Former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz (15-5-1) will face Dan Henderson (22-6) -- not Rashad Evans -- at UFC 78 on November 17 in Newark, N.J., according to a TAGG Radio report today.
UFCmania.com calls to Ortiz to confirm the report were not immediately answered at the time of this write up.
UFC President Dana White stated Ortiz and Evans would rematch immediately after fighting to a disappointing draw at UFC 73: "Stacked" on July 7. However, the situation could have changed since UFC 78 is now without a main event because of the Sean Sherk steroid appeal.
"The Muscle Shark" was expected to defend his 155-pound title against BJ Penn at the Prudential Arena but his appeal before the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) will not be heard until October 31. "The Prodigy" is now booked to fight either Sherk or Joe Stevenson (for the vacant lightweight strap) at UFC 79 in December.
While Ortiz-Evans is a nice match up, it perhaps does not have the punch to headline a show. Adding Henderson into the mix, however, would provide a much-needed lift for a rumored card that is solid but lacks high-profile names.
And often names -- not great fights -- put more butts in seats.
"The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" has not had a convincing win over a top opponent since his return to the Octagon in 2006. He destroyed an old Ken Shamrock (twice), eked out a split decision with Forrest Griffin, lost to Chuck Liddell and went to a three-round draw with Evans.
A win over a fighter the caliber of Henderson would certainly quiet all the cynics.
Henderson just dropped a hard-fought five round unanimous decision to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 75: "Champion vs. Champion" earlier this month.
There was some discussion that the UFC wanted "Dangerous" Dan to join the middlweight fray (he is the current PRIDE FC 183-pound champion); however, he seems reluctant to make that commitment because he feels comfortable at light heavyweight.
Stick around for more updates to see if this pans out.
For the latest rumored UFC 78 fight card click here.
UPDATE: Potential rumor killer at MMANews.com.