Joe Riggs, the former challenger for the UFC Middleweight title held by Matt Hughes, was withdrawn from the title shot after failing to make weight for the match three times this weekend.
For title fights, the Nevada State Athletic Commission requires that fighters make exact weight, which is 170 pounds in this case. Disappointing UFC officials, Riggs varied between 1 and 2.5 pounds overweight, forcing the title match to become a normal three round fight, affirming Hughes’ premonition that he would not lose the title any time soon.
The other fights for UFC 56 remain in tact for the PPV Saturday night. Jeremy Horn, the Chuck Liddell adversary who lost to him recently, puts his 85-14-6 record to the test against the 11-2 South African wrestler Trevor Prangley (11-2). Two of UFC’s most up-and-coming fighters, Georges St. Pierre (10-1) and Sean Sherk (28-1-1) will compete in what is considered to put the winner in contention for a middleweight championship shot against Hughes.
In the remainder of the card, Hughes (39-4) is favored over Riggs (26-6) and Gabriel Gonzaga (4-1) over Kevin Jordan (7-3).
In an interesting main event, the star of the first Ultimate Fighter show, Nathan Quarry, debuts in highest profile match yet. The 14-1 superstar faces Rich Franklin (20-1), who established himself this year after defeating Ken Franklin and coaching the second season of the Ultimate Fighter on SpikeTV. Though Franklin is favored, Quarry may be in the same spot as fellow TUF alumnus Diego Sanchez, who surprised his detractors when he defeated Nick Diaz recently.
In preliminary matches on tomorrow’s card Thiago Alves (13-3) faces Ansar Chalangov (7-0); Nick Thompson (22-8) faces Keith Wisniewski (19-5); and Sam Hoger (6-2), of Ultimate Fighter I fame, faces the 4-1 Jeff Newton.
In other UFC news, Carlos Newton and Pat Miletich will coach season three of the Ultimate Fighter series on SpikeTV.