New Strikeforce Champ Nate Marquardt Feels He's a 'Better Athlete' at 170 Pounds

Nate Marquardt (EL, Showtime)

Nate Marquardt is notorious for his perfectionism.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that while the rest of the mixed martial arts world praised his impressive Strikeforce welterweight title victory over Tyron Woodley on Saturday night, the new champ found something to nitpick about his performance.

"I saw some things I didn't like," Marquardt told MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "Some of my stuff looked sloppy, you know, so there's always room for improvement."

Still, even someone as self-critical as Marquardt can appreciate what he managed to accomplish on Saturday. The Denver-based fighter went through a tumultuous year in which he was suspended by the Pennsylvania athletic commission, fired by the UFC, then signed with British-based BAMMA and left the company before his first fight. So getting back to action and winning his title since holding Pancrase honors in 2005 was a relief

"You know, sure, there were times before the fight where I would think about stuff like [last year's issues]," he said. "But really, when you go into a fight you can't have any of that stuff on your mind. ... I just go in and do my best and that's all you can do."

Marquardt was tested early in the fight, as the previously undefeated Woodley rocked him with a big right hand.

"It definitely knocked me down," he said. "But it was a flash, I was all there once I hit the ground. And then when from that point, he was trying to finish me and I could feel it, so I was figured I'd weather the storm and kind of just let him tire himself out."

The veteran took control of the fight from there, but the game Woodley managed to hold on until the fourth round. At that point, a pair of nasty elbows led to the fight's finish.

"I've always used elbows on the cage one at a time, and [Maquardt's karate coach] told me that I should use two at a time, and that's actually what ended up setting up the end there. I hit him with several elbows throughout the fight but it was one at a time, but it was catching him. So I thought, wow, maybe I should try two in a row and see if that does anything. Bam, bam, he was rocked, the third elbow he was basically out and I hit him with a couple uppercuts to finish it."

It was an impressive 170-pound debut for Marquardt, who improved to 32-10-2 on his career.

"I feel like, when I'm lighter, I'm faster, I have better endurance, and I didn't lose any power or strength," said Marquardt. I feel like I'm better, I feel like a better athlete."

As for the big question which faces every Strikeforce champion -- that of who's next -- the pickings are slim, with names like Jordan Mein and Jason High being thrown around, as well as the ever-present, unnamed "fighters outside of Strikeforce."

Marquardt, though, had high praise for his vanquished foe.

"I was very impressed with him," Marquardt said of Woodley. "His wrestling is so good that he's been able to kind of get away with just using his wrestling. I didn't know what to expect in terms of the rest of his standup game. He has a very good standup game and he's very resilient. I was very surprised at how resilient. He's one of the best of the world, there's no doubt in my mind. He's a tough dude, he'll be back, he'll be stronger, he just needs a little more experience."

As for the drama which unfolded over the past year, in which Marquardt became a poster boy for testosterone replacement therapy, he considers the matter closed.

"I'm done with them," he said about TRT-related questions. "I'm sure there's going to be people out there who will ask them, but, I'm probably just not going to answer them because, I've answered them, I've dealt with that, I've proved myself, and it's over."

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