Tito Ortiz (15-5) — who was rumored to be fighting in Manchester, England, at UFC 70 on April 21 — could now find himself on the UFC 71 undercard against either Rashad Evans (10-0) or Keith Jardine (12-2-1), according to Dave Meltzer at WrestlingObserver.com.
UFC 71 is tentatively scheduled for May 26 in Las Vegas, Nevada, according to MMAWeekly.com, and could feature the highly anticipated light heavyweight showdown between champion Chuck Liddell (20-3) and one of only three men to beat him, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (26-6).
This would be the first fight for Ortiz since losing to Liddell at UFC 66 on December 30 via third-round technical knockout. And, I guess it makes sense because the UFC 70: "Nations Collide" fight card wouldn't be allowed to be that deep now could it?
Evans and Jardine started 2007 out right, defeating Sean Salmon (9-2) and Forrest Griffin (13-4), respectively, in sensational fashion earlier this year. The training partners and former contestants on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) both pose different challenges for Ortiz.
With his strong wrestling background, athleticism and improved stand up, Evans would be the biggest threat to handing Ortiz back-to-back losses since Randy Couture (14-8) and Liddell from 2003-2004.
At 31 years old, "The Dean of Mean" Jardine is beginning to evolve into a more complete — and very dangerous — fighter. He is a tough opponent who wears down his opponents with a relentless and aggressive approach standing and on the ground.
Make no mistake: Evans and Jardine are no Ken Shamrock. If either of these guys get in the cage with Ortiz anything can happen.
Personally, the Evans match up seems more appealing. I think he's got what it takes — both physically and mentally — to challenge for the 205-pound belt later this year. And going through Ortiz would be a big step in that direction (it would also be a great fight).
Here is the developing UFC 71 fight card, according to MMAWeekly.com:
Chuck Liddell vs. Quinton Jackson
Chris Leben vs. Kalib Starnes [this fight may be on a UFC TV event in May instead]
Eric Schafer vs. Sean Salmon
Karo Parisyan vs. TBA
Thanks once again to "Nate" who passed along the information from the latest Observer newsletter.