Nate Marquardt is one fight away from stepping back inside the world famous Octagon.

After getting released by the company in June of 2011, Marquardt spent most of the last 18 months on the sidelines, with just a single fight on his resume since his UFC departure.

“The Great” was cut from the UFC roster after getting pulled from a fight against Rick Story barely a day before the bout due to his inability to get his testosterone inside the required levels. The mishap drew the ire of UFC President Dana White, who wasn’t pleased with Marquardt’s late withdrawal from his bout, and it appeared it would be a long time before we saw the former middleweight contender back inside the Octagon.

However, after Marquardt’s deal with the British MMA promotion BAMMA fell through earlier this year, the former UFC middleweight title challenger was able to jump back under the Zuffa banner by joining the Strikeforce roster.

It was in Strikeforce where Marquardt earned what is arguably his greatest achievement to date, when he snagged the promotion’s welterweight belt in a fourth-round TKO win over Tyron Woodley late last year.

But, despite winning one of the biggest prizes of his career, Marquardt’s time as a champion will effectively come to an end on Saturday night, no matter the outcome of his first title defense. With Strikeforce folding after the event, Marquardt really shouldn’t be looking to defend his title against Tarec Saffiedine this weekend. Instead, he should be looking to make a statement to the UFC’s welterweight roster.

If Marquardt gets beat or squeaks past Saffiedine by decision this weekend, it’s going to result in Marquardt getting an opponent that is barely sitting inside of the top 10 at 170 pounds.

However, if he goes out and completely destroys his opponent on Saturday night, Marquardt may have an outside shot at getting a welterweight title fight later this year.

A UFC title has always eluded Marquardt in his MMA career, and even though he was a highly successful middleweight for a long time, he fell short in his lone attempt to earn a UFC belt. He was stopped in the first round in his title bid against champion Anderson Silva and lost a pair of title eliminators that thwarted his quest to challenge Silva once more.

In all reality, any sort of impressive win for Marquardt is going to push him deep into welterweight title contention when he rejoins the UFC roster. With Nick Diaz getting the next shot at the belt and Rory MacDonald still refusing to fight his mentor for the belt, Johny Hendricks is the only fighter on the roster that can make a legitimate claim for a shot at St-Pierre. However, if Hendricks falls to Jake Ellenberger in March or for some reason doesn’t get the next shot at St-Pierre, a title unification bout between St-Pierre and Marquardt seems like the most logical solution.

St-Pierre isn’t exactly a dream match-up for Marquardt, who has been dominated by strong wrestlers in Chael Sonnen and Yushin Okami, but a shot at a UFC belt is hard to come by.

Marquardt is getting a second chance at greatness by returning to the UFC, but if he plans on becoming a true contender for the welterweight belt, he has to make a statement against Tarec Saffiedine in Strikeforce’s send-off.

Photo: Nate Marquardt (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

About The Author

Vince Carey
Staff Writer

Vince Carey has been writing about the sport of mixed martial arts since 2010. Although he is just 21 years old, the Omaha-based writer is looking to provide readers with interesting content on all things related to MMA.