Nate Marquardt will be making his highly anticipated welterweight debut this Sunday at UFC Live: Marquardt vs Story.
It is very important for Nate to win this fight. It's his first fight in the already stacked welterweight division, so he is going to want to make a big statement right off the bat.
Marquardt's opponent will be Rick Story, who is a rising star in the division and is coming off of a big win over Thiago Alves. Rick is gaining popularity, but is still a relative unknown to many fans, so a loss for Nate would look really bad.
Story is a game opponent with a solid chin, an iron will and very good wrestling. He likes to push the pace and make his opponents work.
So, what does Marquardt need to do to be successful in his welterweight debut?
The most important thing he can do is come into this fight in good shape. Nate already looked ripped at middleweight, so he will need to handle the weight cut to 170 lbs. very carefully. If he gets too dehydrated and saps his cardio, Marquardt will be in huge trouble.
In terms of technical ability, Nate doesn't have much to worry about. I believe that Marquardt has the advantage wherever this fight goes. His striking and submission skills are definitely superior to Story's and, though some may be surprised to hear this, his wrestling is probably better too.
Some have speculated that wrestling is Nate's Achilles heel, citing his losses to Chael Sonnen and Yushin Okami.
First off, there's no shame in being out-wrestled by Chael, who is probably the greatest wrestler the middleweight division has ever seen.
Secondly, Nate actually out-wrestled Okami in their fight. The reason he lost was he was getting outclassed on the feet.
So, given that Marquardt is technically superior to Story anywhere this fight could go, all Nate really has to worry about is fighting smart.
He needs to circle away from Story, as opposed to moving straight back, in order to avoid the clinch. The clinch is where Story would have the best chance of tiring Nate out.
We saw in the third round of his fight against Thiago Alves that Story cannot hang with elite strikers. So, if Marquardt can keep this one on the feet, he should win handily.
In summary, Nate needs to avoid the clinch, move side to side instead of moving back, dictate the pace and use his wrestling to keep the fight standing. If he does all that, he will definitely have a successful welterweight debut.