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 admitted to taking the fight on short notice because a title shot was on the line.
“When [the UFC] offered this fight, I jumped right on it,” Marquardt told MMAFighting.com. “When you get to the top of the division, there tends to be less fights available. The reason I took this fight on such short notice is because it’s for a title shot.”
While a title shot is looming for the victor, Marquardt understands that he can’t look past his opponent, who is 9-2 in the UFC. Despite Okami’s impressive pedigree, Marquardt is confident that he will come out of Saturday’s fight as the next top contender for the UFC middleweight championship.
“I’ve seen, and heard, that he’s pretty big and strong,” said Marquardt. “But what I have a lot of here in Denver are guys who are big and strong with good takedowns, so that’s something I feel I’m already ready for… I have good takedowns of my own and good takedown defense, especially against judo-style takedowns, which is what he tends to use. Really, I feel very confident.”
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).
“I’m just happy to have the opportunity again,” he explained. “I feel like it’s my time. I’ve improved so much and I feel like I’m a different fighter.””
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.