Couture ‘in mix’ for title shot

The dominating performance of Randy Couture in the main event of UFC 109 on Saturday night might have been enough to earn the five-time Ultimate Fighting Championship champion another title shot.

It was enough to get the loser of the bout released from the organization.

“Tonight is probably Mark Coleman’s last fight in the UFC,” the company’s president, Dana White, said of the 45-year-old during the postfight news conference. “I just think he’ll have a hard time competing with the guys at the top level. Age is a factor with him.”

White confirmed via text message Monday that the UFC Hall of Famer will be dropped.

“He went in there and wasn’t able to do anything. Randy pretty much beat him everywhere,” White said on Saturday night. “It’s tough (for an athlete) to say it’s over and hang ’em up. It’s the toughest thing in the world, and I hate dealing with it. It sucks.”

Conversely, White said Couture was “in the mix” of the title hunt in the light heavyweight division. Lyoto Machida holds the belt and will defend it against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in May. The winner of a bout between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Rashad Evans the same month also will be in the conversation.

Coleman, who in his remarks in the cage immediately after the loss said he would return, was unavailable for comment after White’s statement.

Las Vegan Frank Trigg, who lost to Matt Serra on Saturday night, also will be released, according to White.

STILL TALKING — Chael Sonnen spent much of the time leading up to his fight on Saturday night verbally going after just about everyone in the UFC.

It didn’t stop after he upset Nate Marquardt to put himself in position to challenge for the middleweight title.

Sonnen likely next will fight the winner of the April 10 middleweight title bout between Vitor Belfort and champion Anderson Silva.

He said during the postfight news conference that he rather would fight Silva, whom he called an “easier opponent.”

Silva almost universally is considered among the world’s top three pound-for-pound fighters, but Sonnen says that is all just hype.

“This guy is no more real than the Loch Ness Monster,” Sonnen said. “And if he needs me to expose him, then I will.”

He says he looks forward to not only beating Silva in the cage but also in the prefight buildup. “It will be a verbal beatdown,” he said. “Anderson Silva will be in tears before it’s all over.”

GOING GLOBAL — The Middle East could be the site of the first international edition of the UFC’s reality show “The Ultimate Fighter,” White said late Saturday night.

“There are a thousand years of heat over there,” he said.

There are no concrete plans for an international version of the show, but White has been saying he would like to use it as a way to spread knowledge of the sport and as part of his continued efforts to build the brand globally.

The UFC will hold its first card in the Middle East on April 10 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The organization also recently sold a 10 percent stake to Flash Entertainment, a wholly owned subsidiary of the government of the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The show, which is filming its 11th season, always has been based in Las Vegas.

UFC 112 TO AIR LIVE — Many UFC events that take place outside the United States are delayed to air on pay per view in their usual 7 p.m. Saturday time slot.

The organization announced that UFC 112, which will take place on April 10 at an open air venue in Abu Dhabi, will be available for purchase live at 10 a.m. Saturday morning (PDT).

The card features title defenses by middleweight champion Anderson Silva and lightweight champ BJ Penn.

A replay of the broadcast also will be available in the normal 7 p.m. slot.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509.

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