Nate Marquardt

I feel I have the best team in the world, guys who are excellent on the ground. I have black belts that I train with; really good, world-class fighters. I’m sure I can’t replicate Demian because he’s got his own tricks, but I have great training partners on the ground, and I’ll feel comfortable there with him…I’m experienced enough that I’m not going to make some silly mistake and get caught in a triangle or something like that. The triangle that I have to worry about is the one he sets up. If I feel like he’s setting stuff up, I’m going to try to get back to my feet, but if I’m doing damage, I’m going to keep doing damage…Everyone has their setups, whether you’re standing, or with takedowns, or on the ground. That’s the difference between an amateur or a pro, or a great fighter. They don’t just try to hit you; they try to trick you to move a certain way so they can hit you harder. And it’s the same thing with submissions. If he wants to push you, he’s going to pull you first so you react. That’s how great fighters are. They set things up to try to trick you into moving the way they want you to. And he’s very good at that.

—Nate Marquardt, in an interview with MMA Fanhouse, commenting on his preparation and gameplan for Demian Maia’s ground game

Even with Couture-Nogueira headlining, Marquardt-Maia is easily the fight on this Saturday’s UFC 102 card that I’m most looking forward to. Maia has won all five of his UFC fights via submission, but he hasn’t faced anyone as well-rounded as Nate Marquardt yet. Maia is still playing catch-up in the other facets of MMA, most notably in the striking department, so you would expect Marquardt to maintain distance and pick Maia apart from the outside. However, as Marquardt said, he’s not afraid to the go to the ground with Maia, and if that happens, I have to believe the advantage swings in Maia’s favor. It’s a compelling fight with a possible number one contender match against Dan Henderson or even a title shot waiting for the winner.

Will Nate Marquardt be victim #6 for Demain Maia? Or is Maia too one-dimensional to make it to the top of the UFC’s middleweight division?