Fighting in a deep talent pool, it’s time for Nate Marquardt to sink or swim


Nate Marquardt, at 33 years old, has reached a crossroads in his lengthy MMA career. Set to face off against young prospect at UFC 158 this Saturday, that event could truly dictate how much gas the experienced fighter has left in the tank.

Not originally slated to fight on the card, his opportunity to once again prove himself in the UFC came when Rory MacDonald pulled out of his rematch with Carlos Condit, causing Ellenberger’s original opponent Johny Hendricks to step in against Condit. Marquardt, signed over from Strikeforce, could truly make waves in arguably the toughest division in the UFC.

But will that be the case? Marquardt fought hard at Middleweight after making his UFC debut in 2005. His efforts got him all the way to a title shot against Anderson Silva, but he was finished via TKO in the first round. After clawing back up the ladder, an early 2010 loss to Chael Sonnen left him in a sort of no man’s land.

That, coupled with a suggestion from friend and training partner Georges St-Pierre, prompted Marquardt to make the cut down to 170 and try his hand there. He was set to face off with Anthony Johnson in the summer of 2011, but injury forced ‘Rumble’ out. Marquardt’s next opponent was Rick Story, but that fight never came to be. The former King of Pancrase was found to have elevated testosterone levels due to undisclosed usage of TRT, and was thus ‘banned’ from the UFC.

Of course, he signed onto Strikeforce and immediately showed the flashes of brilliance that make him such an enigmatic fighter. Facing tough opposition in the form of talented wrestler Tyrone Woodley, Marquardt obtained the Strikeforce Welterweight title with an absolutely vicious flurry up against the cage. It appeared Marquardt was back with a statement victory. But that was apparently short-lived.

Marquardt fought Tarec Saffiedine in his first title defense at the last Strikeforce event ever. Heavily favored to win and go into the UFC with momentum on his side, he was upset by the Team Quest product, who utilized a precise Muay Thai clinic to batter Marquardt’s lead leg into a red, swollen mess. The fight left tons of questions open about the future of Marquardt’s career.

A veteran of 45 MMA fights, Nate Marquardt will need to answer those questions, and answer them fast, if he hopes to regain any sense of relevancy in the deep waters of the UFC 170 lb. division. Laden with talent, Marquardt will absolutely need a win against Jake Ellenberger to make another run at the title. And that will be no easy task.

Both combatants are extremely heavy-handed, with Ellenberger perhaps being the better wrestler while Marquardt holds the distinct advantage in BJJ. It’s a good fight, and a tough one to predict. But most pundits would probably pick Ellenberger rather handily given Marquardt’s last performance. It’s tough to blame them too.

Still, Marquardt retains a ton of talent, experience, and skills that have made him successful. He will obviously need to stay away from PEDs, an avenue that has previously plagued him on more than one occasion.

Will he be able to hang with the top of the UFC Welterweights? That’s going to be very tough. Obviously GSP, Hendricks, Condit, and perhaps even MacDonald would be rather large favorites to beat Marquardt. That may not have been the case had he handled his business against Saffiedine. But he did not, and will now need an impressive victory against no slouch in Ellenberger to fight on towards the mountaintop.

It’s tough to say that Marquardt is done for good, because he’s not. However, in returning to the UFC, and at 170, he has jumped headfirst into a deep pool full of sharks. Will he survive and thrive, or will he drown in the dangerous waters? 

  • You never know with Nate which guy you're going to get……one fight he looks absolutely awesome… an un-stoppable beast……then a fight or two later he looks like a 'lame' version of himself……could that be TRT related?…..who knows……Nate is a great fighter though no doubt about that……and he is very well rounded…..something you definately need to be in todays game……He does have the potential to do great IMO……just depends which Marquardt turns up……

  • Nate Marquardt is an enigma wrapped in a riddle surrounded by a steroid drenched mystery.

    • Still a big marquardt fan though

    • yeah i love to watch Nate vs matt riddle, which dope is more effective the weed or the steroids. hahahaha…

  • If the right Nate shows up, he'll win, perhaps even demolish Ellenberger. Of course, if the wrong Nate shows up, he's apt to just take a decision grounded out on him.

    However, here's my problem, as I check the latest UFC WW Rankings, John Fitch's name is (obviously) no longer on it. Of course, that would be fine had he "lost" his way out of the top-ten, but he did not. He was simply released. More particularly, he was released while ranked #9.

    What I see now, regarding the WW Rankings, almost seems akin to some Soviet era purge of Fitch's mark on The Division. To me, what The UFC brass is basically saying, is that Fitch didn't earn his #9 ranking and that they can do away with it and shuffle it, promote, demote or cut, as they see fit.

    Personally, I'm of the opinion that a top-ten fighter cannot, nor should they ever, be cut. Fighters have fought long and hard for those rankings and The UFC is the one that said…Okay, lets officially set the rank(s). Yet, with only a few weeks or months (I can't remember exactly when they 1rs came out, but it wasn't that long ago) of those rankings coming out, they seem to have thrown them in the garbage. At least @ 170.

    Dana White cannot just eradicate an earned ranking. If he can, then the rankings don't mean anything. Subsequently, to me all fights below Maia's #5 spot are suspect and open to debate. It cannot be argued to a point of certainty that Fitch would lose to either Ellenberger, Kampmann or Saffiedine and Lawler & Koscheck, were either not on the list or below Fitch, prior to Fitch's cut.

    Concluding – to me any fight in The UFC 170, below the #5 spot, is irrelevant and will remain so, until John Fitch loses. Sorry, but Dana failed to fully think this out. It's not all about the cash and the excitement. It "must" also be about the relevance of his own rankings.

    • The UFC is a business first and foremost. Boring fighters have plagued the UFC for too long, killing the sport for average people. The only people hanging on are the ******** fans like you and me.

      We don't have any right to judge the UFC for their decisions, the company belongs to them, and THEY are the ones who've brought it a long way, not you or I. If you don't like it, don't watch, it's simple.

      Furthermore, I'm happy they sent a message to boring fighters who are abusing the point system. I just don't get it, people complain for years about fighters abusing the point system, Dana does something about it, and the same people find something new to complain about!

      Given the cuts, the UFC is about to get a LOT more exciting, this decision was absolutely GENIUS, and fighters will think twice before lay-and-praying their way to the top (Do you really consider this winning a fight anyway??). Guess what, now fighters have to actually WIN fights to be on the top 10, not just find tactics to gather points. The heck with Jon Fitch and his boring style, and any other fighter who abuses the point system to win.

      • @ SeattleMan

        I would not argue the point that The UFC is a business. I need no more evidence, than the fact that it shows up on my cable bill.

        In terms of boring fighters plaguing The UFC and killing The Sport for average people, first, one would have to establish a credible and mutually acceptable definition for both boring and average and then, a mutually acceptable definition for killing. From where I sit in the crows nets, I see a Promotion which has been built on and off of, the backs of said fighters. Which is to say, there are more of the boring fighters, than there are of the Wizards?

        For example, how many Anderson Silva’s' or John Jones, could you name? For, they would be the only two notable Wizards that I could identify. If you have others, either by sustained or accredited record or by way of YouTube archive, would you please note and identify. However and this aside, we could name a multitude of worker bees, such as and not beginning with, every great wrestler who has entered The UFC and claimed belt, made (a) wake or impression or defined (a) rank, since the days of and continuing forward from, Matt Hughes, Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell. That is, the history and the legacy, which you deride or hang onto begrudgingly. I’m not sure which, by your comment(s).

        When you say that the only people who are hanging on to it are fans such as you and I, please….do not put me in the same life-boat as yourself, for you boat sinks. It has crashed upon steep rock and heavy wave…all as a result of bad Captaincy.

        My boat, on the other hand, continues to rule many a wave. As I suspect it will continue to do so, come Saturday night. When again, I will "pay", as will many more and in doing so, they and I, will continue to bolster GSP's PPV Cash-Cow Status as being the #1 money-maker for The Promotion, regardless of whether or not you or anyone else, finds him boring or can stomach his boringness and subsequently, “hand on”. To sum it up, in your passive-aggressive point of view, no one on The GSP Fan Bus, Section @ The Fight or After-Party, would want you there, win or lose.

        Sadly, I and many other average people, will continue to "hang on", regardless of whether or not you are part of it, appreciate it, condone, it or complain about it (I'm not sure as to what your overall contention is, here); we will continue to struggle on.

        As to our right to not judge The UFC, you would be wrong. It is every fans right to question, The Promotion. Indeed, it is both part of and married to the process of, that which is, both the fun and experience of the fight and the card, for the fans. I cannot speak for the ownership of The UFC, as to whether or not they see it the same way or enjoy it the same way.

        To put it in a nutshell, it’s that, I bought my ticket and paid my PPV attitude. Please, do not pitch to me some weak-kneed fan sycophancy, which stipulates that I must accept, but not question. I must accept, but not criticize.

        As to the subject of either myself or any of the average people who may or may not enjoy this type of boring fighting and, for all-intents-and-purposes, tell us to not watch it, if we don’t like it, I’d say to you, that’s a recipe for disaster, as a business model for The UFC. The Promotion, cannot afford to kiss off GSP fans. It’s that simple. It may and in all probability in the long-term, that The UFC cannot afford to cut any such fighters, so long as they are producing, John Fitch, being the first amongst this “free-market” debate and whether or not, The Promotion has done the right thing. Personally, I feel cutting Fitch was a massive mistake.

        Regarding Dana doing something “about” boring fighters and people complaining about it, first, I saw no petition from the fans complaining about “it”. Secondly, who empowered White, particularly post the new (official) rankings system, to “do” anything about “it”.

        If the sport is only to be about banging and stand-up, then let us all begin to follow and promote K1 (style) Kick-Boxing and be done with the concept of Mixed Martial Arts. Let us stop the pretense of caring who really is the best fighter and (simply) require lesser talented fighters, regarding a particular stand-up style, to fight lesser talented fighters in a ground style, in a stand-up only battle, simply so we can watch them get crushed and all, because it is exciting.

        Or, to put it another way, let’s make Matt Riddle stand and trade with Che Mills and lose in an exciting fashion, as opposed to allow him to do what he would do in a street fight or bar brawl and take the MF down and pound the crap out of him.

        Yeah, this is not what The UFC was built on, nor based on. If this is what it is coming to, then I’m more apt to follow a tournament style promotion like Bellator, than a belt & division ranked promotion, such as The UFC. The one is genuine, you work, produce and win, you move on. The other….well, maybe they’ll give a fighter a shot…maybe not. How did the audience respond and what were the PPV #s’ and did FOX like it? Yeah, that’s not what the Gracies’ envisioned and not what I, nor a great deal of other “average people” and I count myself, proudly, as one, signed on for.

        What I signed on for and what this sport has always revolved around, thrived upon and grown from, is the…if you can’t deal with the style…tough. Learn to. For those that complain about the boring style of GSP or any other (boring) fighter(s) and I’ve heard the same thing about fighters the caliber of Lyoto Machida, Frankie Edgar, Josh Koscheck, Michael Bisping and even the much vaunted Anderson Silva (on occasion), let alone the less notable and more prosaic, fighters, they should learn to deal with and overcome the battlements, which subdue their efforts. If they cannot do that, then they have no right to either be in The UFC or to complain. That is my retort on behalf and defense of “the boring”.

        Subsequently and taking into account, I reserve my right, on behalf of all those PPV buying average fans, to continue to support and defend all those boring fighters, particularly those that win Championships and if you are un-happy with said boring fighters, then perhaps you, who don’t like it, can choose not to watch it. It’s that simple.
        And if you prefer to watch lesser talented fighters, who don’t know how to stop a take-down or to get back up off of the ground or to defend off of their backs or to reverse or sweep a position and all you wish to see is a non-technical slugging match, between two fighters who pray to God that their opponent doesn’t shoot-in on them, the you enjoy that sport and The UFC can keep your (voting) dollar.

        I, on the other hand, would be more apt to gravitate to following Bellator and its tournament (style), which has but one rule, win and move one. For average people, such as me, it’s an easy concept to grasp and follow, points systems or otherwise.
        You say to heck with John Fitch and the points system. I say, to heck with people who want a revisionist approach to MMA, which leaves only Kick-Boxers at the top of the predatory-food-chain and only at the expense of and result of, removing any and all rules, which prevent wrestlers and ground-fighters, from plying their craft.
        If that’s what the sport is becoming, then many MMA fans will opt not to enter the arena doors, particularly in countries like Brazil and The United States and fail to purchase the PPVs’.
        It that’s the support you are suggesting or pursuing, then you can have it. Many of us will go back to watching boxing or give up combat sports, all together.

        It’s that simple.

  • Nate is a 'Great Fighter' I think at this time though he is suffering from burn out, one would think his drop to 170 has inspired him a bit and certainly the Woodley fight shows that. However like a lot of larger fighters who drop a weight class the soon realize they are larger but also slower than their opponents, TS used a perfect in and out game plan capitalizing exactly on that. Nate need to bully Ellenberger up against the fence and grind him down with his superior size (yes he will be the bigger stronger fighter) then drag JE into the later rounds, as JE is known to gas a bit whereas NM conditioning is, I believe, on a higher level. If he stands and trades with Jake it could be lights out as though nate has great offense his defence has never been that 'great'.

  • *striking defence*

  • Might as well have a concrete block chained to his ankles, because Nate won't be able to hang with this division……he'll sink like a stone in my opinion.