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This is what Tyron Woodley has been waiting for, a shot at the belt. He will have to go through a man fresh off the UFC roster in Nate Marquardt.
Woodley has been unbelievable, a perfect 10-0 record. Sure, the last three have been by decision, but he’s getting the win and that is what counts. He utilizes his great wrestling technique and has been on a tear since signing with Strikeforce.
Marquardt is coming off a win over Dan Miller at UFC 128. Of course, the whole testosterone situation that came up and forced Marquardt out of the UFC has kept him out of the cage for over a year.
Ring rust is a myth to most fighters so don’t look for Marquardt to make any excuses. Marquardt is the veteran of the two and has a few good knockouts to his credit, including over Rousimar Palhares in September 2010 and Demian Maia in August 2009 (21-second knockout).
Marquardt is a great wrestler as well, but he will want to keep this one on the feet and not let Woodley anywhere comfortable. Woodley is crafty and will probably get Marquardt down once or twice, but for Marquardt, he probably feels he has more to prove after getting bumped from the UFC so he will be on his game, especially since there is a title involved.
We could be in for a long fight that goes the distance if both try and use the ground game, where they are both strong.
Marquardt def. Woodley via unanimous decision
The always-improving Woodley gets a shot at the vacant welterweight title, but I think he may be a bit out of his league in this one.
Marquardt is itching to make a statement and a quick return to the UFC and holding a Strikeforce belt would be a good way to get there. I see Marquardt using his better all-around striking game and veteran savvy to take a decision.
Marquardt via unanimous decision
Has anyone on the Strikeforce roster had a harder fall from grace than Nate Marquardt?
I think not. The former three-time King of Pancrase middleweight champion was released from the UFC last June, failing a drug test for the UFC on Versus 4 event hours before he was supposed to weigh-in for a bout against then-surging contender Rick Story.
This was also supposed to be The Great's welterweight debut. He later revealed to Ariel Helwani that he had been using testosterone replacement therapy since August of 2010.
That's relevant because Nate announced that he is no longer using TRT leading up to this fight, which is really strange. I heard TRT was a lifelong treatment, didn't you?
Oh yeah, and I almost forgot to mention that Marquardt signed with BAMMA for a few months—only to ask for a release after they kept pushing his debut back. In short, Marquardt last time in the cage was a decision win over Dan Miller in March 2011.
In my mind, this gives dominant wrestler Tyron Woodley an edge going into this fight. Marquardt has never been great under pressure (see his fights with Chael Sonnen and Yushin Okami) and Woodley knows how to apply non-stop pressure, even if it can be Jon Fitch-esque at times.
Woodley is a perfect 10-0 in MMA, though fans and judge's both mad an argument that he should have lost his fight against Jordan Mein in January as he took lay and pray to a new level. "T-Wood" was content to secure his takedowns and just smother Mein, not even considering ground-and-pound, guard passing and submission attempts. While he won by split decision, he needs a more complete performance than that against a guy like Marquardt.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say we will see vintage Woodley here and this will be a lot like Marquardt vs. Sonnen.
Tyron Woodley via unanimous decision
Tyron Woodley has been an impressive wet blanket in his last few fights. Apparently that was when he purchased the Jon Fitch how-to guide for putting a crowd to sleep. Nonetheless, wins are wins.
Nate Marquardt is going to be huge for welterweight, so it will be interesting to see how he performs in his new weight class. Although he has excellent takedown defense historically, his battle with Chael Sonnen showed that an elite wrestler can put him on his back repeatedly.
It's going to be difficult for Marquardt to dole out the kind of attack he wants to if he is stuck on his back.
Tyron Woodley by unanimous decision.