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Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell named "TUF 11" coaches


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LAS VEGAS ? His pleas for the job apparently worked; Tito Ortiz will serve as a coach on the upcoming 11th season of "The Ultimate Fighter."

UFC officials confirmed the assignment during Saturday's The Ultimate Fighter 10 Finale at The Pearl at the Palms Casino Resort.

The other part of the surprise? Ortiz will coach against Chuck Liddell, not Forrest Griffin, on the upcoming season of the reality series, and the coaches will meet in a season-ending fight.

After dropping a close split decision to Griffin last month in the UFC 106 main event, Ortiz campaigned for the two to be coaches on "TUF 11." UFC officials, though, chose Liddell instead.

"TUF 11" begins taping in January and debuts on Spike TV in April. The show is expected to feature middleweight fighters.

Ortiz and Liddell, who have fought twice before (Liddell is 2-0 with two knockout wins), will both coach for the second time on "TUF." Ortiz coached opposite Frank Shamrock on "TUF 3," and Liddell coached against Randy Couture on the debut season in 2005.

"The world knows there is no love lost between Tito and Chuck," UFC president Dana White stated. "These two guys will do whatever it takes to beat each other. Whether it's fighting or checkers, Chuck wants to beat Tito, and Tito wants to beat Chuck. ... On season 11 of 'The Ultimate Fighter,' we'll see which legend can score the upper hand when it comes to coaching the next batch of rising stars."

As MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) reported last month, Ortiz wanted the coaching gig to set up a season-ending trilogy fight with Griffin.

"It'd be awesome," Ortiz said. "We'd break records with that one."

At the time, UFC president Dana White said the coaching setup and rubber match was a possibility but far from a definite. In fact, Ortiz, who sat out of competition from May 2008 until last month due to a back injury and contract holdout, only recently patched up a once-hostile relationship with White to return to the organization. With Ortiz a draw but unlikely to contend for a title anytime soon, the "TUF 10" coaching assignment may be the best use of his time in early 2010. However, he'll have pressure to jazz up a series that's become increasingly stale in recent seasons.

Liddell, who entered a semi-retirement earlier this year, can certainly do the same. The fan favorite was exposed to a new audience as he competed on the recent season of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," and though White said Liddell would be entering retirement following a knockout loss to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in April, "The Iceman" never officially declared he was walking away from the sport. In fact, it soon became apparent that Liddell wanted one more run in the sport.

"I am excited for the opportunity to coach on 'The Ultimate Fighter,' especially since I get a chance to beat Tito again," Liddell stated. "This is a perfect chance for me to help young fighters grow and it's a chance for me to get another win against Tito."

MMA Junkie

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