UFC middleweight contender Nate “The Great” Marquardt is poised to face off against Yushin Okami this weekend in Germany to determine the next challenger to the UFC middleweight throne. Having fought for the title before (losing to Anderson Silva via TKO in 2007) and having recently lost to Chael Sonnen in a bout that would have propelled him into the number one contender’s spot, Marquardt plans on using a newfound motivation to ensure victory over Okami.
“After I lost to Chael, I realized maybe I’d lost some desire, my focus to be champion,” Marquardt said during a recent media conference call. “Now I have that back fully and I feel very prepared. I want to be champ and I’m one step away. The Chael fight reignited that desire. I feel like I lost to a guy I should have beaten and it makes me mad at myself.”
Current UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva will next face Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort in defense of his title. Should he find a way past Okami, Marquardt will face the winner of that bout; for his part, the Greg Jackson pupil doesn’t care which man he fights as long as it’s for the belt (though he wouldn’t mind getting some revenge against Silva).
“For me, the most important thing is to get a title fight and fight the champion,” said Marquardt. “That’s my dream, to become champion. It doesn’t necessarily matter who it is [that I fight], but at the same time, I’d prefer it to be Silva because he’s been champion for so long and he’s proven to be the top of the division.”
Marquardt feels similarly of his bout with Silva as he does is bout with Sonnen; that he lost to a fighter he was capable of defeating for making simple mistakes.
“When I fought Silva, I didn’t use all tools I have because I was holding back,” he said. “You can see in all my fights since then, I did a lot of damage. My last four wins came by knockout.”
Asked if he felt that Sonnen had exposed Silva during his UFC 117 performance against the champ (which saw him dominate the fight before succumbing to a last-minute triangle choke), Marquardt explained that he has always seen holes in Silva’s game and that Sonnen’s performance only reinforced his belief.
“It’s been known to me for a long time that Anderson had holes in his game,” said Marquardt. “And if anything it was more of an eye opening event for the media because they put him on this pedestal like he was unbeatable and Chael was able to expose, obviously, that he’s susceptible to take downs, susceptible to ground and pound on the end. Even if somebody lands a punch on him, that he actually can get wobbled.”
Marquardt and Okami will square off this Saturday in the main event of UFC 122, which is to be held at the Konig Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen, Germany.