated in quarterfinals (episode nine) by Kris McCray
• Rich Attonito 1-0 – Eliminated due to injury
• Charles Blanchard – Eliminated on episode four by Jamie Yager
• Josh Bryant 2-0
• Brad Tavares 2-0 - Defeated Baczynski in quarterfinals (episode nine).
• Court McGee – 1-1 - Eliminated on episode six by Nick Ring; returning to replace Attonito. Defeated Hammortree in quarterfinals (episode eight).
• Joseph Henle – Eliminated on episode seven by Seth Baczynski
For weekly recaps of The Ultimate Fighter, as well as fighter profiles, stay tuned to UFC.com.