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UFC 182: Jones vs. Cormier - Idiot's Guide Preview to Brad Tavares vs. Nate Marquardt

As usual, the three things you need to know about Brad Tavares, recent butterfly effect victim, vs Nate Marquardt, back from the Welterweight dead to feast on Middleweight brains.

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Match Up

Middleweight Brad Tavares 12-3 vs. Nate Marquardt 33-13-2

The Odds

Brad Tavares: +115

Nate Marquardt: -135

'Finish Him' Stats

Brad Tavares: TKO/KO (4)

Nate Marquardt: Rear Naked Choke (6)

3 Things You Should Know

1. Tavares' loss to Tim Boetsch set Brad's progress back only on paper. In practice, Tavares is still trending up.

Man oh man. Tim seems like such a good guy who I wish no ill will on, but boy has he become the Bradbury's Sound of Thunder for fight analysts. He was well on his way towards losing to Yushin Okami, and likely Brad as well until the sound of thunder cometh. Obviously, this reads like reductionist nonsense. A win is a win.

I can concede that. What I won't concede is that a single mixed martial arts bout can fully define a narrative between the experience of two fighters engaged in battle. See Serra vs. GSP. Liddell vs. Couture 1. Et cetera. Tavares wasn't dominating Boetsch in their bout last August, but he was ahead. A left hook changed all that, leaving Tavares with a 7-3 UFC record.

I've always been impressed with what Tavares has been able to achieve. Like Gray Maynard, he's able to do a lot with so little. Neither guys are particularly fast, athletic, or dynamic, but they fight to their strengths without ever breaking rhythm or character.

2. Marquardt, the antimatter to Tavares' matter, is better on paper than in practice at this point in his career. But he's still dangerous.

Nate is a guy I continue to overestimate because of his prior accomplishments. He's had some tough matchups, and even won some (vs. Tyron Woodley), but this is still the guy who will always hold a special place on my heart for his Killer Instinct combo breaker against Wilson Gouveia. And getting switched into submission by Anderson Silva.

Now it seems like he can't get much done. Part of it probably has a little to do with dropping down in weight. In that way Nate is a great example of limiting yourself by cutting weight. Nate's strength at 185 was his speed, which he lost at Welterweight. He's coming off a win over James Te Huna back to his natural weight, so perhaps he's here to stay. One would hope at least. Leaving out his early career where he was the size of a Pat Barry leg, he's 1-3 at MW.

3. This fight will either be won at range by Marquardt. Or won in close by Tavares.

This bout is easy to dissect on the surface. Nate is well rounded, but he will get flat out bullied in the clinch by Tavares (who was cutting up Boetsch like a cheese grater before the TKO). I've always been impressed by what Nate is able to do at range. He doesn't use a whole lot of weapons when you look at his game. Kicks? Nothing mindblowing. Punches? I can't even recall seeing him throw a left hook. Everything he uses on the feet is in service of a swift straight right that he baits opponents with. Nate throws one of the cleanest straight rights in MMA. Sometimes it lands with a thud. Other times it lands with its own zip code, and anyone caught in its path is reduced to laundry in a Kenmore appliance like Demian Maia.

For all of Tavares' power, he doesn't use it all the well from a distance. He stays in the pocket just fine, but swings with his head down. For all the long winded criticism I keep throwing Boetsch's way, it's not like he didn't score big shots in round one. To me the deciding factor here is Brad's ability to get in close. He'll make it a dirty fight, and even though Nate is a solid grappler (watch out for his guillotine), he doesn't fight well off his back. Tag to that a strong top control game, and I just don't see Nate overcoming the strength and size disadvantage.


Brad Tavares by TKO, round 3.

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