UFC 109: Nate Marquardt Vs Chael Sonnen - middleweight bout
Nate Marquardt 2/7, Chael Sonnen 12/5.
Nate Marquardt finds another hurdle put in front of him in his goal of having a second crack at middleweight champion Anderson Silva in the shape of Chael Sonnen. Marquardt's last fight against Demian Maia, hotly anticipated at least by this writer, ended in just 21 seconds via brutal knockout, and this was expected to be a sufficiently strong performance to see him awarded top contender status.
However, previous UFC light-heavyweight title holder Vitor Belfort's return to the promotion saw Marquardt pushed down a rung, and he must now dispense of Sonnen to get his shot. Prior to his defeat of Maia, Marquardt fought Wilson Gouveia, ending the fight with a Streetfighter-esque combination of knees, kicks, punches, and even a spinning back fist. He is undoubtedly one of the top contenders, but will be looking to finish this fight in similar style to cement his position as the next title challenger.
The vastly experienced, 29 and 8 Marquardt lost by KO in the first round of his previous title shot; the brutal fists of Silva ending his night early. Since then, three time King of Pancrase Nate has become a more rounded fighter, under the tutelage of Greg Jackson and will hope to make light work of Sonnen.
Marquardt is a big middleweight at 6'1 and will expect to control where the fight goes against Sonnen, who comes in after beating the highly-rated Japanese fighter Yushin Okami. Okami is a big, strong wrestler but Sonnen was able to control his position and may yet surprise Marquardt with his ability in the clinch and on the ground.
Marquardt has ability in every area of the fight game; submitting Jeremy Horn, TKO-ing Martin Kampmann, and taking decisions over Shonie Carter, Yves Edwards and Ivan Salaverry, so the onus is on Sonnen to come up with the game plan.
His best chance of success lies in avoiding Nate's strikes, looking to clinch and dirty box, while trying for a takedown. Keeping Nate on his back for two out of the three rounds seems his only path to victory, and his wrestling is certainly sufficiently credentialed, and his man-handling of Okami suggests this is a possibility. However, Marquardt is a BJJ black belt and won't be panicked on the mat. His training in the Greg Jackson camp with George St. Pierre, Rashad Evans, and numerous up and coming fighters suggests Marquardt will have left nothing to chance in his preparation for this match up and will come into the Octagon in peak physical condition.
Sonnen's price of 12/5 reflects the disparity between these two fighters in terms of reputation within the UFC, and for good reason. Whilst Chael is undoubtedly on his way up, Marquardt has shown on numerous occasions his complete skill set and earned his position at the top of the contender tree.
I expect this to be a second or third round KO/ TKO win for Nate, I feel he has too much power for Sonnen and will get through some tricky positions on the mat to land strikes and force the stoppage. Those who prefer an outsider can look at Sonnen's record of 24 and 10, and his wins over Okami, Dan Miller, and Paulo Filho to support their faith in him and certainly he showed vast improvement in beating Okami. However, I think this is a step too far for him and the value lies with Nate.