- Brett Okamoto, ESPN Staff Writer
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The next installment of the "UFC Undisputed" video game series could include a major addition to its fighter roster.
Former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Randy Couture recently told ESPN.com it's likely he'll be an available character in future versions of the THQ-manufactured game, after being a notable exception in its past two releases.
During a contract dispute with the UFC in 2008, Couture signed a deal with EA Sports to be featured in its mixed martial arts game, which was released in October. Couture, alongside Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko, appeared on the game's cover.
The contract with EA Sports further prevented him from appearing in the 2009 and 2010 version of "UFC Undisputed," even though he resumed fighting for the promotion before the games were released. With that deal now expired, according to Couture, he's available to make his debut in the THQ game.
“We’ve talked about me being in the video game this time around,” Couture said. “Obviously, all that stuff with EA Sports happened in a transition period, before I came back [to the UFC.]
“That deal is over now and the [THQ] game is getting ready to come out with a new version. Obviously, they’d still like to include me, me being a guy in their Hall of Fame. It’s certainly something we’re looking at trying to work out and I think it will probably happen.”
UFC president Dana White confirmed to ESPN.com via text message that discussions have taken place with Couture, however no official deal has been reached.
"We do not have a deal with Randy yet," White said.
An official release date has not been announced for the newest version of the game. It's expected the date will be in early 2012, despite previous editions being released in May.
Couture, 47, has announced his intent to retire from the sport following his upcoming fight this weekend against Lyoto Machida at UFC 129 in Toronto.
Although Couture has had his grievances with the UFC in the past, he said he's retiring under good terms with the promotion. News of his expected appearance in the video game testifies to that.
"I think both Zuffa [parent company of the UFC] and myself have come to a much stronger relationship," Couture said. "We have a better understanding of each other and they've left me alone to do my thing while I still comply with rules and regulations they set forth for other fighters."
20dAndrew R. Davis