LAS VEGAS – It looks like Chuck (The Iceman) Liddell is coming back to Canada to take on Tito (The Huntington Beach Bad Boy) Ortiz.
“I’m trying to do it in Vancouver,” UFC president Dana White told reporters Thursday. UFC 115 is scheduled for June 12 at GM Place, the UFC’s first foray in Canada outside of Montreal.
White also confirmed Kimbo Slice will take on Matt Mitrione at UFC 113 in Montreal on May 8.
Liddell and Ortiz are currently serving as rival coaches on Season 11 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality TV show which is in production in Las Vegas.
“It’s heating up,” White said of the atmosphere on the show. “The thing is, and it’s never going to change no matter what happens, (is)Chuck hates Tito. He hates him, can’t stand him, doesn’t like him.”
The two former light-heavyweight champions have met twice before with Liddell winning both times at UFC 47 and UFC 66.
Ortiz fanned the flames with a recent interview in which he accused Liddell of excessive drinking, necessitating an “intervention” by White.
“Chuck wasn’t too happy about that,” said White, who denied ever having an intervention
“Tito says some crazy stuff sometimes,” he added.
Asked about Liddell’s lifestyle, he said: “I think Chuck Liddell is a rich guy with a lot of time on his hands.”
White, however, said Liddell gave up drinking in November to focus on his comeback.
Liddell was beaten in Montreal last time he fought, knocked out by Mauricio (Shogun) Rua at UFC 97 last April.
TORONTO-BOUND – White continues to speak confidently about bringing the UFC to Toronto.
“Toronto’s going to happen,” he said. “We’re closer and closer every day.”
Ontario still has to sanction the sport of mixed martial arts.
White also made a point of talking up Canada as an MMA market.
“Canada is the craziest thing that I have ever seen and I never expected it,” he said.
BROCK’S SCHEDULE – White says heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar could make his comeback as early as July if all goes well.
That would depend on the health of Lesnar and that of Shane Carwin and Frank Mir, who are meeting in March at UFC 11 to decide who gets the next title shot. If the winner of Carwin-Mir is hurt, Lesnar could face either Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira or Cain Velasquez, who meet later this month in Australia at UFC 110.
The UFC traditionally holds a card in Las Vegas around July 4. White laughed when asked if June in Vancouver was a possible date for Lesnar, who made a point of dissing Canadian healthcare recently.
Lesnar has not fought since July because of a serious digestive problem.
Lesnar is the UFC’s top pay-per-view draw. Asked who is No. 2, White pointed to welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, middleweight title-holder Anderson Silva, Randy Couture, Forrest Griffin and B.J. Penn.
SONNEN SPEAKS OUT – Middleweight contender Chael Sonnen has been speaking out prior to his co-main event with Nate (The Great) Marquardt at UFC 109, leaving White shaking his head.
“A lot of the stuff he said is a little insane and made no sense,” said White.
Sonnen has shown nothing but respect for Marquardt but has made no secret about how Silva, the 185-pound champion, rubs him the wrong way. Sonnen also said game plans really don’t mean much.
“Tell Randy Couture there’s no such thing as a game plan,” said White. “Randy Couture’s won most of his fights coming off having incredible game plans.”
White also dismissed Sonnen’s contention that Silva speaks English backstage but not to reporters.
“That’s the dumbest thing, said White. “Pretty much everything he said sounded like my YouTube video rant (in which he took a reporter to task in an expletive-filled tirade). Crazy and made no sense.”
Sonnen is no dummy, however. He is running for the Oregon house of representatives and is a full-time realtor when not fighting.
WHITE ON WALKER – White was unimpressed by the widespread coverage of 47-year-old Herschel Walker’s debut in Strikeforce.
“He’s taken care of himself, he’s a great athlete, he’s a smart guy .. but do you want me to take him seriously in this sport? I can’t. I can’t. It’s impossible.”
NOTES – Couture’s eighth film in six years is due out this summer and the veteran fighter says he plans to do more. Coming to cinemas soon is “The Expendables,” which stars Sylvester Stallone. Couture, who is taking meetings next week to look at new projects, expects the new film to “change that landscape for me quite a bit. It’s a huge action flick. I’ve got a great role and I’m very excited about it.” …. A source confirms the 28-man cast of Season 11 of “The Ultimate Fighter” includes a Canadian. … White says China, South Korea and India are the three countries the UFC wants to take a live show to next. He notes India has 300 million males aged 18 to 34, the UFC’s key demographic. “So we love India,” he said. White also wants to hold a show in Beijing. … UFC 108 drew 420,000 pay-per-view buys on its first showing, said White. The projection for UFC 109 is 385,000. … White says he likes Nick Diaz and says the Strikeforce welterweight champion would probably be back in the UFC if he “would play the game.” Asked what that meant, White said: “You have to follow certain rules and guidelines. The last time Nick Diaz was in the UFC he got into a fist fight in the hospital with the guy he fought. You can’t do that kind of stuff.”