LAS VEGAS – Randy Couture has held the Ultimate Fighting Championship's heavyweight title three times and its light heavyweight title twice.
After a dominant submission victory over Mark Coleman in a battle of Hall of Fame fighters on Saturday in the main event of UFC 109 at Mandalay Bay, Couture may be nearing yet another light heavyweight title shot.
He dominated Coleman with his boxing in the first round, punched his way to a takedown in the second round and then finished Coleman at 1:09 with a rear naked choke.
"I feel I'm improving each and every time I get out here," said Couture, who is 46. "This is my third fight in seven months."
Coleman, who said, "The guy is tough, real tough," never was in the fight and took a beating from start to finish. Couture (18-10) landed a great uppercut in Round 1 and then followed it with a knee that badly hurt Coleman.
"I was a little slow tonight," said Coleman (16-10).
Champion Lyoto Machida and challenger Mauricio "Shogun" Rua are headed for a rematch for the 205-pound belt on May 8 at UFC 113 in Montreal. Couture could get a shot at the winner of that fight.
He was impressive in all aspects and won his second fight in a row after leaving the heavyweight division and moving back to light heavyweight. He defeated Brandon Vera at UFC 105 in November.
In the co-main event, Chael Sonnen dominated Nate Marquardt and earned a shot at the UFC middleweight title with an impressive unanimous decision victory. Marquardt went off as a 5-1 favorite.
Sonnen's wrestling was the difference in the fight. He repeatedly took Marquardt down and pounded him with elbows. Marquardt fought back hard, tried for several guillotines and cut Sonnen badly in the second round with an elbow from the bottom.
But Sonnen survived and won all three rounds on all three judges' scorecards to earn a shot against the winner of the title fight at UFC 112 between Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort.
"I don't want to be an also-ran," said Sonnen, whose last two wins, over Yushin Okami and Marquardt, were the most impressive of his career. "I'm here to be the king of the mountain or I'll move on and do something else. I think I can beat every man God ever made."
Former welterweight champion Matt Serra got back on track after a controversial defeat last year to Matt Hughes by scoring an impressive first-round knockout of tough veteran Frank Trigg.
Serra landed a counter right hand to Trigg's cheek that essentially ended the fight. Trigg went down and was out, but Serra managed to land three hard shots, at least one too many, before referee Josh Rosenthal jumped in to stop the fight at 2:23 of the first round.
"The power comes from being stocky," said the 5-foot-6 Serra, who won the welterweight title from Georges St. Pierre in 2007 in a similar manner.
Trigg is a wrestler and Serra was concerned about that, but he said he felt good about trading with Trigg. Trigg was willing to throw hands and Serra took advantage.
"Frank is such a stud wrestler and he's got a vicious ground-and-pound," Serra said. "I believe in my standup. It's not pretty, but when I land it, it hurts. If it got hairy, I was expecting him to shoot. No disrespect, but when he hit me, I didn't feel it."
Demian Maia won a lackluster victory over Dan Miller, winning by scores of 29-28, 30-27 and 29-28. Both are excellent jiu-jitsu fighters, but the fight was basically a standup battle.
Maia did just enough to pull out the slow-paced battle with few major shots landing.
"I wanted to show the people that I can also fight standing up," Maia said. "It was my choice to fight standup the first two rounds."
Paulo Thiago did next to nothing in a slow first round, but he exploded in the second to submit Mike Swick with a D'Arce choke.
Thiago landed a counter right and followed with a crackling left hook that floored Swick. Thiago spent a few seconds maneuvering for position and slapped on the choke at 1:54 of the second.