When Nate Marquardt climbed out of the cage at UFC 128, he shocked the MMA world, something you wouldn't normally expect from the soft spoken, down to earth Christian family man. Lip swollen grotesquely from a Dan Miller punch, a wound that would eventually require stitches, Marquardt was never the less feeling good. He had gone into the fight lighter than he ever had before - and he was considering a move down to the welterweight division.
"Really the only thing I would have to change would be becoming a little more strict on my diet," Marquardt said in an exclusive interview with Bloody Elbow Radio. "The week of the fight, starting the Saturday out, I'd really have to be dieting. At this point, all I did for my fight with Miller was diet for basically two and a half days and walked on weight. I didn't have to go in the sauna or anything. At 170 I'd have to be a lot more strict the week of the fight and I would have to get in the sauna."
Pundits were more than a little surprised. Well muscled and cut, one of the few MMA fighters with a bodybuilder's physique, Marquardt had never looked small or been over powered in a long and successful career at middleweight. But as his diet got cleaner year round and as he continued to work hard even between fights, it dawned on the Grudge Training Center fighter that he could easily drop a weight class, perhaps improving his chances of taking home a coveted UFC title.
"My goal has always been to get the title. And that's never going to change...I don't want to think about that, because then I'm putting pressure on myself. And it's something I want so much...I did put pressure on myself in a lot of my fights, because I wanted the belt so bad," Marquardt said. "I just put too much pressure on myself and it prevented me from fighting to my peak performance. That's something that I've worked on a lot and I felt great going into this fight."
At 185 pounds, Marquardt looks enormous. Many questioned his ability to make a cut to welterweight in the wake of his announcement. But dietician and nutritionist P.R. Cole, who has worked with Marquardt and other top fighters like Kenny Florian, says Marquardt's muscle mass actually makes a weight cut easier.
"When you look at people who are incredibly muscular, it tends to be easier for them to do a water cut because that muscle mass holds in so much water," Cole said. "Let's say you have two guys who are 180 pounds and want to get to 170. They may weight the same on the scale but if one guy has more muscle mass, the guy with muscle is going to have an easier time because he's swollen with water."