Nate Marquardt was looking to UFC 182 in Las Vegas on Saturday night to keep his middleweight return running high and add to the victory he scored by returning to 185 pounds last summer.
By contrast, his opponent, Brad Tavares, was just trying to put back-to-back losses in the rearview mirror.
The opening round played out in an extended feeling out process. Tavares looked confident, maintaining the center of the Octagon and keeping the fight mostly where he wanted it, using his jab to set up a mix of punch combinations and kicks. Marquardt was more aggressive in looking for a way to get inside on Tavares, but ate several counter punches from the Hawaiian.
Marquardt managed a solid front kick to the face, but Tavares returned the favor just before the horn at the end of the round.
The second round only saw things get better for Tavares, who mounted a lot of damage with his jab and kicks to Marquardt’s lead leg.
Marquardt really started to slow down in round two, unable to score the takedowns he was after and succumbing to the mounting damage he was taking.
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Tavares didn’t slow down in the third. In fact, he stepped the pace up a bit, but stuck to the game plan, using his jab to keep Marquardt at bay and to set up solid punch combinations and leg kicks.
Tavares mixed things up late in the final round, going high with a couple kicks that landed on the tiring Marquardt, and cementing the victory.
All three judges scored the fight 30-27 for Tavares, who moved to 13-3 and ended a two-fight skid, while Marquardt dropped to 33-14-2.