by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com

To be the top contender
in the UFC’s middleweight division, fighters have to travel a tough road to get
close to champion Anderson Silva. 
Working his way back to a rematch with Silva may be even tougher, but
that’s exactly what Nate Marquardt
is striving for when he steps into the cage Saturday night to fight rising
185-pound star Wilson Gouveia at UFC 95 in London.


Having moved past his
loss to Silva in July 2007, Marquardt has never been shy about his desire to
get back to the title shot.  One
way that seems almost flawless is to be a coach on "The Ultimate Fighter."

While the upcoming season already has leaders in Dan Henderson and Michael
Bisping, it was Marquardt who was hoping for his shot on the show.


"I wanted to do it
and I think the UFC was considering me, but things happen, they have their
reasoning’s," Marquardt said about The Ultimate Fighter season nine.
"I’m happy with what I have now. 
I’m sure that’s still a possibility for the future."


Never one to focus on
the past, he now looks towards a bright future, one that became even brighter
after a first round drubbing of former middleweight contender Martin Kampmann
in September 2007.  Now he’s ready
to continue the path that leads him back to the title, but his eyes never stray
from the mission at hand.


"All I’m really
doing is focusing on what’s in front of me now," Marquardt said about his
fight against Gouveia.  "I’ve
got a tough fight ahead of me now and as long as I stay focused everything will
fall in place."


Since dropping to the
middleweight division, Gouveia has won his last two in a row, most recently
dispatching of Jason MacDonald in December 2007.  Marquardt was happy with the choice in opponent and he knows
what a tough customer Gouveia can be.


"I was
excited.  He came off a couple of
big wins and he’s kind of a big name right now in the middleweights, so I’m
excited," Marquardt said about his opponent.


Training with some of
the best in the world at Team Jackson, the former seven-time King of Pancrase
knows that Gouveia is also getting top-notch instruction at his camp at
American Top Team.  While admitting
that his opponent trains with great fighters, Marquardt is more concerned with
what he’s going to do in the fight.


"I know my
training and all I really care about is my training," Marquardt stated.
"Every fight I want to fight the best opponent I can, so I hope Wilson
shows up in shape cause I know I’m going to be in shape."


Marquardt had a
familiar cast of fighters working in his camp that traveled from his home in
Colorado to New Mexico and all the way to Montreal.  Georges St. Pierre, Rashad Evans, Keith Jardine, Joey
Villasenor, Shane Carwin, and others let Marquardt know that he’s got a family
beside him when it comes time to fight.


"We’re like
brothers," he said about his teammates.


With the training camp
winding down, Marquardt closed out his camp at home in Denver before packing up
and heading overseas to England. Even though he’ll be the only one fighting
Gouveia in the cage, he will have almost his entire team there on Saturday
night to support him as he takes another step towards a return shot at the UFC
middleweight title.


UFC 95 VIDEO: Nate
Marquardt UFC 95 Pre-Fight Interview


UFC 95 VIDEO: Neil
Grove UFC 95 Pre-Fight Interview