A 4-fight venture into the welterweight division did not prove successful for Nate Marquardt (33-13-2). Yes, he captured the Strikeforce welterweight championship with a knockout win over Tyron Woodley, but followed that up with 3 straight losses in the UFC—and back-to-back knockout losses to Jake Ellenberger and Hector Lombard.
Making the move back to middleweight, the weight class Marquardt had fought in for his entire career up until 2011, and found the most success, becoming one of the top-10 fighters in the division and a title challenger in 2007. Marquardt successfully returned by submitting home town favourite James Te Huna (16-8) with an armbar in the first round of the main event at UFC Fight Night 43 in Auckland, New Zealand.
Nate Marquardt looked quicker than his opponent, a former light heavyweight, out there, and was able to perform to the best of his abilities at middleweight. As we have seen in the past, when Nate Marquardt is at his best, he’s considered one of the top fighters in the world. But when his focus turned to the weight cut to 170, his training and performance in the cage suffered.
“I think that was a big part of it,” Marquardt said about moving back up to middleweight. “so my training was suffering because of the diet and I wasn’t getting the right training. I wasn’t able to recover from my workouts, and then I definitely think the cut–the week of the fight–was affecting me in the fight. I believe this is where I’m supposed to be at 185.”
“Honestly I just went out and fought as hard as I could, that’s all you can do. When I fight my best that’s all I do. I don’t really focus on anything other than fighting hard. I’m glad I had the preparation that I did with my teammates and my octaves because James [Te Huna] came and he was a game guy. I feel like my confidence has been built back up leading up to this fight.”
Marquardt’s opponent, James Te Huna had one of the most memorable entrances in UFC history, coming out to the traditional war dance of the Māori people, the ‘Haka’ as a way to honor his heritage and to intimidate his opponent at the same time. Marquardt, however was not intimidated by the gesture, tuning it out while in the cage.
“Honestly that kind of stuff I just block it out and try to stay focus. I’ve done a lot of stare downs in my career, same thing, during the staredown I’m just in my own head telling myself what I need to do and that’s it,” Marquardt said.
Now 11-4 inside the UFC as a middleweight, it took the two losses at 170 to finally knock some sense into Nate Marquardt and made him decide to move back up to his previous weight class and ending the welterweight experiment.
“I really feel that’s where I was guided. I don’t think I was meant to fight at 170,” Marquardt said. “I had early success fighting Tyron Woodley, once I had that success it took a lot to kind of knock some sense into me, but it finally worked in my last fight.”