In April, Nate Quarry rebounded from the quickest loss in his career with a dominant first-round victory over Jason MacDonald. Now, the heavy-handed middleweight hopes to make it two in a row, but will need to stop the growing momentum of Tim Credeur, who is on a six-fight win streak. The two square off at UFC Fight Night on Sept. 16.
In this FanHouse interview, Quarry (11-3) candidly talks about the Credeur matchup, his disappointment in losing to Demian Maia, why he'd still take the Rich Franklin fight knowing it would end in infamy, and the best and worst parts of being a fighter at age 37.
Mike Chiappetta: Tim Credeur has a six-match win streak including three in a row in the UFC, but this is a step up in experience level for him. Do you think he's ready to take on someone with your experience level?
Nate Quarry: You know, I think it's a great fight with great timing. He is coming off a winning streak, and everything he's been doing, he's been successful at. This is a great opportunity to have a great fight for both of us.
And what about him as an opponent. In your last two fights you faced MacDonald and Maia. Nothing against Credeur, but he isn't as big a name as those two. Are you satisfied with him as an opponent?
You know, I look at every fight as the most important fight of my career. I'm not going to look past anyone. This is the way it goes. When I fought my first three fights in the UFC, I was eligible for a title fight. You fight, you continue winning and keep on moving up the ladder. And I know that's what he's looking to do against me.
His submission game has to be your biggest concern, right?
I'm looking all around at the whole thing but yeah, I think he considers himself more of a jiu-jitsu guy, but he's been so successful in his past few fights with striking. It's obvious he's been working with striking coaches and Forrest Griffin, and probably Xtreme Couture. He's looking to bring a full, complete game and that's what you need in today's UFC.
Give me your overall scouting report on him.
Really I just see a complete package. Someone that's consistently growing. Every one of his fights, he's not looking to sit back and win a decision. He's looking to finish fights, and that's what I like: an opponent that's going to go in there and mix it up with me. It's going to be exciting. I think it's going to be a lot of fun.
In your last fight, you easily handled MacDonald, who is usually a really durable fighter and tough to finish. Were you surprised with the level of your domination of that fight?
I go into my fights with no expectations. I think if you go in with expectations, if things don't go your way, it's easy to get flustered. I was looking the whole fight and thinking that I was going to finish this fight, bring my whole game and be aggressive. Once I got started, I wasn't going to stop when it was over.
And it was over quickly, in just about two minutes.
I was really pleased with that. I knew how tough and skilled MacDonald is. He finished Chris Leben, he finished Ed Herman. He'd gone to the second round with Rich Franklin and the third with Maia. I was actually amazed when UFC cut him after that fight because he's such a good fighter with a good fanbase. But when the ref jumped in and pulled me off him, I thought he was checking the cut, so I was kind of pissed off. I wanted to get back to work, but then I realized he'd waved it off.
Did you go into that match wanting to try to make a statement after your quick loss to Maia?
Well, I hope it made a statement. I always have people tell me I'm one of the most underrated fighters in the UFC. I don't consider myself that way because I don't put a lot of thought into that. But I have five knockouts now in the UFC. All my fights except for Kalib Starnes and Pete Sell were first-rounders, win or lose. I go into a fight really aggressive. Sometimes it gets the best of me, but most times it's worked out in my favor.
Do you think you'll modify your approach to lengthen your career?
No. That's what I want to do, that's what I enjoy doing. You don't become a legend by winning decisions. That's what fans want to see, that's what gets you bonuses, that's what feeds my family. I've seen a lot of fighters stay in the UFC with losing records because they were such exciting fighters who put it on line. I think that's what fans pay to see, want to see and relate to. On any given day, I'm going to bring the best game I possibly have. At least I can say, 'Win or lose, I did the best I could. What else I could have done?' That allows me to sleep at night.
Were you any more nervous than usual heading into the MacDonald fight since you were coming off a loss to Maia?
I'd say that I was. I generally go in with a high level of anxiety anyways. That's when I fight the best, is when I'm scared to death. I've never been one of those guys like Randy Couture, who goes in happy he can compete. Every time I do that, I get whupped on, because I need a high level of aggressiveness to go in and work my game. I do my best to psyche myself up. The week of the fight is pretty miserable for me and those around me, but that's how I compete at my best level.
I was at UFC 91 when you lost to Maia, and I heard rumblings that you were very sick and weak but you still went through with the fight? How sick were you?
I definitely don't want to use that as an excuse because he was by far the better fighter that day. His jiu-jitsu was phenomenal. It was an honor to fight him. I ended up getting a bad stomatch flu virus after cutting weight. I threw up from about 6 pm to 11 pm after the weigh-ins and had a fever of around 102. From the time I made weight to the time I left to go to the venue the next day, I didn't leave my bed at all except to throw up and take a shower. But that's just the way it is. I wasn't about to call Maia and say, 'Hey, I'm not feeling good. Sorry you can't feed your family.' I had so many friends and family there. I went out and did the best I possibly could on that given day with what I had. I still went in to finish the fight and he was able to beat me. He's a phenomenal fighter. If we were to fight again, who knows, maybe the exact same thing would happen and he'd catch me in a choke again. I did the best I could and I have no regrets.
I'm sure fans can appreciate the fact you're not using it as an excuse, but what kind of emotion goes through you when you go through the sacrifices of training camp, cutting weight and spending time away from family and then you are not able to fight at an optimal level because of something out of your control?
It's definitely very disappointing because I wasn't able to bring my best game, so it's something where I'll always wonder, 'What if I hadn't got sick? What would've happened?' But it's something you deal with and put aside. You have to take the bad with the good in this sport.
I even told Rich Franklin that. A year or so after we fought, I had the opportunity to talk to him. And I mentioned to him that people ask me if I was rushed into the fight. I told him I wouldn't change it for anything. Even if I knew going into it that I'd get knocked out. That experience is something in life... I was a poor boy from a blue-collar town, now fighting in the UFC main event at the MGM Grand fighting in front of millions of people. I wouldn't take that away even though it is a loss that gets shown over and over every time Rich's name is mentioned. That's just a part of the game and part of sports. There are wins and losses, and it's how you take those losses that determines what kind of person you're going to be.
You're 37 now. How do you feel physically after all these years of fighting?
I'm feeling really good. I can't lie, I don't have the fountain of youth like Randy does. It takes me longer to recover now. Injuries ache a bit longer. I just have to be smarter about my training and not allow myself to get out of shape. I feel really good going into this fight and my back has never been a question since my surgery. Nuvasive did such a great job I was even able to recommend Tito Ortiz to get the same surgery.
Have you talked to Tito since the surgery?
I haven't talked to him in few months. It was funny. He called me 4-5 days after the surgery and said, 'Nate, I can't even jog on a treadmill, this is terrible.' I'm like, 'Man, you just had major back surgery! This isn't a little cut. They went into your body and fused bones together that are now going to grow together. You've got to give it a little time.' Last I heard, he's feeling great and looking real strong.
Do you still enjoy the grind of it?
I love the training, that's for sure. I love getting together with my closest friends and all of us working towards a purpose of going into battle. Even though I'm the one going in there, they're all being carried with me. I love going and showing up. It's going to work with your best friends and doing something you love. It's so much fun, and also knowing wherever I go in any gym, in any town, I can walk through the door and be welcome there, and get in a good workout, meet nice people and have something in common. It's a lot of fun.
What's the best part about it?
The best part would have to be the life it provides me and my little girl. Now that I'm more recognizable, that makes more doors open for me. People look at me and say, 'You've got it easy. You just get to work out, eat and sleep.' They don't realize this has been a 13-year journey for me. I've been training for 13 years, fighting for 11, and it's been seven years since I quit my fulltime job to become a fulltime fighter.
Question submitted by @Douglasm1986 via Twitter: What is the hardest part of living the MMA life?
The hardest part is waking up stiff and tired because I've been pushing my body to the absolute limit. I'm right on the verge of overtraining every single day as I get close to the end of the camp. I'm pushing everything I possibly got. Even if I'm too exhausted for a full, hardcore workout, I'll shadow box, move around with my coach and work on the game plan. That's the hardest part, getting up and moving when you're exhausted and all you want to do is lay on the couch and watch Family Guy reruns.