Friday, February 2, 2007

UFC star cancels Jacksonville visit

Liddell not allowed to appear, but martial arts show will go on.

A mixed martial arts event set for tonight at the Prime Osborn Convention Center will go on as scheduled - but without heavily advertised "host" Chuck Liddell.

Liddell, a star of the Ultimate Fighting Championship circuit and, by far, the sport's reigning attraction, had to cancel his Jacksonville trip Thursday because he is under contract with the UFC and did not have permission to appear, the event's promoter said.

The UFC stepped in because the group did not want to be perceived as sanctioning the Jacksonville event - billed as the "Ultimate Warrior Challenge" - or even being connected with it, Ponte Vedra Beach-based promoter S. Marcello Foran said.

The UFC, which did not return phone calls Thursday seeking comment, also was concerned fans were misled by advertisements into thinking Liddell would fight here.

Liddell had volunteered to be an unpaid master of ceremonies at the nine-bout event and attend an after-party at a local nightclub until the UFC intervened after learning about it from a Wednesday article in The Times-Union.

"They're very, very touchy at the UFC,'' Foran said. "They're very protective of what they've built, and Chuck is the crown jewel. I basically have to do what they tell me to do."

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