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Maggie Hendricks

'The Ultimate Fighter' recap: Ortiz and Liddell nearly come to blows


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No time is wasted in this week's episode of "The Ultimate Fighter," with Kyle Noke and Kris McCray's weigh-ins starting the show. The two are good friends and not excited about fighting each other, but according to Dana White, "There are no friends in the UFC."

Tito Ortiz comes into his camp saying that he has to get surgery on his neck. In addition to fighting Forrest Griffin with a "cracked skull," Ortiz's neck has been giving him problems for years. He'll find out soon if he can fight Chuck Liddell on schedule.*

Kyle Noke (Team Liddell) vs. Kris McCray (Team Ortiz)

Round 1: McCray starts with a quick takedown, but can't keep Noke down for long. McCray uses another slick takedown to get Noke to the ground. Noke gets out, McCray takes him back down again. Noke tries for a choke, but McCray gets out. Noke tries for a kimura, but McCray rolls out.

Round 2: As he did in the last round, McCray starts out with a big takedown of Noke. Though Noke gets up momentarily, McCray does a better job of keeping Noke down and inflicting damage from the top. Noke is able to get up, and he brings McCray back down to the ground. Noke takes McCray's back, but can't sink in a good rear naked choke. McCray reverses position, and tries to pound on Noke.

Dana White tells Chandella Powell, on hand for Octagon Girl duties, "That's it," when she prepares to walk around the cage with the card for the third round. Not so fast, Dana! We are going to a third round.

Round 3: I bet you can't guess what McCray starts with ... that's right! A takedown. Most of the round is McCray smothering Noke with body punches. Noke has a short-lived armbar attempt, but other than that, not much happens until Steve Mazzagatti stands them up with about a minute yet, but McCray continues to control the grappling-dominated bout.

All three judges scored the final round for McCray, who is now a semifinalist.

At the house, Liddell lets his feelings be known on Tito's neck problems and the potential of Ortiz withdrawing from their bout.* Those feelings? "[Expletive] him! He better [expletive] [expletive] fight me. If I've had to [expletive] put up with [expletive] him for [expletive] weeks, he better [expletive] fight me. [Expletive]. [Expletive]."

Seth Baczynski (Team Ortiz) vs. Brad Tavares (Team Liddell)

Round 1: Each fighter throws a leg kck before Tavares throws a combination of punches. Baczynski shoots in for a takedown, and after a few seconds of clinching, he gets Tavares to the ground. Tavares turns to avoid Baczynski's strikes, and Baczynski takes advantage, taking Tavares' back. He holds there for a while, landing blows and keeping Tavares on the ground. He finally sinks in a rear naked choke, but Tavares gets out and reverses position, taking control of the bout. Tavares pounds hammer fists on Baczynski. Baczynski gets out, setting up a wild scramble.

Tavares slips after throwing a knee. When he's down, Baczynski throws an inadvertent but illegal soccer kick with his foot landing squarely on Tavares' face, knocking him out for a second as the round ended. Tavares scrambles to his feet and staggers to his corner as Baczynski, realizing he made a mistake, says, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" Tavares answers, "What for?" Oh geez.

Tavares doesn't remember the kick. The fight doctor checks out Tavares before calling the end of the fight. Tavares is the winner.

Baczynski again apologizes to Tavares, Liddell and John Hackleman. His coach doesn't take the loss quite so graciously. Ortiz claims that Tavares was hit in the chest, but a kick in the chest doesn't knock a guy out like that. Really, Tito?

Ortiz's coaches don't help the situation. They yell, "You got one gift. You don't need two," referring to Rich Attonito's DQ win over Kyacey Uscola. After Herb Dean calls the win by "what was clearly an illegal strike," Ortiz throws a water bottle.

Attonito takes umbrage to his win being called a gift, and talks smack at Tito and his team. Tito, being the calm, cool and collected guy that he is, starts screaming at Attonito, pissing off Liddell in the process. Most of the people in the gym get between the two to avoid a fight. Hey guys! Save it for your fi- oh, wait. That's not happening.

Speaking of, after the hubbub, White takes Liddell into his office and tells him that Ortiz has pulled out of the fight. "I'm going to go punch him," says Liddell. And scene.

*The show was previously filmed. We all know now at this point that Ortiz withdrew from the bout, and that Liddell will face Rich Franklin at UFC 115.

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