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Nate Marquardt vs. Chael Sonnen Will Be for Title Shot

A middleweight title shot will be on the line for Saturday's Nate Marquardt and Chael Sonnen co-main event fight at UFC 109 in Las Vegas.

UFC president Dana White confirmed the fight as a title eliminator at the UFC 109 press conference Thursday. The news came as a shock to Marquardt, but according to White, it was the plan all along.

"We always had it in mind," White said. "These guys are two of the top five in the world. Depending on how you look at it -- they deserve it. And Nate's been waiting a while for it."

The winner of Saturday's fight will meet the winner between the Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort fight at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi.

Marquardt (29-8-2) has challenged Silva once before at UFC 73 in July 2007, coming up short by first-round TKO. He won four of his next five and the one loss was a split decision where he was deducted points for illegal blows.

Sonnen (23-10-1) entered the UFC last February as the uncrowned middleweight WEC champ and lost to Demian Maia by triangle choke. Sonnen bounced back with convincing decisions against Dan Miller and Yushin Okami.