Nate Marquardt's career has been on what many would deem a rollercoaster ride over the past couple of years. After being dominated by Chael Sonnen in a Middleweight title eliminator all the way back in 2010,he found two wins over Rousimar Palhares and Dan Miller.
Marquardt later made the decision to move down to Welterweight. He was scheduled to face off with Rick Story after original opponent Anthony "Rumble" Johnson withdrew, but was found to have lied about his consumption of TRT, thus 'banning' him from the UFC 'forever.'
But he signed on with Zuffa's ill-fated stepchild Strikeforce, and quickly became that promotion's Welterweight champion with a true highlight reel knockout of Tyron Woodley in the fourth round. He was favored to retain that title at Strikeforce's final show ever, but was upset by Tarec Saffiedine, who put Marquardt through an absolutely brutal clinic of leg kicks and striking.
Now, the man who was banned forever makes his return to the UFC quite soon, and the promotional brass are wasting no time in throwing him to the wolves. Set to face off with top five Welterweight Jake "The Juggernaut" Ellenberger, Marquardt has his hands full in a big way. The fight was made after news came last night that Rory MacDonald was forced to withdraw out of his co-main event tilt versus Carlos Condit, leaving Ellenberger's opponent Johny Hendricks as the man to step in against Condit.
Both fighters have legitimate KO power, with areas of expertise in different realms of the ground game. Ellenberger utilizes his wrestling pedigree to power opponents to the mat, while Marquardt is well-known for his black belt level BJJ skills. The bout will be an interesting one on paper, as both fighters are strikers who look to finish bouts early and often.
For Ellenberger, the news comes as another disappointing setback. Set to become one of the division's power players after defeating Diego Sanchez in a war at the very first Fuel TV event last February, Ellenberger saw his stock plummet when he lost via KO to Martin Kampmann after rocking him early in the first round. Then slated for a bout with Josh Koscheck at the canceled UFC 151, Koscheck pulled out and was replaced by the much lesser-known Jay Hieron.
Ellenberger got the decision win, and had a golden opportunity to prove he belongs at the top with a face-off against Hendricks. A win there would have silenced all the critics about Jake Ellenberger's game, but will a win over Marquardt provide the same boost? I highly doubt that. The Juggernaut will have to play his cards right to get the victory at UFC 158 and then once again hope for a top-level opponent to stay healthy enough to fight him.
Marquardt, however, could turn his recent loss around with a win, and beating a top five opponent like Ellenberger could somehow have him back in the mix at 170.