With Mark Coleman out of his anticipated light heavyweight showdown with Tito Ortiz at UFC 106 due to a second-degree tear in his MCL knee ligament, the question now is quite simply: Who’s up next for Tito?
“Hammer” or no “Hammer”, the show must go on.
It goes without saying that UFC matchmaker Joe Silva is currently hard at work trying to negotiate a suitable replacement for Coleman.
I wouldn’t expect for Tito to appear on any card other than UFC 106. Outside of the main event between Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin, the card doesn’t really offer much up for the mainstream, and you really want to hit the fans with everything you have during the holiday season for obvious financial reasons.
While Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Luis Arthur Cane is going to be a fight myself and many of you guys will be looking forward to, the general public aren’t nearly as familiar with the two as say, Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin.
Come along as I take a quick look at some of the potential replacement opponents for “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” on November 21. Some of the choices may be a little more realistic than others, but all are worth taking a look at.
Forrest Griffin: These are two of the most marketable fighters in the sport. The enormous financial potential of a rematch between these two, alongside a heavyweight championship bout involving the biggest draw in the sport would very likely surpass the numbers turned in from UFC 100.
Rashad Evans: Although Rashad is lined up to meet Thiago Silva at UFC 108, a more marketable opponent like Tito would make more sense for the remaining coach of the most successful season of The Ultimate Fighter in the show’s history. While the prospect of watching Ortiz and Evans have a Real Pro Wrestling match at UFC 106 gives me knots in my stomach, it’s a fight the UFC would be able to sell like crazy. The fact that the pair fought to a draw in their previous match-up makes the potential bout that much juicier for the casual fan.
Kimbo Slice: You’ve heard the saying before, “If it doesn’t make dollars, it doesn’t make sense”. Well, a fight between Tito and Kimbo at 205 pounds, or even a catch weight of 210, makes all the sense in the world. Could you imagine the posters with Brock, Carwin, Tito and Kimbo? It would be pure marketing gold.
Dan Henderson: Although Dan is currently still entrenched in brutal contract negotiations, the time to give in to Hendo’s wishes has never been better than now for the UFC. Do what it takes to sign Henderson now, and you’ll be financially reimbursed beyond expectations in November. With Anderson Silva lined up to face Vitor Belfort next for the middleweight crown, a move to light heavyweight for Henderson would be inevitable should he be secured.
Rich Franklin: Another big money fight between two of the biggest draws in the business. I know neither man will be looking to face anyone less than a superstar in their next bout, so a match-up between would seem to make sense to both men.
Jon Jones: Even though Jones is currently slated to face off with Matt Hamill during the TUF 10 Finale on December 5, I’m sure strings could be pulled if it made sense for them to be pulled, but it doesn’t. Jones is way too high of a risk fight for Tito just coming back in to the game. While most of us diehards know all about “Bones” and his potential, the masses generally don’t. Although this bout could be used as a springboard for Jones in the future, the UFC didn’t bring Tito back for him to be anyone’s stepping stone, and they absolutely don’t want to risk their most promising prospect at 205 pounds suffering a defeat at this point. No way this fight happens.
Matt Hamill: Not going to happen. See the third season of The Ultimate Fighter if this requires further explanation.
Brian Stann: Stann would do it in a heart beat, and for good reason. I’ll admit that Stann would be a much sexier choice than someone like Vladimir Matyushenko, and a fight Tito could possibly win, but Ortiz didn’t come back to fight in anything but big fights. Even though Tito would very likely have the answer for Stann, the potential of a knockout loss would outweigh the positives in this one for both the UFC, and Ortiz.
Vladimir Matyushenko: This is a fight that Tito could win but there’s no way I would book it. First off, Vladimir is a great fighter, but imagine the guy that shows up to watch Brock and Tito.
I can hear it already:
PPV Party Attendee #1: Who’s the guy that Tito is fighting?
PPV Party Attendee #2: I think he’s some Russian guy….Vladi…. Vlad something or another (laughs).
PPV Party Attendee #1: Dude, Tito’s gonna smash that ******* ******!
PPV Party Attendee #2: Hell yeah bro!
Then they fight and it’s utterly one of the worst fights in Octagon history. Tito just holding “The Janitor” down and grinding his way to a three round decision victory, as the crowd, starving to see Brock and Shane face off, boo the action for the final two frames.
This one makes little sense other than to give Ortiz a nice, safe welcome back to the UFC.
Randy Couture: This is a longshot due to the fact that Randy is already set to headline UFC 105 against Brandon Vera, and I find it extremely unlikely that the UFC would yank Couture from a main event where his participation is vital. However, he definitely deserves mentioning due to the fact that the fight would sell like popcorn in a movie theater.
Keith Jardine: “The Dean of Mean” is a possibility because it’s a fight that Tito would think that he could definitely win. Appearances can be deceiving, especially in Jardine’s case, but this match-up seems just as likely as any of the others previously mentioned.
If the ball was in my court I’d book the fight with Forest Griffin and laugh all the way to the bank.