In his return to middleweight and in a fight he desperately needed to win, former Strikeforce welterweight champion and previously top middleweight contender Nate Marquardt stopped hometown favorite James Te Huna via first-round armbar in the main event at UFC Fight Night 43 in Auckland, New Zealand on Saturday night.
The bout was never very competitive as Marquardt initially used push kicks and effective circling to keep Te Huna at distance. The Kiwi pushed things into high gear after eating a few punches and attempted a rushed takedown, but ended up reversed on the ground. From there, the American went to work with ferocious elbows on top and a move to half guard.
Te Huna was able to stand and even land a short right uppercut that hurt Marquardt, but the grappling department seemed to be his weakness. As Te Huna attempted an inside trip, he was reversed midair and Marquardt ended up on top in mount. Te Huna bridged to escape, but couldn't ever clear his left arm, which the American secured with a double wrist lock grip. As Te Huna tried to posture out, Marquardt extended the arm, which forced the tap at 4:34 of round 1.
"I think it was obvious that [welterweight] wasn't working out for me," Marquardt said to UFC commentator Kenny Florian after the fight. "I believe god was guiding me back to 185. This is where I belong. I made some bad choices going down to [welterweight].
"I just wanted to mix it up," he continued. "I didn't necessarily have a game plan of what to do or where to go. At the same time, we had some specifics. Obviously, armbar was not part of my plan, but it just happened."
Te Huna drops to 16-8 in MMA while Marquardt rises to 33-13-2.
In the co-main event, heavyweights Jared Rosholt and Soa Palelei worked through a grinding affair that went the distance. In the first frame, Palelei attempted to secure the takedown, but couldn't against the Oklahoma State University wrestler. Rosholt would win the positional battle and up until the final ten seconds of the round, spend time alternating between the clinch and Palelei in turtle controlling the native New Zealander, peppering him the entire time with small shots.
In the second frame, Rosholt seemed to drop Palelei, which put them back in the same position as they spent most of the first round. Rosholt controlled Palelei either against the fence with an underhook or briefly on the ground from front head lock and the back. There wasn't a ton of action to speak of as Palelei's energy seemed badly depleted against the American's wrestling control positions.
By the last round, it was simply all Rosholt who scored a takedown just seconds after the bell rang and controlled Palelei from the New Zealander's turtle position or back for the duration of the round, although without any true submission of ground and pound threat. Rosholt earned the unanimous decision, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27.
Rosholt's record improves to 11-1 while Palelei's drops to 21-4.
With a finish that could very well earn Submission of the Year honors, Charles Oliveira used an Anaconda/Peruvian necktie combination to put away Hatsu Hioki in the second round of their competitive bout. The first round saw Oliveira pressing for the takedown and having some success with it, but not without the Japanese fighter positionally countering. By the second frame, Oliveria locked up an Anaconda bicep grip during a transition where Hioki was stopped for a moment on his knees. Rather than turn into a Gator Roll, Oliveira used similar positioning to the Peruvian Necktie and earned the tap at 4:32 of round 2. Oliveira's record jumps to 18-4 with 1 no-contest while Hioki slides to 27-8-2.
In the opening bout of the main card, Roufusport product Mike Rhodes dropped a unanimous decision to The Ultimate Fighter: Smashes winner Robert Whittaker. The New Zealand native earned 30-27, 30-27, 30-27 scorecards to improve to 12-4 in MMA while Rhodes drops two straight in the UFC, falling to 6-3.
For full fight card results including those on the preliminary portion of the event, go here.