In 1998, two of the greatest amateur wrestlers in the United States – Randy “The Natural” Couture and Mark “The Hammer” Coleman – were scheduled to meet in a relatively new battleground called the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The mixed martial arts bout at UFC 17 never happened due to injury but on Saturday, Feb. 6, nearly 12 years and six UFC championships later, Couture and Coleman finally square off at UFC 109: Relentless. The colossal meeting of Hall of Fame fighters in the making for more than a decade will be live on pay-per-view from the Mandalay Bay Events Center and presented by Bud Light.
In the co-main event, the red-hot welterweight contender Josh Koscheck will get a chance to avenge his lone knockout loss against Brazil’s Paulo Thiago, along with pivotal showdowns featuring Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Brandon Vera, Nate Marquardt vs. Chael Sonnen and Matt Serra vs. Frank Trigg.
“Couture vs. Coleman is one of those dream matchups that fans have always talked about,” said UFC President Dana White. “When you consider these are two of the greatest-ever wrestlers turned mixed martial artists, and it’s the first time that two guys who have already earned their way into the UFC Hall of Fame are fighting each other, this is not only an intriguing matchup, but a historic one.”
Tickets for UFC 109: Relentless, priced at $600, $400, $300, $200, $100 and $50, not including applicable service charges, go on sale tomorrow at 10 a.m. at all Las Vegas Ticketmaster locations (select Smith’s Food and Drug Centers and Ritmo Latino). Ticket sales are limited to eight (8) per person. To charge by phone with a major credit card, call Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. Tickets also are available for purchase at www.UFC.com, www.mandalaybay.com or www.ticketmaster.com. UFC newsletter subscribers also can access a special Internet pre-sale by registering for the UFC newsletter through www.UFC.com.
UFC 109: Relentless will be available live on pay-per-view on iN DEMAND, DIRECTV, DISH Network, TVN, BellTV, Shaw Communications and Viewer’s Choice Canada for a suggested retail price of $44.95 ($49.95/Canada) for standard definition or high-definition broadcasts (where available).
A five-time UFC champion who has reached the top of the mountain in both the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions, the ageless Randy Couture (fighting out of Las Vegas) is coming off a unanimous decision victory over light heavyweight contender Brandon Vera at UFC 105 in November. With 14 career UFC wins over the likes of Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Vitor Belfort, Pedro Rizzo and Tim Sylvia, “The Natural” is used to facing the best of the best. On February 6, he will finally get his opportunity to take on “The Hammer.”
“Mark Coleman is another classic matchup for me,” said Couture. “Like (Antonio Rodrigo) Nogueira, this is a fight that was supposed to happen a long time ago and is finally now a reality. Mark has a tremendous wrestling pedigree and his collegiate and freestyle background has taken him a long way in MMA. I look forward to testing my skills and fighting spirit against another UFC Hall of Fame fighter.”
The Godfather of Ground and Pound, Mark Coleman (fighting out of Columbus, Ohio) used that strategy to earn the first UFC heavyweight championship and a spot in the UFC Hall of Fame. A former NCAA Division I National Champion wrestler at Ohio State who is now fighting at light heavyweight, “The Hammer” returned to the Octagon in 2009 after a successful career in Japan. This included a memorable battle against Mauricio Rua and a victory over Stephan Bonnar. On February 6, he will begin his quest for a title at 205 pounds as he takes on fellow legend Couture.
Coleman said, “This is by far the biggest fight of my career. I have nothing but respect both inside and outside of the Octagon for Randy Couture. He is one of the greatest in the history of MMA. It’s an honor to accept this challenge to fight him and a win here would be one of the top highlights of my career. I expect to win and will prepare for a war. I will do all I can to make this an exciting fight for the fans.”
A fighter willing to fight anyone at anytime, Josh Koscheck (fighting out of Fresno, Calif.) is coming off one of the biggest wins of his career as he made a statement to the welterweight division by submitting rising star Anthony Johnson at UFC 106. Nevertheless, the 32-year-old former NCAA Division I National Champion wrestler is not about to rest on his laurels; instead he will look for a dose of redemption against Paulo Thiago as he continues on his road to a world title shot.
Koscheck stated, “I am training super hard right now. This is a big fight for me because I lost the first time when I fought him last February and I’m fighting him again this February. This time I am going to be the one knocking him out. I promise you this fight will not go out of the first round.”
A decorated grappler with knockout power, 28-year-old Paulo Thiago (fighting out of Brasilia, Brazil) introduced his name to the international scene with his first-round TKO of Koscheck in February 2009. Following a memorable battle with Jon Fitch and a victory over Jacob Volkmann last year, Thiago looks to kick off his 2010 campaign in style by repeating his spectacular win over “Kos.”
Thiago claimed, “Josh Koscheck is a great fighter who I had a lot of respect for before our first fight and who I still respect today. But, I am still as hungry as I was the first time we fought and I will do everything I can to repeat my victory on February 6.”
A former PRIDE star that kicked the door open in his UFC debut, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (fighting out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) needed less than two minutes to knock out dangerous contender Luiz Cane at UFC 106 in November. The twin brother of former PRIDE and UFC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, the 33-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and former Pan-Am Games boxing medalist is deadly wherever the fight goes, a fact he plans to introduce to Brandon Vera at UFC 109.
Like Nogueira, Vera (fighting out of San Diego, Calif.) is a feared striker and ground fighter who enjoys nothing better than a good old fashioned battle in the Octagon. Winner of three UFC bouts since moving to the 205-pound weight class, and fresh off a hard-fought three round scrap with Couture, “The Truth” is more focused and determined than ever to destroy any opposition in his path, beginning with Rogerio Nogueira.
One of the leading contenders for a shot at the middleweight title, Nate Marquardt (fighting out of Denver, Colo.) has left little doubt that he is ready for a rematch with Anderson Silva after decisive knockouts over Martin Kampmann, Wilson Gouveia and Demian Maia. However, there remains one obstacle in the path of former King of Pancrase’s way and at UFC 109 he gets the chance to remove fellow contender Chael Sonnen from his path.
A former U.S. Olympic alternate and two-time NCAA National Champion, Chael Sonnen (fighting out of West Linn, Ore.) has used his strong wrestling pedigree to secure 25 wins in his mixed martial arts career. With wins over Yushin Okami, Dan Miller and previously unbeaten WEC champion Paulo Filho, the time has come for Sonnen to make his case for a shot at the 185-pound crown.
Former welterweight champion Matt Serra (fighting out of East Meadow, N.Y.) emerged as one of the UFC’s true superstars with his stirring first-round knockout of Georges St-Pierre in 2007. However, Serra – the first American to earn a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under the legendary Renzo Gracie – was no overnight sensation having already faced the likes of BJ Penn, Din Thomas, Chris Lytle and Yves Edwards over the course of his career. On February 6, fresh from an exciting “Fight of The Night” with Matt Hughes in May 2008, Serra returns to the Octagon.
World-class wrestler and perennial contender Frank Trigg (fighting out of Las Vegas) is a veteran of six UFC fights including two classic battles with then champion Hughes and two sensational wins against Renato Verissimo and Dennis Hallman. In February, the 37-year-old – who has won four of his last five bouts – looks to begin another UFC winning streak.
For more information or current UFC fight news, visit www.UFC.com, UK.UFC.com, GERMANY.UFC.com, UFCJapan.jp or UFCEspanol.com. All bouts are live and subject to change.