This Saturday, Nate "The Great" Marquardt will look to come one step closer for the Middleweight Title, facing Yushin "Thunder" Okami at the main event of UFC 122 in Germany. Currently holding a professional Mixed Martial Arts record of 30-9-2, Marquardt defeated Rousimar Palhares in his last fight via TKO, at the Fight Night 22 event in Austin, Texas.
This will be a second time Nate Marquardt comes one step away from securing a title shot, as he lost a Unanimous Decision against Chael Sonnen earlier this year at UFC 109. Marquardt is currently 9-3 in the UFC, losing only to Thales Leites (Decision), Chael Sonnen (Decision) and Anderson Silva (TKO). In fact, Silva was the only man to ever TKO Marquardt. "The Great" lost only twice via Submission in his career, to Genki Sudo and Ricardo Almeida.
Here's what he had to say about his bout against Yushin Okami this weekend, which will also be his 40th professional MMA bout:
Last time we spoke it was before your fight against Rousimar Palhares. Are you happy with the way this fight went, in light of the controversy around it?
Yeah. I mean, mostly. I followed my gameplan well. I felt really good going into the fight and felt good in the fight. So yeah, I'm happy with that victory. Imena, first of all I didn't know he was trying to talk to the referee. I defended the ankle lock, turned around and attacked him. I think it would be an unprofessional behavior if I hit him in the groin or something. I've seen him doing something, but I had no clue he was talking to the referee, so in my eyes I did the right thing and it's to attack him.
Your next fight is against Yushin Okami at UFC 122 this Saturday in Germany. What you think about him as a fighter, and what kind of gameplan do you prepare for him?
I think he's a very tough guy. He's tall and strong. He has a good base, good takedown defense, good jab, good distance and he's also solid on the ground. He's a very tough guy, in my opinion. I'm not going to give away my gameplan. But in general, I'll say that he's a very patient fighter; he always tries to control the pace in the fight and to control the distance. I'll try to bring him out of his comfort zone.
Do you see any weaknesses in his game?
Yes, for sure. There are certain spots where he doesn't do as well, where he picks damage. Like I said, he likes to fight the specific way. He likes to control the distance and the pace during the fight. The guys who give it back to him, take him out of his comfort zone and pressure him during the fight, are the guys he's having problems against.
Actually, in all his recent fights Yushin Okami looked to take the fight to the ground and finish it from there. Do you think that he will even try to stand with you?
That's an interesting question. Yes, he used his wrestling quite a lot recently, but I also think that he improved his striking quite well. I'm ready for both styles, because I can't really know what he's preparing for me. He might try and test himself against me in stand up, but eventually I think that once I start to get better of him on my feet, he will look to take the fight to the ground. But again, my goal is to be as well-rounded as possible, so I'm training in all aspects of MMA for this fight.
Can you talk about the current atmosphere at Greg Jackson's camp? You are fighting Yushin Okami, GSP is going to defend his title against Koscheck very soon, Jon Jones will also fight soon… it looks like you guys have a very important fights coming up?
Yeah, and Brendan Schaub just fought Gabriel Gonzaga. The atmosphere is currently great. And that's to be expected, because I think we are all a top class fighters and a true professional Mixed Martial Artists. That's what we are doing – fighting the best.
You're currently in the same position as you were in a fight against Chael Sonnen. Is there any special motivation to secure a title shot this time?
Since I started fighting, my dream was always to become a UFC Champion. And I've been close to this two times, I think. When I lost to Chael, it really reminded me how bad I want to be a UFC Middleweight Champion. I have a new focus, and a new desire to be a Champion.
Last time I asked you the same question about Anderson Silva, but now I want to ask the same about you. What's the biggest difference between Nate Marquardt who fought Anderson Silva at UFC 73, and the one who will look to secure a title shot against Yushin Okami on November 13th?
The biggest difference is that I'm coming with a different mentality. When I fought Silva I fought conservatively. I was fighting just to avoid the defeat. I did enough just to get the W to my record. Now when I'm going into my fights, I'm looking to finish. I'm looking for an opening to finish a fight. And when you go for a finish, you go 100%.
Would you like to pass any message to Yushin? I'm not sure he'll understand, but we'll try to translate it to Japanese.
I guess I'll say to him: Gambate! It means "Go for it!" Yushin is a great fighter, so I think everyone who tunes in on November 13th is going to see a great fight.