“I think [Marquardt] is a cheater, but [against] me, he can take all the drugs he wants. I’m going to whoop his ass anyway… I don’t see him making [170]. … He’s a natural 185. He’s been fighting at 185. At one point he was number two in the world at 185… There’s no excuses anymore. Don’t say you’ve got a contract with the UFC because he doesn’t have it. He can take the fight and prove everybody wrong… Nobody respects me at the moment. That’s why I want to fight Nate Marquardt and show the people what I can do… Please, guys, help me out. Put the word out there and put the pressure on this guy to make the fight happen with me.”

— Bellator middleweight champ Hector Lombard telling Sherdog he wants to “whoop Nate Marquart’s ass” whether he cheats or not

You can definitely count Bellator as one of the promotions that have a high interest in Nate Marquardt. Bellator welterweight champ Ben Askren called Nate immediately after Dana White publicly fired him and clearly Bellator middleweight champ Hector Lombard wants a crack at him too.

Of course, they’re not the ones who sign the checks, so what does Bellator head honcho Bjorn Rebney think about Marquardt? Well, for now he’s playing it cool, but in an interview on ESPN MMA Live, Rebney hinted that he’d like to bring Marquardt on board once his suspension is lifted (which could happen this week when commission officials meet to decide Marquardt’s fate). Transcription via MMA Mania:

“We all recognize he’s a very talented fighter. And I’m as interested like you are to see how the situation plays out with the commission over the coming weeks. Anybody who would tell you that they’re not interested in Nate as he becomes available, a guy of that caliber, would be lying to you. So, sure, we’re interested but let’s see how things play out over the next couple weeks with the commission and then we can go from there.”

Another report suggests, however, that Bellator is farther along in the courting process than Rebney leads on. ESPN Insider (via BE) claims that Bellator has already made an offer to Marquardt to compete in their middleweight division, however Rebney claimed on MMA Live that he wasn’t sure which weight class they would put Marquardt in.

“I don’t know (if he would be a welterweight or a middleweight). What is he, top seven ranked in the world as a 185-pounder? You’re looking to take that strength and that ability down to (170-pounds), I mean, he would be a pretty dominant physical force down at 170-pounds. So, I don’t know. Really not that deeply into it. But as a fan looking at it, I’d like to see him fight at (185-pounds) and I’d like to see him fight at (170-pounds). So, see where he wants to go.”

Well, I think I know which weight class Hector Lombard wants him to fight in. If it wasn’t already apparent how bad Lombard wants the fight, check out how intense he gets in the video below.

Image via Bellator.com

Update: If Nate Marquardt does sign with Bellator, a “high-placed placed company source” told MMA Fighting that “Bjorn has never, and will never, offer a fighter an immediate title shot.” Instead, expect Bellator to either do a non-title super fight with Marquardt or place him in one of their tournaments for a chance to earn his title shot.