(Markham lands a vicious head kick on Brodie Farber while pondering that age-old question, is it still a tramp stamp if it has a vaguely threatening message?)
It turns out that we aren’t the only ones who are skeptical about Nate Diaz‘s chances to make it in the UFC as a 170-pounder. Rory Markham, who will welcome Diaz to the division at UFC 111 on March 27, recently told us he doesn’t see the Stockton, Ca. product having a lot of success in the welterweight class, partly because he lacks the punching power, but also because he’s trying to make the jump too soon.
"Moving up and down in weight always seems like a simple fix, but you have to have time to do it. He’s not taking a lot of time to go up, and I think that’s going to hinder him greatly. If you don’t take it slow, you don’t put on the muscle right. I understand his motivation for going up, but I don’t know if it’s a good idea for him. He didn’t exactly carry a bunch of power at 155, and there are some heavy-hitters up here in this weight class. That’s something I know I carry. I can say that whole-heartedly and humbly."
Markham, who’s 1-1 in the UFC and has his own striking power to thank for 11 of his 16 career victories, says he had a somewhat unusual reaction to being offered the fight with Diaz over the weekend.
"Monte [Cox] called me and said, ‘How about Nate Diaz?’ At first I thought, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, he’s a lightweight. But then I remember hearing that he said he wanted to go up. So I said, ‘Absolutely. Are you kidding me?’ Then, for the first time in my career, I called him back a couple minutes later and he was kind of like, ‘What now?’ And I just told him, hey, thanks. Really, thanks. This is a win-win for everybody. Make it happen."
What intrigues him, says Markham, is the contrast in styles between Diaz’s striking and his own.
"With these four-ounce gloves you have to respect everybody’s power, but those little peppering shots that he throws, you can’t let them go by without answering them and answering them hard, which is the only way I know how to punch. I think my style is a great contrast with his. There’s already an air around this fight for me that I haven’t felt in a while."
As for whether a move up in welterweight will bring the desired career rejuvenation, Markham seems doubtful. He attributes Diaz’s eagerness to jump weight class to a little youthful exuberance.
"Him being at 155 and not having a whole lot of power, I’m not sure 170’s the answer for him. He’s a young guy and when you’re young you like to try things, you think you got it all figured out. I’m not an old man, but I’ll be 28 when I fight him and edging at right around ten years in this game, and one thing I’ve learned is it’s tough to go up in weight in just three months.
"…Every time I’ve watched him I felt like I knew which Nate I was going to be watching. He’s the same cumulative puncher. …He has to find something new. I’m not sure 170 is going to be what he’s looking for. Maybe a different approach to takedowns or submissions, but I think he’s going to find out that 170 is not the answer on March 27."
Markham also took a shot at Dan Hardy, who defeated him via TKO in his last outing and will be moving on to face Georges St. Pierre for the welterweight title on the same fight card. When asked if he thinks Hardy deserves the shot, Markham had no problem giving us his honest opinion.
"I’d be cutting my own throat if I said yes. There’s no way, come on. I don’t know Josh Koscheck or Jon Fitch or a lot of the welterweights personally, but I know what they’ve done. There are guys who have been in there a lot longer and had success against a lot bigger names. Hardy has put himself in a lot of good positions. He managed to get that Swick fight when it had already been billed as a number one contender fight, and strategically, the light has shined on him. I don’t think it’s going to shine on him against GSP. I think it’s going to be a pretty bad night for him."