by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
In a pivotal match-up between top contenders in the middleweight division, Nate Marquardt looked devastating, as he took out Xtreme Couture fighter Martin Kampmann early in the first round of their fight at UFC 88 in Atlanta.

With Kampmann’s extensive background in kickboxing it seemed that Marquardt would want to take his opponent to the ground, but it was anything but a ground fight.

Marquardt threw a high kick that connected flush on Kampmann’s head, rocking the Danish fighter and sending him into a virtual daze.

Before Kampmann had any time to recover, Marquardt seized the moment, unloading a barrage of heavy punches including a big body shot that signaled for the end of the fight.

As soon as Kampmann dropped his hands, Marquardt landed a few more shots and “The Hitman” crumbled to the ground before the referee stepped in to stop the bout.

Following the fight, Marquardt was confident in his gameplan and his ability to stand and bang with a tough striker like Kampmann.

“I knew I was better, and though he was a kickboxer, I knew I could take him standing,” said Marquardt after his devastating performance. “One thing that I learned from my experience is not to just go crazy when you get a guy hurt like that, but to be accurate.”

The win obviously puts Marquardt right back in the top contenders mix for future opponents of 185-pound king Anderson Silva, who defeated the former “King of Pancrase” in their fight in July 2007.