by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com

Top UFC middleweight contender Nate Marquardt failed in his
first attempt to wrest the title from current champion Anderson Silva. But that
was a different Nate Marquardt, a weaker Nate Marquardt.


At least that’s how he sees it.


“I’ve improved technically. Physically I’m stronger, better,
and faster,” Marquardt
told MMAWeekly.com
. “The main thing for me is that I’m stronger mentally
going into the fight and I’m more dangerous because I’m looking to finish my


On the surface, finishing an opponent sounds like a given
for a fighter, but that’s not always so. Sometimes a fighter can “play it safe,”
maybe trying more or less not to lose than trying to win.


“I think for a while I was fighting to not lose. I was
fighting conservatively because I didn’t want to over-commit and get caught,”
Marquardt recalls of his earlier fights in the UFC. “But I think that’s not how
I fight best. I fight better when I go out aggressive and I take chances.”


Saying that he definitely fought a more conservative style
in his first go around with Silva, Marquardt felt he’d already earned a return
trip to face the champ. After a split decision stumble against Thales Leites –
points deducted from Marquardt for fouls swung the bout in the Brazilian’s
favor – he has strung together TKO or knockout finishes of Martin
Kampmann, Wilson Gouveia, and highly ranked Demian Maia.


He will instead face fellow contender Chael Sonnen next week
at UFC 109, a title shot hanging in the balance, while Vitor Belfort gets the
next crack at Silva at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi in April.


“I felt like I deserved the shot, but at the same time, I
don’t think (Belfort) doesn’t deserve it,” said Marquardt calmly. “If he shows
up, he’s gonna give Anderson a good fight and could possibly catch him and
knock him out.”


That’s not necessarily what he’d like to see happen.
Marquardt would rather avenge the earlier loss to Silva himself, but in the
end, avenging the loss isn’t his ultimate goal. Mining UFC gold is the end


“For me, I want to get the belt back from Anderson, but at
the same time, if Vitor beats him, that’d be great. I’d be happy to fight
Vitor. I just want to make sure I’m fighting the champion.”


Marquardt talks about rebuilding, Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort, and getting
another shot at the title in this exclusive video interview.)