Nate Marquardt finds himself one fight away from a second title shot in the UFC, and perhaps a chance to rematch Anderson Silva, when he takes on Yushin Okami this Saturday at UFC 122. This is the second time in 2010 that Marquardt’s had this opportunity, but he came up short in February when he lost to Chael Sonnen at UFC 109. But Marquardt said that loss helped him regain focus in his career.
“After I lost to Chael, I realized maybe I’d lost some desire and my focus to be champion,” Marquardt said in a pre-UFC 122 teleconference late last week. “Now I have that back fully, and I feel very prepared and ready. It feels the same as when I was a kid. I want to be champ, and I’m one step away.
“The Chael fight reignited that desire. I feel like I lost to a guy I should have beaten, and it makes me mad at myself. Against Chael, I didn’t follow my game plan. Maybe it’s a balancing act; following the game plan and going for the finish 100 percent.”
Now, Marquardt faces another tough fighter known for his grappling and wrestling ability, but Marquardt says Okami is a different fighter than Chael.
“Yushin has quite a bit different style from Chael,” he said. “He has a different body type, he uses different takedowns and his ground game is different.”
Okami has also been defeated by Sonnen, but Marquardt says he’s not really going to utilize the video of the fight between those two in his preparation, as his style as well differs from Sonnen.
“Chael is a different style of fighter than I am,” he said. “I’m going to be looking for openings to finish the fight. Even if I did see something in [the tape of their fight], it’s not going to help me that much. Chael fought him totally different than how I’m going to fight him. There are several of Yushin’s fights that I’ve watched that were much more valuable for me.”
While there is some concern amongst fans of the possibility of a tentative, and perhaps boring fight, such as Okami has become – fairly or unfairly – associated with, Marquardt says a tentative, counter-striking Okami works into his gameplan just fine.
“I fight best when I look for openings and capitalize and go for the finish 100 percent. That’s when I do the most damage,” he said. “If he’s just going to wait on me, that’s going to make my fight a lot easier. If he’s not going to attack me, then he’s going to be in trouble, and he’s going to lose the fight. Waiting for an opening doesn’t necessarily mean countering. I have to fight smartly to create openings and then capitalize.”