by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com (Photo courtesy of Tessa Marquardt)
“I’m going to take the belt. That’s all there is to it.”

These are the words that Ultimate Fighting Championship’s PR machine wanted to hear a year and a half ago… but they didn’t. These were the words that 7-time Middleweight King of Pancrase Nate Marquardt was supposed to say when he debuted in the main event of the UFC’s first live Fight Night show on Spike TV.

Those words didn’t come from Marquardt’s mouth a year and half ago because he’s not a trash talker. “That’s not trash talking,” says a confident Marquardt. “I see holes in his game and while I’m sure he sees holes in mine, I know I have the best team.”

These are statements that just couldn’t have come from Marquardt at that time, but are coming forth now as he is on the cusp of his first UFC title shot. While he established himself as a world-class fighter in Pancrase, he wasn’t near the fighter that he is today. “I did really well, but Pancrase is where I got my experience, where I learned to fight. But I think what I’m doing now is much better than what I was doing in my Pancrase fights. I’m more proud of what I’m doing now than what I was able to do in Pancrase.”

The difference? His team. When Marquardt made the jump to the UFC, he also made the jump to Greg Jackson’s fight team in New Mexico where he trains with Keith Jardine, Diego Sanchez, Rashad Evans, Joey Villasenor, and many other top fighters.

Greg Jackson is known for producing some of the most well-rounded fighters in the sport today and that is what Marquardt sees as his advantage heading in to challenge UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva on July 7th, his training and his team. “We have very different styles and that’s why it’s going to be a very exciting fight… but I know I have training partners that are better, so he won’t have any surprises for me.”

Marquardt does talk with a more confident tone than when he made his UFC debut, but he still carries that talk with an air of respect. “I respect Anderson, he’s very skilled. From what I can see, he’s the best 185-pound fighter in the UFC… aside from me.”

Marquardt is currently the #8 Middleweight in the MMAWeekly Rankings, while Silva is the #2 Middleweight in the MMAWeekly Rankings.

Marquardt’s confidence is always there now, but that’s not to say that Marquardt has lost his perspective of the task before him. “It’s an honor for me. It’s a childhood dream, really. At the same time, I’ve been here before. I’ve been in the UFC before. I’ve been in the title fights before. So I’m not going to get too excited until afterwards.”