No matter what great heights an athlete achieves in his chosen endeavor, at the end of the day, he is human, with human frailties and faults. Every athlete ages, every athlete makes mistakes, every athlete stumbles… yes, even UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
This is nothing new to Nate Marquardt, who has fallen at the hands of the man that is widely considered the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Though he stumbled against Silva when they met at UFC 73, Marquardt doesn’t elevate the middleweight kingpin to quite the same heights as the media has. It wouldn’t be in the best interests of his career goal – to win the UFC middleweight title – to do so.
“It’s been known to me for a long time that Anderson had holes in his game,” Marquardt said during a UFC 122 media call on Friday. “If anything, (Chael Sonnen nearly beating Silva at UFC 117) was more of an eye-opening event for the media because they put him on this pedestal like he was unbeatable.”
Silva has, however, been just that, unbeatable, since he set foot in the Octagon more than four years ago. He has ripped through fighters like Chris Leben, Rich Franklin, Marquardt, Dan Henderson, and Forrest Griffin. He’s also managed decisions or late-round victories over Thales Leites, Demian Maia, and Chael Sonnen, the latter of which took him to the brink of defeat.
Yet, even with Sonnen’s numerous takedowns and relentless ground and pound, Silva found a way to win. But that performance did open the eyes of many to what Marquardt says he already new… Silva is human.
“Chael was able to expose, obviously, that he’s susceptible to takedowns, susceptible to ground and pound, and even that if someone lands a punch on him, he can get wobbled. If anything, it was more eye-opening for the media, not for me,” Marquardt affirmed.
That’s not to say that “Nate The Great” feels Silva hasn’t earned his spot at the top of the heap, just that he believes he can be knocked from his lofty perch. But bringing Silva crashing to the ground isn’t his primary objective.
“For me, the most important thing is to get the title fight and fight the champion. That’s my dream is to become the champion. For me, it doesn’t necessarily matter who it is, but at the same time, I would definitely prefer it to be Silva (instead of Vitor Belfort) just because he has been the champion for so long, and he’s proven to be the top of the division.”
If Nate Marquardt defeats Yushin Okami at UFC 122 next week and Silva defends his belt from Belfort at UFC 126, Marquardt will once again step into the Octagon with the man that derailed his first attempt at UFC gold.