Not too long ago, UFC middleweight king Anderson Silva proclaimed that once he’s done dismantling the 185-pound division, Nate Marquardt would step-in and be the weight class’ next ‘Anderson Silva.’ Although “The Spider” already anointed his heir apparent, Chael Sonnen apparently had other ideas.
“I think the next champion of this category will be Nate Marquardt,” Silva told TATAME.com earlier this year. “If I’m not over with the belt, I believe Nate will be the next champion at 185-pounds, the next guy to win for a long, long time this way.”
Prior to his lopsided unanimous decision loss to Sonnen on Saturday at “UFC 109: Relentless,” Marquardt held an impressive 29-8-2 record and had won four of his last five bouts. His sole blemish during the run came in a controversial split decision loss to Thales Leites at UFC 85, which Marquardt had well under control but was deducted penalty points on two separate occasions for illegal strikes.
Silva wasn’t the only one to believe Marquardt was on the cusp of greatness as most MMA pundits thought he earned a rematch against Silva after it took him all of 21 seconds to put the previously-unbeaten Demian Maia to sleep at UFC 102, and fellow top contender Dan Henderson bolted for Strikeforce.
However UFC president Dana White’s insistence on pitting Silva against former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort at UFC 112 forced Marquardt to take a “filler fight” against Sonnen until a title shot became available.
Although Sonnen had won four of his previous five entering the contest, the Team Quest-trained fighter wasn’t able to finish-off any of those opponents, which presented the normally-uber aggressive Marquardt ample opportunity to make quick work of the wrestler.
Instead, Sonnen chose to put on the most impressive performance of his career and shocked the mixed martial arts world by leapfrogging into the middleweight top contender spot. Despite being more than a 3-to-1 favorite to win the scrap, Marquardt was the one that appeared unsure and gun-shy.
“I let him take control of the takedowns, and that was the key,” Marquardt said after the fight. “I got caught trying to slug with him, and that gave him the opening to shoot.”
Sonnen didn’t just take charge of their matchup, he is now dictating the direction of his career. Right now, all signs point to a 5Round title affair against either Silva or Belfort, either way, Sonnen’s ready.
“I think I can beat any man God ever made,” Sonnen stated after his emotional victory.
Sure, but can you beat a Spider???