With UFC 109: Relentless just around the corner, Nate “The Great” Marquardt shared his thoughts on his pending battle against Chael Sonnen. Marquardt, who spoke with MMAFighting.com on media day, is clearly trying to make the best out of a bad situation. “The Great” admitted to having his sights set a bit higher than the relatively low profile Sonnen.
Riding a three fight-winning streak, all by knockout or TKO against top ranked opponents, Marquardt was prepared to square off against Dan “Hendo” Henderson with the winner getting a second shot at UFC superman, Anderson “The Spider” Silva. As luck would have it, no such fight transpired, since UFC President Dana White and Henderson were unable to come to terms during contract negotiations. Ultimately, Hendo chose to depart the organization and sign with rival promotion Strikeforce. This turn of events left Marquardt without a likely opponent.
When Team Quest’s Sonnen was presented as Hendo’s replacement, Marquardt admits that he was not excited about the bout. “I was actually even disappointed when they offered me Chael… He is not as well known as me… But at the same time I don’t want to sit around and wait for a fight,” explained Marquardt. “I definitely respect Chael, he is a very tough guy, but he is more of a grinder and I think one of his best weapons is just his mind, he is mentally tough in fights… that combined with his wrestling.”
Respect withstanding, Marquardt sees a clear path to victory, “I have not seen him fight a guy who can handle his wrestling… I am going to stop his takedowns. I’m going to wear him out. I’m going to beat him on the feet.”
“The Great” knows that the pressure is on him to win. “Going from being offered Dan Henderson and then rumors of fighting Vitor Belfort… Both of those guys are ranked higher and a ton more popular [than Sonnen]. I think there would be a lot more publicity from those fights. Chael is just as tough as those guys but the tension is not on him as much,” he stated. “For me [this fight] is not a win-win situation. I am expected to win. Even if he does well and I win, it kinda looks bad for me.”
Although confident he will be victorious, Marquardt is making sure not to overlook Sonnen. “I am 100% focused for sure. You can’t look past any fighter,” he proclaimed. “Anything can happen in mixed martial arts… I let my guard down for one second and it could be over.”
If Marquardt does prevail, he longs for another shot at middleweight champion Silva and believes he has improved from their first bout.
“Mentally, I am a lot tougher. Basically, I am a different fighter. Before I was fighting defensively, not willing to take any risks just because I didn’t want to get caught. Now I am going out and finishing fights. That’s how I fight best. That’s how I’m dangerous,” he clarified.
Marquardt faces Sonnen at UFC 109 this Saturday, Feb 6 at 10PM ET/7PM PT from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, NV.