Liddell selects Hackleman, Davis, Epstein, Shields as "The Ultimate Fighter 11" coaches
by John Morgan and Dann Stupp on Jan 25, 2010 at 5:30 pm ET
LAS VEGAS – Chuck Liddell has put together his coaching squad for the upcoming 11th season of "The Ultimate Fighter."
MMAjunkie.com (UFC blog for UFC news, UFC rumors, fighter interviews and event previews/recaps | MMAjunkie.com
) today confirmed at the "TUF 11" media day that his coaches include longtime trainer John Hackleman, former Olympic gold medalist boxer Howard Davis Jr., jiu-jitsu ace Scott Epstein, and Strikeforce champ Jake Shields.
"TUF 11" production began over the weekend, and the season debut is set for March 31 on Spike TV.
Liddell, who returns from an unofficial retirement to coach opposite Tito Ortiz on the show, is a "TUF" coach for the second time. He coached opposite fellow UFC legend Randy Couture during the show's groundbreaking first season in 2005.
MMAjunkie.com identified most of Liddell's "TUF 11" coaches in a report earlier this month. Olympic wrestling silver medalist Sammy Henson and rubber-guard guru Eddie Bravo were also candidates for the coaching squad.
None of Liddell's coaching selections is especially surprising – except perhaps Shields, one of the highest-ranked and most notable fighters not under contract to the UFC. The former EliteXC champ and current Strikeforce title-holder, though, faced no obstacles.
Liddell told MMAjunkie.com that he specifically asked UFC president Dana White about Shields, and the UFC boss said he has no problem with the fighter appearing on "TUF." Shields, of course, will use his time on the show to teach Team Liddell while also preparing for an April bout with recent UFC divorcee Dan Henderson.
Hackleman, founder of The Pit training camp in Arroyo Grande, Calif., has worked with Liddell since 1991. The school's profile earned a big boost when "The Iceman" had his legendary title run from 2005 to 2007. Hackleman, a dominant professional kickboxer in the 1980s who owns a 58-6 career record, has been involved in martial arts for more than 30 years and has a couple dozen pro boxing bouts under his belt.
Davis, who won his gold medal in 1976 (a week after his mother died), has turned his focus to training MMA fighters since he retired from his pro-boxing career. The 53-year-old is a staple at American Top Team (where he serves as striking coach) and has worked with many notables in the sport, including Liddell.
Epstein, a trainer at 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu who holds a brown belt under Bravo, has won numerous jiu-jitsu competitions and owns a 3-0 pro MMA record (with all wins coming via submission). He also appeared on an episode of "Tapout" on Versus.
Shields, widely regarded as a top-five or top-10 welterweight, has recently dabbled in the 185-pound division, where in 2009 he defeated Robbie Lawler and Jason "Mayhem" Miller (for the title) under the Strikeforce banner. He owns a 24-4-1 career record, a 13-fight win streak, and career victories over other notables such as Paul Daley, Nick Thompson, Carlos Condit, Yushin Okami, Mike Pyle and Toby Imada.