Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
It was about one year ago when the controversy surrounding testosterone replacement therapy truly exploded. It was at that time when Nate Marquardt was fired by the UFC for failure to gain a therapeutic use exemption for TRT, making him ineligible for a main event matchup with Rick Story. Prior to that, Chael Sonnen had brought the terminology into MMA parlance during his California state athletic commission hearing for an elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio, but Marquardt's incident seemed to indicate a growing trend.
Since then, Marquardt has not fought, his absence from the cage stretching back to March 2011. But the drought is soon to end. He's been brought back into the Zuffa fold, but under the Strikeforce banner, where he will face Tyron Woodley for the vacant welterweight title in the July 14 Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kenney event.
Given the events of the preceding year and the adversity he's faced, it comes as a welcome opportunity, and one he'll be taking without the aid of the therapy that brought all this trouble upon him. On Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, Marquardt confirmed that is no longer using TRT.
"I didn't know if I was going to be able to fulfill my dreams going that route," he said. "I just feel it was so much of a hassle and stress with the commissions and all that, I guess, that the right thing for me to do right now is to choose not to do it. And you know, definitely I've pursued a lot of other stuff to try to help my health and a lot of it's helping. I feel great right now. I'm in really good shape, and that's not something I'm worried about right now."
Among the things Marquardt (31-10-2) mentioned in order to help his health were treating a severe issue with allergies and addressing sleep apnea, a disorder that interrupts normal breathing and often leads to problems including fatigue and memory loss.
Yet, Marquardt leaving the treatment behind is no small story, as there is much literature that suggests that TRT, once taken, is to be used for a lifetime.
Marquardt said he could only speak to his personal situation in regards to TRT, saying that there are people like him for whom it's a legitimate medical need.
"I'm sure there are guys who misuse TRT, but there's also guys who plain out use steroids," he said. "Guys are going to cheat no matter what. That's something that you can't get around."
Pressed further about the reaction surrounding his TRT use, Marquardt said he understood the interest and controversy in the topic, but was more interested in moving forward with his career rather than looking backward.
That first step will come against Woodley, who is unbeaten with a 10-0 record yet receives some criticism for conservatism with his game plans (four of his last five wins have come by way of decision). Count Marquardt among the critics.
While he said he respects Woodley's skills, he also noted "we’re there to fight, not hold each other on the ground for half-an-hour." Clearly, he believes he has the antidote for Woodley's wrestling-based style.
"I don't know what he can think of for a game plan for me," he said. "He’s not going to hold me down for five rounds. Is that his game plan, to take me down every round and just hold me down? That's not going to happen. He's definitely a boring fighter as far as other guys who let him hold them down."
As far as the move from the UFC to Strikeforce, Marquardt says he sees it as a great opportunity. After the trials and tribulations of the last year -- some of which were self-inflicted -- Marquardt is just looking forward to getting back in the cage and fighting.
"I'm just excited and happy and grateful," he said. "That's the main thing is I'm grateful. I feel that this whole year, my faith has been tested and strengthened. I feel stronger than ever and I’m ready to go."
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