by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com

Earning a shot at the UFC middleweight title and a rematch
against Anderson Silva is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for No. 2
ranked fighter Nate Marquardt, but he understands that looking too far ahead
could trip him up.


That’s exactly the mindset Marquardt is carrying into his
UFC 109 match-up against Chael Sonnen, who is a top ten middleweight himself,
and he knows that looking past Sonnen could cost him.


"I have to be in it mentally 100 percent to beat
him," Marquardt said when appearing on MMAWeekly Radio recently.  "I believe I’m better than him in
all aspects of the game, but it’s one of those things, if I take him lightly
and make too many mistakes, he’s very good at controlling the fight."


He is quick to point out many of Sonnen’s talents going into
this fight, and the Colorado native obviously respects the danger Sonnen presents
when they step into the Octagon on Saturday night.


"He’s definitely a very tough guy.  I don’t think he’s super well known,
but he’s definitely one of the best fighters at 85," Marquardt commented.  "He beat Paulo Filho and Yushin
Okami, who are both top ten ranked guys. 
He has a great wrestling background, his striking has come along, he
definitely can hang on his feet, and he has very good submission defense, good
ground and pound.  I think he’s a
very tough fighter, very game fighter."


It’s no secret that Sonnen comes from a wrestling background
and has worked with some of the best grappling coaches in the world at his time
at Team Quest in Oregon.  To Marquardt’s
credit, working with wrestlers like Shane Carwin and Rashad Evans have put him
in a different skill set than a few years back when he was known more for his
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt than his striking prowess.


"I feel like I was always a dominant striker, but then
I would get taken down and I’d end up submitting guys," he said.


If Marquardt gets past Sonnen, he’s already stated the UFC
has promised him a shot at the middleweight belt and he’s excited for that
opportunity, but Marquardt knows getting past Chael Sonnen is the first stop in
the road back to another shot at Anderson Silva.


"It’s evident that I’ve grown a lot as a fighter and it
will be a different fighter in there," Marquardt said talking about a
potential rematch with Silva. 
"It’s not really a rematch, it’s a whole new fighter."


First things first, Marquardt faces Chael Sonnen at UFC 109
in Las Vegas on Feb. 6.