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Monday, April 5, 2010

There have been rumors Rich Franklin replaces Tito Ortiz on The Ultimate Fighter Season 11...this pic from the TUF 11 set seems to confirm this rumor with Franklin's picture up on the wall alongside Chuck Liddell.Rich Franklin vs. Chuck Liddell in the works for UFC 115, not rumored April show (Updated)

There have been rumors Rich Franklin replaces Tito Ortiz on The Ultimate Fighter Season 11...this pic from the TUF 11 set seems to confirm this rumor with Franklin's picture up on the wall alongside Chuck Liddell.has learned from sources close to the promotion that the two have verbally agreed to face each other in June at UFC 115, though contracts have yet to be finalized.

The new matchup replaces a planned third meeting between Liddell and Tito Ortiz that had been expected for the promotion's first trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and may have been arranged as a result of Franklin's unexpected involvement in "TUF 11."

The Franklin vs. Liddell matchup was first reported by Fighters Only magazine, though the U.K.-based publication pinned the fight to a rumored April 17 UFC Fight Night card that now seems increasingly unlikely to occur.

Liddell and Ortiz were announced this past December as opposing coaches on the soon-to-debut "The Ultimate Fighter 11" series. At that time, the UFC also announced plans for the legendary figures to meet for a third time at the conclusion of the series.

It was later learned that the matchup was intended to headline the as-yet-unannounced UFC 115 card in June.

With Ortiz no longer in the plans, the former champion's next move is currently unknown.

In February, with "The Ultimate Fighter 11" still filming in Las Vegas, the "Hunting Beach Bad Boy" posted a series of cryptic messages on his Twitter account the led to many to speculate something had run afoul with his role as a coach on the Spike TV series.

"If things couldn't get worse, they just did!" Ortiz stated on Feb. 24. "[Expletive]! "I want to thank all my fans for your support!

"I guess business is business."

Three days later, additional Ortiz comments led to further speculation.

"Thanks for all the support," Ortiz stated. "Thinking that life couldn't get any harder? It just did! Another challenge that god has given me! Wow.

"Many things that challenge us in lives will make us stronger. One thing I can say is don't ever quit. I'm strong because of my family and fans!"

MMAjunkie.com has been told from additional sources that Ortiz was not able to complete the filming of "The Ultimate Fighter 11," though the reasoning behind his absence wasn't immediately known.

Those same sources suggested that Franklin was possibly brought in as a replacement coach to finish out the season's filming, and "Ace" now meets Liddell as an opposing "TUF" coach.

The original announcement of a third matchup between Liddell and Ortiz was met with little fanfare. Many MMA fans felt the matchup was unnecessary with the "Iceman" already owning a pair of wins over Ortiz – a 2004 second-round knockout and a 2006 third-round TKO.

UFC president Dana White has publicly denied that any changes are taking place through multiple posts on his Twitter account.

"Not true!" White stated. "We are doing (Randy) Couture vs. (Rich) Franklin, not Chuck.

"Nothing happened to Tito. Tito and I are cool."

MMAjunkie.com has been informed by additional sources close to the promotion that while a Couture vs. Franklin fight has been discussed, there are numerous obstacles that could potentially prevent the matchup from taking place, and bout agreements have not been distributed.

For more on "The Ultimate Fighter 11," which debuts March 31 following Spike TV's broadcast of UFC Fight Night 21,

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