Nate Marquardt returned to the middleweight division and did so with a statement. He defeated James Te Huna in the first round via armbar in a dominant performance, and silenced the crowd with a performance reminiscent of the old Nate Marquardt. A former middleweight contender, Marquardt lost his last three in the welterweight division, but has his first win in four with a great performance.
‘The Great’ lived up to his moniker with his underdog win, and was able to open Te Huna up, worked well in the clinch and landed some beautiful judo throws. Overall, Marquardt had perhaps the best performance of the card and, sporting a beard Ariel Helwani would enjoy, put himself back into the middleweight mix in style.
Te Huna has now lost his third in a row, with all three coming in the first round. That sort of streak could spell the end of the UFC stint, though his marketability in Australasia and his new weight class could work in Te Huna’s favour. Marquardt has now got 11 wins inside the Octagon, and is all-but-certain to continue as a middleweight after a torrid time at 170lbs.
Here is how the fight played out.
Both fighters really need a win – I’ve probably said that at least three times now, but oh well. Te Huna drops to middleweight for the first time, while Marquardt returns to the division where he earned a UFC title shot. March 2011 was the last time Marquardt fought at 185lbs, a weight class in which he earned 10 UFC wins – the second most in the promotion’s history.
What an incredible entrance for Te Huna, who comes with the Haka before him. That was brilliant. Te Huna embracing his first UFC appearance in his home country.
Round 1 – Marquardt with a stiff counter. A switch kick. Nice left kick, and another, from Marquardt. Teep from Marquardt. Nice overhand right. A huge knee drops Te Huna! Te Huna goes for the takedown but beautiful counter from Marquardt, who is now in the guard of Te Huna. Nice ground and pound, short elbows. Marquardt looks brilliant. Another elbow. And another. That one opened him up. Te Huna has a mouse under his left eye now. Marquardt into half guard. Wow this is a statement. He misses an elbow and Te Huna uses that to explode to his feet. They’re in the clinch, Marquardt with an elbow and knee but Te Huna turns it around and lands some huge uppercuts. Body shot. Marquardt turns it around and lands a knee, double underhooks for the American. What a trip, straight into mount. That was beautiful from Marquardt. Nate keeping busy on top and trying to work on a submission it seems. Short blows to the cut of Te Huna. He’s really trying to explode but gives up his back in the process. Marquardt trying to go for an armbar. He has it! He taps! Marquardt with a huge win! That was utterly brilliant. Te Huna is upset by that and so are the crowd, but you have to appreciate such a performance.
Result: Marquardt via submission (armbar) at 4:32 in first round.
I can’t put into words how impressed I was with that performance. That is the old Nate Marquardt, and I think he can become a real contender at middleweight.
Marquardt seems so relieved, and admits 170lbs didn’t work out for him. He is so well rounded and he’s humbled by that.
Here are the results for the card thus far. The full play-by-play coverage can be checked out on Cage Pages here.
Nate Marquardt def. James Te Huna via submission (armbar) at 3:32 in first round.
Jared Rosholt def. Soa Palelei via unanimous decision (30-27 x3).
Charles Oliveira def. Hatsu Hioki via submission (modified guillotine choke) at 4:32 in second round.
Robert Whittaker def. Mike Rhodes via unanimous decision (30-27 x3).
Jake Matthews def. Dashon Johnson via submission (triangle choke) at 3:16 in third round.
Richie Vaculik def. Roldan Sangcha-an via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2).
Vik Grujic def. Chris Indich via TKO (punches) at 4:55 in third round.
Neil Magny def. Rodrigo de Lima via TKO (punches) at 2:32 in second round.
Dan Hooker def. Ian Entwistle via TKO (elbows) at 3:34 in first round.
Gian Villante def. Sean O’Connell via split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29).