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The Quotable Nate Marquardt

“I think I’ve always had that mean streak in me, and I kinda lost it there for a little while just because certain things changed in the way I was fighting. Then the loss to Anderson (Silva) gave me it back.”

From his early years in Japan’s Pancrase organization to his current status as one of the UFC’s top middleweights, Nate Marquardt has seen it all in the fight game. On November 13th, one of the most seasoned veterans in the sport will step into the Octagon to face Yushin Okami, with the winner getting a shot at the 185-pound belt. But before we get to Germany, let’s hear from the man dubbed “Nate The Great”.

On his debut in Pancrase against Genki Sudo (2001)
"Before my first fight it was nerve racking. He beat me but I knew that I was better than him, and I knew that if I stuck with the training, I could accomplish a lot. It kind of put a fire in me to train harder and go back and win my fights."

On his bout with Shonie Carter (2001)
"The first ten minutes were kind of boring, except that I got him in a triangle choke right off the bat and I almost had him. He eventually got out, and he ended up knocking me down one time later in the fight, so they called the first round a draw. In the second round I had him in the guard and I reversed him over with a kimura lock. He turned and gave me his back and I sunk in a rear choke. I had him fully flattened out and then the bell rang like three seconds after I had the choke sunk in. They gave the decision to me after that."

On being King of Pancrase at 22 (2001)
“The Pancrase guys think it's great that I'm so young and already the champion. I can only get better from here on out, and I have a lot of fighting time before I retire. Being a champion this young is good because I can continue to fight for a long time."

On Anderson Silva – pre-fight (2007)
“I see a great fighter, someone similar to myself in some things – good standup, good ground. You can see that he’s very strong mentally and has that fighter’s mentality where he’s not gonna give up and that he can handle all the stress of the fight and perform well.  I just have to go in there and look at his weaknesses, look at his strengths, figure out a gameplan, and just do what I’ve always done – go out and fight.”

On changes since his loss to Ricardo Almeida in 2003 (2007)

“Since then, I’ve become a lot more religious and I think that’s probably one of my biggest strengths. I’m very close to God, and to me, that’s the biggest thing.  And then obviously, I was blessed with great teammates – that’s kinda when I switched over to Jackson’s, and it’s also when I started working with my boxing trainer, Trevor (Wittman).”

On the necessity of change (2007)
“I think I had to go through the stuff that I went through to get to that point – some of the bad times and the losses and things like that. That’s what makes you realize that you need something in your life and that something’s gotta change.  Otherwise you wouldn’t change if you’re winning all the time and everything’s great.”

On the importance of the mental game (2007)

“When I visualize my fights, my fights can go two minutes and I can choke him out or knock him out, but at the same time, if I don’t get that quick finish, I’m always prepared to go the distance, no matter what.  It’s a mental thing, and a conditioning thing as well, but I’m always prepared for anything in a fight, and that’s the way I want to keep it. A lot of my preparation right now is mental and this is when I really focus in on my mental training.”

On his dream (2007 – pre-Silva)
“It’s been my dream since I was 15 years old to be UFC champion and now’s my chance, so that’s gonna mean a lot to me. I grew up basically wanting to be a fighter and wanting to be the champion - not for any of the attention or glory or anything like that – but just to prove to myself that I could do it.”

On the Silva fight (2008)
“I started to believe what everyone was saying about how dangerous he was and what a good standup fighter he was. Looking back, I let everyone’s perception of the fight kinda change my view of the fight as well. I should have just gone out there and fought my fight. I started out that way, and through the fight it kinda changed. To be honest, I believe I’m a better standup fighter than he is and I believe I’m more dangerous than him, and I should have kept that frame of mind the whole fight. And all of a sudden he caught me with a shot right at the end of the round, and instead of attacking I went into defending mode.”

On burnout (2008)

“That was something I was dealing with before the Silva fight because I have been doing it for so long. Instead of fighting to win or because I love to fight, I started fighting to not lose, and that kinda took the fun out of it, and I think I really needed that fight (against Silva) because now I show up to training and I’m excited, it’s fun, and I’m learning new stuff. Before I always trained and competed in the sport because I liked to, and now I’m back to that, and I think that’s important.” “I really needed that fight,” he said. “Now I’m not scared of losing anymore and that makes me a lot more dangerous.”

On the Mean Streak (2010)
“I think I’ve always had that mean streak in me, and I kinda lost it there for a little while just because certain things changed in the way I was fighting. Then the loss to Anderson (Silva) gave me it back.”

Adjusting his fighting philosophy post-Silva (2010)
“For a while, I was kinda fighting in order to not lose, and I had really good control of the fights – good wrestling, good boxing, good defense – but that finishing aggressiveness wasn’t there, and I put that back in. That’s something I had in the past, and I continued to work on skill, technique and stuff, and I got better in all areas, but that’s what’s made the biggest difference, just because I kinda left it out for a while.”

Sport vs Fight (2010)
“In the past I’ve always looked at it as both. It is a sport, but it’s also a fight. It’s not a game. You’re out there and you can really get hurt. You could be winning the fight, but at any moment, if you make the wrong move, you can get knocked out or choked out, and vice versa. It doesn’t matter how you’re doing, you’re in there to fight and to finish the guy. For a while, I was looking at it as more of a sport.”

On sparring with former world boxing champion Verno Phillips (2010)
“For at least two or three years, he was one of my main sparring partners. Sparring with a guy like that, I really learned how to box. The level of boxing that guys like that have is just unreal and you have to know how to box to spar with a guy like that. When I first started with him, it was rough. Every sparring session I felt like I was going into a real fight. Every shot I got hit with, I’d feel it and I’d be tense and every time I’m trying to counter I’m trying to hit him hard too just to keep him off me. After a while, you learn how to move, how to counter, how to react without being tense, and that’s how you learn how to box.:

On standup fighting (2010)
“Your gameplan has to start with your standup because that’s where the fight starts. You don’t start on the ground, so you have to have a gameplan for standing, and one thing that you can get from boxing is the footwork and that’s one thing that really translates well to mixed martial arts. If you use the right footwork, it makes it very difficult for your opponent to get his hands on you. If you’re more of a stationary, plodding fighter, that’s gonna make it a lot easier for a guy to take you down. If you look at Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran the first time they fought, Sugar Ray Leonard tried to slug with Duran and he played his game. But when he switched it up, fought him from the outside and used his feet and moved around the ring, Duran couldn’t touch him.”

On his early days in the UFC (2007)
“There’s really not that much pressure on me. When you’re the champ or have been the champ, they expect a certain thing from you, and if they don’t see what they’re looking for, they might be upset. But this way, I like being the underdog going into a fight. I don’t think I ever lost a fight being the underdog because I go into a fight with a strong mental game and I think it’s a great situation for me.”

The Competitor (2010)

“I don’t really know where that comes from. I think I’ve always had that and it’s more of a really competitive mentality. It’s kinda funny because my family members or my wife’s family members, they always tell me, whatever we’re doing, whether it’s video games or just playing around, ‘oh gosh, you’re so competitive.’ (Laughs) I guess a lot of people aren’t like that, and for me it’s just normal. It’s kinda weird for me to think the other way.”