James Te Huna will make his middleweight debut against Nate Marquardt in the main event of the UFC’s first trip to New Zealand on June 28. UFC officials announced the match-up and the event on Monday. The event will take place at Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.
Te Huna (16-7) will be dropping down from the light heavyweight division to the 185-pound weight class after losing back-to-back fights. The New Zealander made his promotional debut in February 2010 while riding a five-fight winning streak. He defeated Igor Pokrajak by technical knockout in the third round. He was lined up against Alexander Gustafsson in his second UFC bout at UFC 127 and lost by submission in the opening round.
Following the loss to Gustafsson, Te Huna put together a four-fight winning streak and was rising up the ranks to contender status. His streak came to an end when he faced Glover Teixeira at UFC 160. The 32-year-old was then matched up against former champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in December and was knocked out.
Marquardt (32-13-2) will be returning to the middleweight division after a two-year stint at 170 pounds. In 2007, Marquardt made a run at the UFC middleweight title, but came up short against Anderson Silva in the title fight. He couldn’t quite get back to the top contender position. He earned two shots at getting another title fight, but was defeated by Chael Sonnen and Yushin Okami in title eliminator bouts. The 34-year-old rebounded in his next outing, defeating Dan Miller by unanimous decision.
Following the win over Miller, Marquardt decided to drop to the welterweight division. He was expected to face Rick Story on June 26, 2011, but was forced out of the fight the day of weigh-ins due to not receiving medical clearance. He was then released by the UFC.
He made his welterweight debut against Tyron Woodley in the Strikeforce promotion for the vacant welterweight title on July 14, 2012. He knocked Woodley out to capture the title. It was Marquardt’s last win. After losing his last three fights, Marquardt will return to the middleweight division against Te Huna.