Nate Marquardt on MMA Nation: Overcoming the Loss to Chael Sonnen, Preparing for Rousimar Palhares and Looking for the Next Title Shot


Last week on MMA Nation on 106.7 The Fan, we caught up with perennial UFC middleweight contender Nate "The Great" Marquardt. There was much to discuss as we wanted to gauge his reaction to the Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen bout, get a sense of how he was preparing for his upcoming headline fight on Spike TV against the dangerous submission specialist Rousimar Palhares and cover much more.

Marquardt is soft-spoken, but hardly dreary-eyed or laid back. While somber about the loss to Sonnen, he's focused about the road ahead. He openly wants to fight whoever he needs to to get another shot at the middleweight title even if he knows beating Palhares next Wednesday is no matter of procedure.

You can listen to the interview by clicking here for those with mobile devices. Audio player below:

Transcript provided by James Kimball:

LT: As promised, he's on the line with us right now, headlining UFC Fight Night 22 at the Frank Irwin Center in Austin, Texas September 15 live on Spike TV which will serve as the lead-in to season 12 of The Ultimate Fighter, the one and only Nate "The Great" Marquardt joins the show. Nate, how are you sir?

NM: Great, how you doing man?

LT: Good, buddy. So I'm assuming you're already in Texas, is that right?

NM: No, I leave next Saturday.

LT: Have you spent most of your time at the typical gyms? Easton BJJ, Grudge Training Center. How has it been for this camp?

NM: It's been great. I've been down here in Denver. Made some trips out to Montreal and Albuquerque. And of course I've been flying guys in here to work as well. The camp has been good.

LT: When you go to Albuquerque and Montreal, typically how long do you stay?

NM: Usually about a week to ten days at a time.

LT: So if you have a week to train at Albuquerque or ten days in Montreal, is there a goal in mind? Are you thinking in a week I'll have this item checked off my list, or do you go in there thinking whatever happens, happens. I'll just make the most of it. Do you have set goals?

NM: Yeah, for example, when I went to Albuquerque to work with Greg Jackson, we specifically focused a lot on ankle lock defense. Other than that, just making sure I'm getting good sparring sessions in with Keith Jardine, Jon Jones, and whoever else is available. I like to get good technical sparring sessions in. And then just picking up game plan tips along the way.

LT: Let's talk about Palhares. Many people don't know who he is. You are a King of Pancrase many times over. Let me give you an analogy for Palhares. I don't know that it totally works; I think it falls apart on some levels. Is it fair to call Palhares the Masakazu Imanari, which is to say, if he latches on a submission, he doesn't really care if you're tapping, he's breaking it? Imanari is known for grabbing hold of an ankle and going 0-60, not really caring if he breaks it. Is that fair to say that's who Palhares is.

NM: If your comparing it from organization to organization, yeah. But you can say when he goes for submissions he goes 100%. That's his style. He likes to work those submissions. But I'm ready to defend those submissions with everything I have. I'm not letting him catch me in anything.

LT: For folks who may not know, talk about your background in jiu-jitsu. Correct me if I'm wrong, you're a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but you also have one in Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, is that correct?

NM: That's correct.

LT: What is the difference between the two?

NM: Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu both come from Japanese Jiu-Jitsu. Those would be the more sport style of jiu-jitsu you could say. Judo takes all he throws. And than Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is all on the ground. Japanese Jiu-Jitsu is a blend of those with a little of karate mixed in there with the striking. I learned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu while I was learning Japanese Jiu-Jitsu.

LT: For this camp, did you train in the gi? Do you ever train the gi in preparation for a fight?

NM: No, I don't train in the gi for fights. I'll play around in the gi every once and awhile. I did it coming up through the ranks and to get my belts, but that's about it. Using the gi, you can grab the elbow and the gi for holds, but in a fight, those grips aren't there. Preparing for a fight, I think you should train as close to the fight as you can.

LT: Catch us up. The last time UFC fans saw you; you had a hell of a fight against Chael Sonnen. It didn't go your way. How have you been? You seem to be in good spirits. People may not know, but Joe Silva sure knows who Rousimar Palhares is. How did you take that loss?

NM: It was a hard loss for me. I was one step away from another title shot. I really feel like Chael [Sonnen] is a guy I should have beaten. But I didn't follow my game plan. I made a couple technical mistakes that cost me the fight. But that being said, I put on a great fight and almost finished him a couple of times. I definitely learned a lot from the fight. And that's what is most important. I'm a better fighter because of it.

LT: You had mentioned in a previous interview that your takedown defense is good, but you didn't stick to your game plan to properly defend the takedown against a wrestler. Tell us what you meant by that.

NM: Basically, when I'm competing against super high-level guys in freestyle or Greco-Roman, I can go with them, and my takedown defense is great. I can stop their takedowns and have a competitive match. But in MMA, takedowns have a lot to do with your distance. If I let someone in and grab my hips before I try to stop the takedown, a high-level wrestler should always get that takedown. But if a start out in a lower stance with my arms out, I have a much better chance of stopping it. Against Chael, I was coming forward trying to knock him out with every strike and that allowed him to get deep in on my hips and I wasn't able to defend them.


LT: Was there anything about his takedowns that surprised you? Was he stronger or faster than you thought he'd be? What was there about him that you didn't anticipate?

NM: There wasn't anything that surprised me other than the way he fought standing up. He puts himself in a position where he knows he's going to get a hit just to get that takedown. It almost cost him a couple of times. I almost knocked him out with a knee and almost hand him with a guillotine. But I know if I fought that fight with my game plan, I would have found my spots. It taught me to always follow my game plan.

LT: When you saw Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen, what was you major takeaway from that fight?

NM: There were a lot of things with that fight that I predicted. I knew that if he [Sonnen] got in on him [Silva] he would be able to take him down. And I knew that Chael was physically much stronger than Anderson. Chael is always very susceptible to the triangle, and Anderson is very good at it. He's won with that before. The only thing that I was a bit surprised with is that Anderson didn't use his stand up a bit more. But about 90% of what happened I could have predicted. It was a great fight.

LT: When you saw that fight, obviously you were thinking about getting to fight the winner, do you feel now, in seeing that fight, it seems to me that Anderson Silva has clear problems with defensive wrestling, but he's a good guard player. And Chael Sonnen, the guy has the style where he never really tries to finish guys. His first round ground and pound never looks like the second, third, or fourth. He kind of has a Tito Ortiz style of ground and pound, a little bit different because he doesn't use elbows. Because of that, does that keep you or whoever is fighting him in the game longer? He just doesn't put his opponents away.

NM: That's just his style. He's a very hardheaded guy. He sticks to wrestling. He doesn't want to learn any jiu-jitsu. That's why he's great at wrestling, but also why he gets caught up in submissions.

LT: Do us a favor here, you are the guy who was locked up with Sonnen for three rounds and in a few short days will be fighting Palhares. Contrast the wrestling game; obviously "Toquinho" likes to go for submissions from different angles so you have to worry about that. But how does the wrestling compare between Sonnen and Palhares?

NM: Honestly, that's hard for me to say because I haven't fought him yet. I heard he's working very hard on his wrestling. I'm expecting him to be a great wrestler when it comes to his takedowns. If he shows up with anything less than that it'll be an easy night. But if he shows up with good takedowns I'll be able to display that I have good takedowns defense. I'll have him on the bottom if he pulls guard or whatever and be able to work my ground and pound from there. But who knows? He could be a completely different fighter when I fight him.

LT: What has UFC management told you about getting another title shot? Obviously you have to beat Palhares to get anywhere. But have they told you that you have to do X, Y, and Z to get in line for another title shot?

NM: No, and to be honest, they're never that specific. I'm always surprised when they guarantee a title shot. You could win a fight but have a horrible performance and all of a sudden they don't want to put you in a title fight. When you're at the top of a division you're only a couple wins from a title shot. You could come off back-to-back losses but then get two knockouts in a row against great opponents and then you're right back in the title hunt.

LT: Let me give you a hypothetical. Let's say you beat Palhares and you look good doing it. And then there is a clear-cut winner in the Vitor Belfort vs. Yushin Okami fight. Would you want the winner of that fight?

NM: Definitely. Not looking past Palhares, but winning this fight I'm gonna want a top guy. My goal is to get a title shot. I think I'm gonna have to beat one of those guys or maybe a Wanderlei Silva to get that shot.

LT: Oh, that would be a great fight. Wanderlei Silva vs. Nate Marquardt. That would be a great affair. Now, do you ever choose your opponents? Do you ever go he UFC and say I want this guy or that guy?

NM: Oh yeah, for sure. I think that's the best way. If you have interest in the fight, the fans have interest, and the UFC wants it, that's the best way to do it. That way you can pick a match up based on your style. But at this position I think everyone is a good match up for me.

LT: Who do you like in the rematch between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen? Who's the favorite heading into that fight in your mind?

NM: I think Silva is gonna win again. I think Chael will probably go in as a favorite on most people's cards. It'll be hard to put him as the underdog based on how he dominated Anderson. But I think Silva is a smart fighter. He'll adjust his stand up game and he still has the ground game to work with. It'll be tougher for Chael the next time.

LT: Let me change topics to discuss a couple of your training partners. In two year's time, or maybe a year's time, will Jon Jones be the light heavyweight champion?

NM: That's a tough question. We also have Rashad Evans. I think he's gonna take the title from the Shogun. I think both guys will get there eventually. Both guys will hold the title in their careers.

LT: Alright, let me ask you this then. After he beat Vladimir Matyushenko he appeared on MMA Live sitting next to Rashad Evans and appeared to be much larger than Evans. Do you think there is heavyweight fighting in Jones' future?

NM: That's a good question. I've heard that argument. It's definitely possible. He has a huge reach. He's young as well so if a he puts the weight on, yeah. But it'll be up to him. If he keeps his diet tight, he could stay at 205. But honestly, any of the guys at light heavyweight are skilled enough that they could make up the weight difference with skill. I think they all could fight at heavyweight.

LT: And of course, the card you're headlining, UFC Fight Night 22, will serve as the lead-in to TUF 12 where one of the coaches is you teammate Georges St. Pierre. This is the only way to look at this. The first fight, in terms of MMA wrestling, Koscheck got outwrestled. In the time that has past since that fight, do I really believe that Koscheck's wrestling has gotten better than St. Pierre's? I don't. Aren't we gonna see the same type of fight because of that?

NM: I think Koscheck is gonna come with a completely different game plan, so you're not gonna see the same fight. It'll be a tough fight for Georges. I think he'll come out on top. He has more tools than Josh and the tools he has are far sharper than Josh's. His striking and ground game are much better. I don't think Georges' wrestling is necessarily better than Koscheck's, but he uses it much better in a fight. Mixing in is takedowns with striking; the combination of the two, he will be able to outwrestle him that way.

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