(Marquardt vs. Maia via the UFC’s Youtube page.)
Throwback Thursday is a new recurring column that pays tribute to the stars of an upcoming UFC event by taking a look back at some of their greatest defining moments. This week, we look back at the night Nate Marquardt ended Demian Maia’s undefeated MMA career in emphatic fashion ahead of his do-or-die fight against James Te Huna at Fight Night 43 this weekend.
Despite being brutally knocked out twice in 3 minutes or less since returning to the UFC, former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nate Marquardt will be headlining the Fight Pass card (Fight Night 43) of this weekend’s Fight Night doubleheader. Paired against yet another knockout artist in James Te Huna, Marquardt will need to show some flashes of his old self if he is to defeat the game New Zealander and remain employed with the UFC.
Prior to his past two contests, however, Marquardt had only been stopped once by strikes in some 45 fights, and had actually been building a reputation as a rather fierce striker in his own right with his wins over Martin Kampmann and Wilson Gouveia. Of course, it was his 21-second whoopin’ of the then undefeated Jiu-Jitsu master Demian Maia at UFC 102 that truly opened our eyes to the destructive power “The Great” possessed when he was on his game.
Allow me to set the scene for you: The year was 2009, and one of the most credentialed BJJ fighters to ever enter the UFC had racked up five straight submission wins in the promotion (and four “Sub of the Night” awards) over the likes Nate Quarry, Chael Sonnen, and Ed Herman. All of them decisive, all of them dominant. Yes, Maia was on a roll as they say, already being heralded as the next middleweight title challenger if not the next champion for his ground prowess alone. We were so young.
Matched up against Marquardt, a former title challenger with outstanding wrestling skills and proven power in his hands, Maia realized that he would need to hone his striking skills if he was ever going to get within arm’s reach of his well-rounded opponent.
“He’s been working his striking with Wanderlei Silva,” Mike Goldberg informed us in the opening seconds of the fight. Joe Rogan seemed to be in agreement for once, but before he could even reassure the viewing audience of Maia’s true intentions, Marquardt caught Maia charging in with his hands down. The shot he landed was an earth-shattering, first punch KO that quite literally sent Maia into a tailspin.
Maia’s face bounced off the canvas like a basketball with a sickening thud. Thankfully, Marquardt realized that Maia was out cold mid-follow up punch and opted against inflicting any further damage.
“Every fight starts standing,” declared Mike Goldberg, with yet another astute observation.
In less time than it takes Rin Nakai to strike the fear of God into my erection, Maia’s undefeated ascension had suddenly come to a crashing halt.
Marquardt’s third straight TKO win earned him a #1 contender’s match against Chael Sonnen at UFC 109, where he would be treated to a good old fashioned grapplefucking by the Gangster from West Lynn. Despite going 3-1 in his next 4 fights, Marquardt would be unexpectedly axed by the UFC when his UFC on Versus 4 pre-fight medical exam revealed that he had elevated levels of testosterone running through his system.
Marquardt’s positive test served as the precursor to the TRT-riddled landscape the UFC would soon become, and according to his Wikipedia page, was the result of a variety of contributing factors. Aren’t they always.
On June 28, 2011, Nate appeared on MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani and stated that in August 2010 he felt tired and moody and his doctor discovered he had low testosterone levels. That doctor put Nate on hormone replacement therapy, and when Nate applied for a Therapeutic Use Exemption with the New Jersey state commission, they allowed it but declared that he must go off the therapy for ten weeks, then have his levels retested by a specialist to determine if he really needs to be on the therapy or not.
At the end of that period, both the specialist and Nate’s primary doctor agreed his levels really were low and he was a candidate for replacement therapy. Nate’s primary doctor injected him with testosterone to quickly get his levels back up in time for his scheduled fight against Story. The Pennsylvania commission had set standards for what his testosterone levels could be at fight time and Nate’s levels, though trending down over the last week before the fight, still failed to fall to within the range required in time for him to be cleared to fight. Nate claimed that he retook tests on the day of the fight and was actually within qualifying limits, thus having his suspension lifted by the commission.
Following a two-fight stint in Strikeforce that saw “The Great” capture the welterweight title via an absolutely terrifying knockout of Tyron Woodley, then lose that title via a leg-kick blitzkrieging to Tarec Saffiedine, Marquardt would be invited back to the UFC to face Jake Ellenberger. It did not end well. Nor did his follow up fight with Hector Lombard.
Which brings us to this weekend, where Marquardt will arguably be fighting for his career against Te Huna (who is in similar territory himself). I only say “arguably” because the non-firings of guys like Charlie Brenneman have only further diluted my understanding of the UFC’s hiring and firing policies. I mean, have you heard that Sexyama and Kid Yamamoto are being booked for the UFC’s return to Japan? Despite the fact that neither of them have fought in 2 years and have combined for a UFC record of 1-7? Sheesh.