by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
At the upcoming Bushido 10 this weekend, Dan Henderson will be making his first appearance since winning Pride’s first ever Welterweight (183lbs) Grand Prix last year. Opposing him in his first fight of 2006 is veteran Pancrase fighter Kazuo Misaki.

Someone very familiar with Misaki, having faced him on numerous occasions in Pancrase, is current UFC contender Nathan Marquardt. Being one of the top 185lb fighters in the world Nate spoke to MMA Weekly to give his expert opinion on the fight, as well he discussed what’s going on in his own career of late.

“The number one thing is that he’s super-tough,” replied Marquardt when asked about Misaki’s strengths. “He’s one of those kind of fighters that will never give up and will fight through anything. He’s pretty well-rounded, so just those things alone make him a really tough opponent.”

Nate continued, “He has really good counter-punching and good straight punches. His boxing is pretty decent. He’s pretty powerful and is decent on the ground. He’s really good on top on the bottom he is okay.”

When it comes to Dan Henderson, Marquardt feels that Dan should use the skills that got him to where he is in MMA.

“For Dan, since he’s a wrestler I’d say he’d probably try to take him (Misaki) down and ground ‘n pound him,” explained Nathan. “Dan has also very powerful punches but he’s a little bit wider than Misaki, so he might get caught with something down the pipe. So if I was Henderson I’d hit him with some hard punches then clinch right away and take him down.”

Marquardt added, “Misaki has a judo background, he’s decent in the clinch, but a good wrestler should be able to take him down and ground ‘n pound him. Dan has gone against some guys with better submissions and he’s done just fine, so I wouldn’t be too worried if I were him. Misaki has submissions, but his strong point is not when he’s on his back.”

As for what Kazuo should do against a world class wrestler such as Henderson, Marquardt feels that endurance could be the key to a Misaki victory.

“The biggest thing I would is attack is Dan’s gas tank, because that’s one of Misaki’s strengths and possibly one of Dan’s weaknesses,” said Nate. “I would try to wear him out, probably try to keep it standing and weather Dan’s explosive storms and when he starts to get tired, turn up the pace a little. Punch him a lot standing up, in the clinch do a lot of knees, and just work until you can get in that dominant position and go for a finish.”

As for the outcome Marquardt feels could happen between these two, while close, he gives an edge to the man with the belt.

“That’s actually really hard to call. Dan is a champion over there, he won that tournament, and Misaki is a super-tough guy, but I think though if Dan can catch him with one of those power shots it could be over. If Henderson can take him down, stay on top, ride it out and not gas out he can get a decision. But if you take Misaki lightly you’ll be in trouble, but I don’t think Dan will do that,” explained Nate.

Getting away from predictions and focusing on what’s been going on with his career, Marquardt is currently busy doing all the things he missed out on while preparing for his last fight, a unanimous decision victory over Joe Doerksen at UFC 58.

“Basically I’m just getting back into my off-season workouts,” commented Nate. “Just trying to get in the gym and get back into training and just hanging out with my family and stuff. The things I can’t do when I’m normally training.”

Speaking of his fight against Doerksen, while pleased he got the win, it wasn’t a performance that Nathan feels was perfect, as there are always things he feels he can improve upon for next time.

“I’m happy about it, a win’s a win, but at the same time I saw a few mistakes that I don’t normally make or maybe they’ve never been exposed before, so I have a lot to work on.” explained Marquardt.

While currently awaiting the UFC’s decision on whom he will face next, Nate will next make an appearance cornering Keith Jardine in his upcoming fight against Stephan Bonnar at Ultimate Fight Night next week.

“I’ll help him as much as possible,” said Marquardt. “I’m sure Kieth’s labeled as the underdog, but he shouldn’t be. It’s a very good match-up. He’s getting better every time he fights. He comes back and works on new stuff and is improving a lot. He’s definitely going to be a contender.”

Nathan closed out the conversation by saying, “Basically I’ve been training here at my gym High Altitude Martial Arts, working out with my boxing trainer; they’re both here in the Denver area. Obviously I’d like to plug Jackson’s Submission Academy too in Albuquerque, that’s my team, and as well as my Jiu-Jitsu trainer Ricardo Murgel.”

Marquardt concluded, “I’d like to thank my sponsors Tap Out and Tim Fields, he pays for all my travel back and forth to Albuquerque, it helps out a lot. I was really impressed with how the fans were supporting me, even during my layoff, and once I got back in there they were really happy. I got all sorts of good emails and stuff. I’m really happy to be fighting in the US and excited to get back in there.”

For more information on Nate’s High Altitude Martial Arts, please visit their official website www.highaltitudema.com.