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Nate Marquardt Says He’s In “A Different League” Than Rick Story

MMA vet and longtime UFC middleweight staple Nate Marquardt is preparing to make his welterweight debut this coming Sunday against surging prospect Rick Story.

Despite being perennially considered to be one of the world’s top middleweights, Marquardt decided to make the drop at the urging of his friend and teammate Georges St-Pierre and found that he maintained his strength even with a slightly lighter frame.

“I feel I had a strength advantage at 185 [pounds],” Marquardt told “It doesn’t really matter who I go against, I feel that I’m almost always going to be stronger. The fact that I haven’t lost any strength going down means it’s only more so.”

Story will be replacing veteran Anthony “Rumble” Johnson in the fight, after Johnson was forced to withdraw due to injury. Marquardt sees advantages in facing Story over his original opponent.

“I think the fact that Rick Story just beat Thiago Alves, who was considered a former number one contender, that’s a pretty big deal,” he noted. “I can’t really think of anyone [Anthony] Johnson beat like that. Not saying that he’s not tough, but their records, Story has that and Johnson doesn’t.”

Marquardt now plans to prove that he’s the best welterweight in the organization, and hopes to do it at the expense of the fast-rising Rick Story.

“The fact that he’s this young up-and-comer, to me that just means that he doesn’t know that I’m in a different league,” said Marquardt. “He’s going to have problems that way.”

UFC Live: Marquardt vs. Story takes place this Sunday, June 26, 2011 from Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As always, will provide live coverage of the event.