Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
A fighter's body is mostly his own business. Mostly. One exception is the week he steps out towards the athletic arena, at which point he subjects himself to the examination of others. When athletic commissions poke, prod and test athletes, they're doing so on behalf of the public they represent.
It was one of those tests that sidetracked Nate Marquardt's career in 2011. He had been scheduled to fight for the UFC in Pennsylvania, but wasn't licensed when his testosterone test came back with an elevated ratio. He was promptly cut from the UFC.
Eight months later, Marquardt was brought back into the Zuffa fold, though with sister promotion Strikeforce. Now, on the cusp of a welterweight title match against Tyron Woodley, the whole TRT episode is one that Marquardt would like everyone to forget about. He recently acknowledged that he is no longer using TRT, and when asked how his body was reacting to the change, he offered a response that addressed the question while also trying to deflect it.
"It’s one of those things, it's been challenging," he said. "I've had to find a lot of ways to combat it. I've had to change my training schedule, but the bottom line is I’m training hard, I feel great. I've felt like this before in training and done awesome.
"It's one of those things, I just want to move past that point in my life," he continued. "I mean, I'm so sick of answering TRT questions, to be honest. You would think the media would want to talk about something new, anyway. It’s kind of old news. I’ve got a title fight coming up, and I feel great, and that's the bottom line."
On one hand, you can understand Marquardt's desire to put the past behind him. No one likes to re-live bad memories, particularly when there is promise of better ones ahead.
On the other, his decision to come off TRT is newsworthy in itself, especially when he publicly spoke about how the therapy addressed many symptoms he'd experienced like sluggishness and fatigue, physical issues that could negatively impact his fight camp if they returned. Because of that, asking him about his physical state is no different than asking the same of a fighter who had just returned from physical therapy.
That said, Marquardt's performance at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy should show whether he has suffered any effects from his decision, particularly given the two added elements at play this time around. For one, the fight could potentially go 25 minutes, making it the first five-rounder he's had to prepare for since 2007. For another, it will mark his move to welterweight after over a decade spent as a middleweight.
Marquardt does not expect either to be a problem, saying he was never a big middleweight and that he believes it will be "fairly easy" to make the 170-pound limit. Meanwhile, his conditioning hasn't been compromised in his year away from fighting, because even though he hasn't gotten the chance to actually strap on his gloves in front of a paying audience, he's gone through camps for other fights that have fallen through, and he's never let up on training.
But despite his wishes and protestations, the interest in TRT and the fighter who use it doesn't seem to be going away, despite the fact that he has stopped his own use. In some ways, that has made it a new chapter in his own personal story. That hasn't made for a comfortable feeling for Marquardt, who is simply looking forward to getting back to doing the thing that he is most comfortable doing.
"It hasn’t been easy," he said. "It's definitely tested me and I believe God’s been testing me. I just really feel grateful at this point. It's been a rough road but I feel like I’ve overcome the challenges and I’m just excited to have this fight. I'm excited to get back in there. I feel like I'm a kid again in one of my first fights, so it’s exciting."
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