by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
Nate “Rock” Quarry won a unanimous decision over Canadian fighter Kalib Starnes at UFC 83. He also won over a lot of fans for his performance and in-Octagon antics during what turned out to be one of the most bizarre fights in Ultimate Fighting Championship history.
Following his bout with Rich Franklin at UFC 56, Quarry underwent back surgery to repair disc damage from a degenerative condition that resulted in having several vertebra fused together. Many thought his fighting career was over. Defying the odds, he returned nearly two years later at UFC Fight Night 11 with a knockout victory over Pete Sell.
Following his successful comeback, Quarry requested a bout with Kalib Starnes. The bout was turned down by Starnes’ camp. “When I called Joe Silva at first to make my comeback in the UFC, I just thought (Starnes’) style would be perfect for mine and it would be a good warm-up fight for me,” Quarry told MMAWeekly.
“(Silva) contacted his camp and the response was, ‘No. We don’t want that fight. He just lost. We just won, so he doesn’t deserve to fight us.’ At that moment I just kind of made a mental note that some day I’m going to give you a beating if at all possible.”
His opportunity came at UFC 83, but Starnes refused to engage, leaving the crowd and Quarry puzzled. “It was very frustrating for me,” said Quarry. “I walked right out of the ring and walked up to Dana White and told him how sorry I was that I wasn’t able to finish the fight. I told Joe Silva the exact same thing. Both of them said what every fan has been saying to me, that I went and gave everything that I had. I pushed the fight as much as I could. It’s just very hard to get something done when someone is running away from you for fifteen minutes.”
The fight played out with Quarry moving forward, throwing punches and Starnes retreating. Asked about Starnes’ offense during the match, Quarry commented, “Thinking of strikes that he landed, he landed one jab to my forehead. When I slipped, or he caught my leg off of a kick, I don’t remember what it was, when I was trying to stand up he unloaded a pretty good barrage of punches. None of them really did any damage. I know he head-butted me right off the get-go in the first round, head-butted me right in the teeth. I think he head-butted me a couple of more times. He kneed me, just missed my junk and poked me in the eyes once. Other than that it was pretty good for me.”
As the fight went on, the frustration mounted for Quarry and the crowd began to voice their displeasure chanting, “boring, boring.” In the final round Quarry reacted by taunting Starnes.
“It was massive frustration and I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful at all,” stated Quarry. “I didn’t really want to mock him, but at the same time I think when you’re presented with a situation like that you’ve got one of two ways to address it. One is to get really angry, start screaming, yelling and cussing at him, or the other is to just kind of mock him.
“I just decided to make light of the situation and be like, hey man, this is what I’m seeing. I’m seeing a running man. That just came to me out of nowhere. When there were ten seconds left I just said to myself, all right, I’m calling the technique the rock-hammer. I don’t know if that name will stick or not.”
Quarry continued, “I was just like, okay, he’s just going to run away from me. For ten seconds I’m going to do this and maybe, just maybe he’ll step in and try to hit me and we’ll see what happens. When I’m doing that, he’s still running away from me backwards. It was just unbelievable to me.”
By the end of the bout, Quarry had won over the Canadian crowd. “I knew that the Canadian fans at first it would be kind of a nationalistic thing, but with our sport and the fans that we have, at the end of the day, they’re cheering for who the fighter is,” said the Oregon native. “If both fighters came to fight, we both would have gotten a huge standing ovation, but as it was they could see who came to really fight and to win.
“One of my buddies that was there watching the fight said that when the fight started the crowd was really into it and they were excited to see a Canadian fight. By the end of the first round, they were kind of like what the hell is going on? Through the second round, they were just kind of disgusted and booing. In the third round, when I started making light of the situation, everyone was like, okay, now we can get back to enjoying this. This is great.”