UFC welterweight Rick Story is on a roll in the organization’s 170-pound division.
Fresh off his win over top contender Thiago Alves at UFC 130: Rampage vs. Hamill, Story took a couple days to rest, went back into training, and jumped at the opportunity to get right back into preparing for a fight by accepting a bout with former middleweight title contender Nate Marquardt. The bout will take place at UFC on Versus 4 on June 26.
Accepting a fight against top competition usually entails several weeks of training camp leading into the bout. Story, however, embraces jumping right into another marquee fight after having earned the biggest win of his career.
The cliche “no rest for the weary” would be appropriate in this instance, but Story says he’s far from tired. The welterweight says he’s already prepped and ready to go.
“I like fighting really consecutive (fights). I don’t like taking long layoffs,” Story told MMAWeekly.com. “When I (was first) a professional fighter, for the the first year or so, I had a bunch of fights; I had, like, a fight every month and I loved it because I never got out of shape and I was always learning. When you get out of shape, you’re just struggling to catch your breath and you can’t be in your perfect form all the time. But when you’re in shape, your’e in perfect form over, over and over. And you get those reps in and you get really good real quick. I like getting better quick and I like staying in shape.”
Some fighters may say they need to take a break after a fight, but not Story. Constant conditioning of the body is what he stays on top of, whether it’s in the gym or in the Octagon on fight night.
When the opportunity to fight Marquardt presented itself, Story was more than open to it. It matters not who stands in front of him when the time to fight comes, and the fact that Nate Marquardt, a former King of Pancrase, is his opposition on short notice doesn’t change anything.
“I don’t care, let’s do it,” he said when talking about his reaction to accepting the fight with Marquardt.
The pending fight at UFC on Versus 4 was not Story’s first choice, however. After winning his bout with Alves, Story made it clear that he wants to take on the next fighter up in the rankings; that fighter being, in his opinion, former Purdue Boilermaker Jon Fitch.
In speaking with MMAWeekly.com, Fitch recently said, “I’m at a point in my career where I need to be fighting main events and main event fighters. And if you don’t have a belt currently, or you haven’t owned a belt in the UFC, I’m not really interested.”
When hearing the comments from Fitch, Story just shrugs it off and doesn’t let it bother him. Fitch has to make choices to do what’s best for his career, and if those choices don’t include getting into a fight with Story, that’s just fine with the fighter out of the Northwest. As a matter of fact, Story sees the fight with Marquardt more suitable for his particular purpose and respects Fitch’s view.
“I think it’s more practical,” Story said when comparing the Marquardt fight versus one with Fitch. “Fitch, obviously, doesn’t want to fight because he doesn’t feel I’m a big enough name, so if he wants to be that way, I’ll fight Marquardt, I don’t care. But at this point, I want to get the title shot too. And I have to respect that Fitch is on, like, a nine-fight win streak and he wouldn’t want to fight guy a guy like me.”
Against Marquardt, Story will face a fighter that has been near the top of the food chain at middleweight. In 2007, he challenged current UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva for the title, but fell short in a TKO loss. In 2010, Marquardt was again in the mix for title contention before failing to get past Chael Sonnen and, later that year, Yushin Okami.
Popular opinion may show that Marquardt doesn’t quite get past the hump when he is in bigger ticket fights. Story says that might be a fair thing to say about his pending opponent.
“Based on his performances, I’d say that’s a fair assessment because you’re only as good as your last performances,” he said. “(If) you have a couple bad performances against the top guys, that solidifies your spot (until) you decide to do something and break through and prove everyone wrong.”
Against Story, Marquardt will find himself testing an opponent who’s confidence is growing ever so larger by the day. It’s this type of confidence that helps Story climb the ranks of the welterweight division and mark his territory as someone to keep an eye on in the UFC’s 170-pound division. And the story continues as the fighter out of Brave Legion prepares to do battle with Nate Marquardt at UFC on Versus 4.
“I belong,” Story said of himself in reference to the top welterweights. “I’m at a place in my career where I should be.”