by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
The middleweights were on display at UFC 95 in London on Saturday night, as both Nate Marquardt and Demian Maia made impressive statements with victories over top competition on the event’s main card.

Ever since losing to champion Anderson Silva almost two years ago, Marquardt has worked harder and harder with each fight to make his way back to another shot at the 185-pound championship. The Colorado resident took a huge step forward with a third round stoppage over American Top Team standout Wilson Gouveia.

Marquardt controlled the pace throughout the bout with crisp striking that Gouveia never seemed to time right, and the Team Jackson fighter did a good job of mixing up punches, kicks and knees to keep his stand-up fresh throughout.

Taking Gouveia down in both the first and second rounds, Marquardt showed a tremendous ground game to compliment his stand-up, as he was able to unload a barrage of elbows on the Brazilian, who could only defend and never threw any kind of submission attempt at the former “King of Pancrase.”

It was the third round that saw Marquardt take over, as Gouveia started to look winded and Nate the Great took quick advantage. As the two exchanged strikes in the middle of the Octagon, Marquardt again mixed things up, throwing a beautiful flying knee that sent Gouveia flying backwards against the cage.

Knowing that his opponent was hurt, Marquardt absolutely opened up throwing a high kick, spinning back fist, another right hand, and a couple of knees that sent Gouveia to the mat for the last time in the fight as the referee stepped in to stop the punishment.

Now 7-2 in the UFC, Marquardt feels that it’s his time to get back in the title hunt and he’s gunning for the 185-pound champion.

“It’s not going to be a rematch,” Marquardt said about another shot at champion Anderson Silva. “Because the Nate you saw tonight is not the Nate that fought for the title. It’s going to be my first time.”

Demian Maia continued the undefeated streak in both his career and his time in the UFC as the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion made quick work for former top WEC middleweight Chael Sonnen, getting the win by triangle choke.

Sonnen did a good job early on, staying out of Maia’s ground game, using his tremendous wrestling background to counter the Brazilian’s takedown attempts. As Maia continued to stalk Sonnen, he eventually pressed the action against the cage where he was able to get an underhook on his opponent’s arm and executed a brilliant throw and trip takedown.

Transitioning almost immediately while still holding onto the underhook on Sonnen’s arm, Maia made a fluent move to lock on a triangle choke. The Team Quest fighter tried to maneuver his way out of the hold, but Maia tightened the choke and Sonnen was forced to tap out.

“I was surprised even because I put him down and he’s such a good wrestler,” Maia said after the win. “I just have the title in my mind. I think now I want the title shot. I want to show the world the jiu-jitsu.”

With the win, Maia moves to 5-0 in the UFC and likely a bout in his near future against a top ten level opponent that will test how close exactly he is to title contention.