Nate Marquardt’s been here before.
As UFC 122 approaches, Marquardt prepares during the final hours leading into his No. 1 contender’s bout against Yushin Okami with one single, solitary purpose in mind. Win in the main event, because without that nothing else matters. Most would think his goal would be the UFC gold, but he’s learned that looking to far ahead can cost you in the present.
This isn’t Marquardt’s first rodeo when it comes to a No. 1 contender’s bout.
Not long ago, Marquardt was in the same position as he faced Chael Sonnen in a fight that would determine who would get the next shot against UFC champion Anderson Silva. Marquardt came up short on that night and had to step back into the pack of challengers all scratching and clawing their way towards the top of that ladder.
While a failed drug test ended up knocking Sonnen out of a potential second shot at Silva, Marquardt now sits on the precipice of getting back to the title shot, but he’s learned his lesson from past experiences.
While the long-term goal is still to get back to a shot at the belt, his focus must stay solely on Yushin Okami, or he could face another tough setback like he did earlier in 2010.
“The main thing is to really focus on the fight and do what I have to do to win,” Marquardt told MMAWeekly Radio. “The fact that it’s for a title fight, I wouldn’t say that it adds pressure, but it’s definitely very important to me. I can guarantee I’m going to do my best.”
It’s that single minded purpose that keeps Marquardt on point against a very dangerous opponent in Yushin Okami. As tough as they come in the middleweight division, Okami has a style and approach that can confuse, frustrate, and simply take fighters out of their game.
It’s that very danger that Marquardt respects about his upcoming opponent, and why he can’t think past Saturday’s fight in Germany.
“Really you should just have one thing on your mind when you’re fighting a guy, and that’s the fight itself. I can’t look ahead,” Marquardt said. “I just have to be in the moment and just fight him as hard as I can.”
The challenge of facing a fighter as tough as Okami really is the best motivation for Marquardt. There’s a very short list of fighters that have been able to add a defeat to Okami’s record, but it’s that very challenge that gets Marquardt seething for a fight.
“I do my best when I’m fighting a guy I see as a threat,” he explained. “If I look at a guy and think ‘wow, I’m just going to walk through this guy’ I think I don’t do my best. For sure, this guy Okami is very tough, and I’ll be doing my best.”
Marquardt and Okami square off as the main event of UFC 122 in Germany on Saturday night.