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Nate Marquardt: Potential Destinations and Fights for the Free Agent

Tim McTiernanCorrespondent IDecember 20, 2016

Nate Marquardt: Potential Destinations and Fights for the Free Agent

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    Nate Marquardt is a free agent once again.

    Marquardt's last fight was in March of 2010 against Dan Miller, a fight he won by unanimous decision.

    Then, Marquardt's next scheduled fight was supposed to be against Rick Story at UFC on Versus 4. However, the day before the fight, Marquardt was released from the UFC for abnormally high levels of testosterone.

    Marquardt then signed with the British fight organization BAMMA, and never ended up fighting for them.

    His debut was pushed back two times, and after the second time, he requested release from the organization, which was granted.

    Now that he's a free agent again, he has several options for his next potential organization and fight. Let's take a look at four potential destinations and several fights Nate Marquardt could take.

DREAM

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    First on the list is the Japanese-based organization DREAM.

    DREAM is an organization run by former PRIDE executives, and the K-1 promoter Fighting and Entertainment Group (FEG).

    Their most recent show took place on new year's eve, and was headlined by a bout between Fedor Emelianenko and Satoshi Ishii.

    DREAM averages about five shows per year, and all are based in Japan.

    Marquardt is no stranger to fighting in Japan, as he has fought almost half his fights—20 to be exact—in Japan.

Potential Fights

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    Ryo Chonan: Ryo Chonan is a welterweight with a 20-13 professional record. Chonan is also a UFC veteran, having gone 1-3 in the organization. Chonan is known to most fans as the guy that pulled off the awesome flying scissor heel hook on Anderson Silva.

    Kazushi Sakuraba: A win over Kazushi Sakuraba may not mean as much as it used to, but having a name like that on your resume is always nice.

    Marius Zaromskis: Marius Zaromskis is the current DREAM welterweight champion, and was most recently in the news for his crazy somersault kick knockout victory. This would be a great matchup of kickboxers.

    Gerald Harris: Should Marquardt have any interest in moving back up to middleweight, a fight against the former UFC fighter and two-time Knockout of the Night winner Gerald Harris would be interesting.

Bellator

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    Bellator Fighting Championships is where title shots are earned, not given.

    Bellator has a tournament format, with the winner of each respective weight class receiving a title shot with the reigning champ.

    It would likely be too late for Marquardt to join the welterweight tournament field for this season, but he could probably still join the middleweight field.

    Bellator has also been known to do non-title fights in order to keep champions busy during tourney time.

Potential Fights

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    Hector Lombard: Hector Lombard is the current middleweight champ of Bellator and has made it clear in the past that he is interested in a fight with Marquardt. Both fighters are known for their striking, and this would make for a great fight.

    Ben Askren: Ben Askren is the current welterweight champion in Bellator and he has made it known that he is interested in a fight with, well, everyone. Askren is a former Olympian in wrestling, and this would be a classic striker vs. grappler matchup.

    Anyone En Route to a Title Shot: Should Marquardt enter a tournament for Bellator, there is a who's who of fighters he could potentially face. Alexander Shlemenko is one name that jumps out.

Strikeforce

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    Strikeforce is one of the top organizations in MMA today and houses several top-tier fighters.

    Strikeforce has solid competitors in both the welterweight and middleweight divisions, several of which would prove solid tests and exciting fights for Nate Marquardt.

    This is seen by many as a viable option for Marquardt since he would be under ZUFFA control again and would still be in a top organization.

    Then, when the UFC sees it fit, they could bring Marquardt back into the fold as a possible Strikeforce champion.

Potential Fights

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    Tyron Woodley: Tyron Woodley is an undefeated welterweight looking for a shot at the vacant Strikeforce title. Right now, the only other man who could face Woodley for that belt is Tarec Saffedine, whom Woodley has already beaten. Marquardt gives him an immediate challenge for the belt.

    Paul Daley: As a fellow UFC exile, Nate Marquardt vs. Paul Daley has been talked about since the moment Marquardt was let go by the UFC. Previously discussed as a matchup under the BAMMA banner, but now it is possible that it could take place in Strikeforce.

    Luke Rockhold: The current Strikeforce middleweight champ, Luke Rockhold is looking for a UFC contender to come over and challenge for his belt, because after Tim Kennedy, there isn't much left for him. Marquardt may not be a UFC contender anymore, but I doubt Rockhold would be upset about the matchup.

    Tim Kennedy: Tim Kennedy is arguably the No. 2 middleweight in Strikeforce and is considered by some to be a top 10 middleweight in general. Kennedy is a well-rounded fighter, and as far as fights outside the UFC go, this would be a good one for Marquardt.

UFC

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    It's always possible that the UFC re-signs Nate Marquardt.

    Marquardt was always a good fighter for them, he just had one big mistake that screwed Dana White.

    Should Marquardt come back, he'll go right back to where he was, as a top fighter in the middleweight division ready to make his welterweight debut.

Potential Fights

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    Too Many To List: Should Marquardt return to the UFC, there are far too many opponents that he could fight to list here. If he wants to go to middleweight, he has endless choices. And if he wants to fight at welterweight, he has even more choices.

     

    Look for Marquardt to decide where he's going sooner rather than later. He's going to want to fight as soon as possible.

     

    What do you think? Somewhere else Marquardt could land? Let's hear it in the comments.

    Tim McTiernan is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. For the latest news on everything MMA, follow me on twitter @TimMcTiernan.

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