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Nate Marquardt Talks UFC 95 and How an Extra Pedialyte Advanced His Career

As Nate Marquardt gets ready to fight UFC 95, he says his preparation has never been better.

That preparation has come with help from coach Greg Jackson, and when I interviewed Marquardt Thursday, he raved about Jackson and his training partners (including UFC champions Georges St. Pierre and Rashad Evans) at Jackson's gym in Albuquerque. He also told me the story of how having an extra bottle of Pedialyte earned him his first invitation to that gym.

We also discussed what he expects from his opponent, Wilson Gouveia, and why he won't think ahead to a possible UFC middleweight title fight with Anderson Silva. The full interview is below.

Michael David Smith: What is your preparation like, a little over a week before the fight?
Nate Marquardt: I've had an excellent camp for this fight. I feel this is one of the best camps I've had, ever, for any fight. I'm getting a lot of time with great training partners and great coaches, as well as my strength and conditioning, and I'm injury-free. I feel very good about this fight.

What kind of fight do you expect, and do you have a specific game plan for this fight or do you prepare the same way for every fight?
There's definitely things I do to prepare the same way for every fight, but I do come up with game plans depending on how the fight goes. I have a game plan but I'm ready for anything to happen.

Can you give me any details of that game plan?
I'm not set on fighting on the feet or trying to take him down. I'm going to take whatever he gives me. If he gives up the takedown I'm going to take it. If he's defending the take down I'm going to get him with a punch or a kick.

For someone like Wilson, do you try to get a sparring partner who can mimic him? Do you talk to fighters who have fought him? How specific is your training for this specific opponent?

We do a little bit of that. I have some excellent teammates that are able to mimic his style. But I think the main thing is I have to game plan for Wilson. If I can make it work and get someone who's a little bit quicker or a little bit better than Wilson, and then I get things to work against him, then I know it will work against Wilson?

Who are the fighters you really enjoy working with in preparing for your fights?
Keith Jardine. Rashad Evans. Georges St. Pierre. James McSweeney, who just started in MMA but he has about 130 pro kickboxing fights. He's amazing on his feet and he's helped me a lot for this fight. Shane Carwin. Duane Ludwig. Elliott Marshall. I just have a ton of guys to work with.

And those guys are all trained by Greg Jackson. We hear over and over again, fighters will win a big fight and then thank Greg Jackson and talk about how well he prepared them. What is it that he does? What makes him so good at working with fighters?
He's a great game planner. He can tell you things about your opponent that you wouldn't recognize or you wouldn't realize by watching his fights. And he's great at organizing our team. He's able to keep everyone together. It's like a brotherhood. We're not just training partners, we're like a family. That's his main thing.

How did you first start working with him?
I met Greg when he was with Keith Jardine in Japan, in Pancrase. Keith and I both had a situation where we were forced to cut weight the day of a fight, and we were pretty upset with that. Keith and I cut the weight together, and then after the weigh-in he was really dehydrated and I had an extra Pedialyte, and I gave it to Keith and he thought I was great after that. So before my next fight they invited me to come down and check it out.

I interviewed Wilson Gouveia and asked him who was the best opponent he faced, and he said Keith Jardine. How much has Keith been able to help you by sharing his experience fighting Wilson?
A little bit. I watched their fight. But to be honest with you, him telling me something doesn't really do anything. Don't get me wrong, he gave me some advice and I listen, and there might be something I watch out for, but it's not really going to change the way the fight goes. I'm the one who has to get in there and fight him. We're completely different fighters and I'm going to fight Wilson totally different than Keith did. I expect the best Wilson Gouveia to show up and that's who I'm training for.

What is Greg Jackson like during the fight, when he's In your corner?
During the fight he'll call out things if I'm doing something that I need to fix, or if there's an area I need to attack. Between rounds he's great. He's very calm, he tells you what you need to do and he'll tell it to you straight. He'll tell you if I need to win the round or he'll tell you not to get lazy or whatever.

Will Phil Nurse be in your corner at UFC 95?
Unfortunately, no. I have Greg, my stand-up coach and my strength coach, that's the three in my corner.

What do you make of the controversy with Phil being accused of putting Vaseline on George St. Pierre's body when he beat B.J. Penn?
Oh, I think it's silly. Phil made an honest mistake. The crew chief caught it so it shouldn't even be an issue because they wiped off his back. They didn't let him go out there, they wiped it off. The main thing is, B.J. should be looking at what he needs to change and what areas he can fix rather than trying to put the blame somewhere else. It's a sign of weakness.

Who do you think is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world?
Georges St. Pierre.

What makes you say that?
He's obviously shown it by beating everyone in the welterweight division. He's a great athlete. He's a complete fighter. He has great standup, great wrestling, great ground. He's strong, he's fast, he's big for his division. And I train with him so I know how good he is. He's great in training and he's great in his fights, too.

And you feel strongly that GSP is better, pound-for-pound, than Anderson Silva?
Definitely. You look at Anderson Silva and he has holes in his game. People can point out holes in his game. No one can point out a hole in Georges' game.

I've heard other fighters say Anderson Silva has holes in his game. I just talked to Chael Sonnen and he told me the same thing -- Georges St. Pierre is the best in the world and Anderson has holes in his game. And yet in eight fights in the UFC, no one has even come close to beating Anderson Silva.
Well, he's a great finisher. So even though he has holes in his game no one has been able to capitalize on it. He's able to get out of trouble, and any time he hurts his opponent he's been able to finish. That's what makes him a great fighter.

Who's the toughest opponent you've ever fought?
Thales Leites is very tough. I beat him up pretty good and he never quit. I also fought Kazuo Misaki in Japan. He's very tough.

When did you realize you could make a living in MMA?
It was always a dream of mine. I was always working toward that. At the time I started it wasn't a very good possibility, but it was always what I wanted. Once I started fighting for the UFC I was able to make a good living doing it.

When did you first become an MMA fan?
I don't think I saw it live, but I saw a video of UFC 1, and from that point on I was hooked.

Who were your favorite fighters in the old days?
Definitely Royce Gracie, and then I really liked Don Frye. He was a good wrestler and good boxer who could mix it up. And then I liked guys like Frank Shamrock and Bas Rutten. They were really good fighters, well rounded and could fight anywhere, on the feet or on the ground.

You've lost to both Silva and Leites, who are fighting each other for the middleweight title at UFC 97 in April. Do you view this fight as an opportunity to show you deserve a rematch with the winner of that fight?
Yeah, but I'm just focused on this fight. Every fight that I have in front of me is the most important fight to me, so I'm not looking past Wilson at all. But definitely, I think if I put on a good performance and a good fight, that's something I would definitely deserve.

The Leites fight was kind of a strange one. You almost beat him -- on one judge's card you did beat him -- but you would have beaten him on all three judges' cards if you hadn't had two points deducted. What do you think when you look back on that fight?
I'm not bitter about that at all. That fight did wonders for my career. Everyone talks about it. Everyone who saw that fight knows that I won it. It doesn't really matter how the judges scored it, it matters more what the fans and what the UFC thought about my fight.

And from what you've heard from the fans and the UFC, what did they think?
Well, after that fight I got to fight Martin Kampmann, who beat Thales, and (Leites) was scheduled to fight Dean Lister, who I won against. So obviously they were giving Thales a step down and me a step up.

What's your prediction for Silva vs. Leites?
Obviously, either one of them has a chance to finish the other guy. Leites is a master on the ground and if you get Silva down, Silva can be in a lot of trouble. But to start off Leites is in a lot of trouble on the feet. Either way, it's anexciting fight to watch, and I would be very surprised if it went the distance.

Do you think to yourself, "Beating Wilson gives me another shot at Anderson Silva?" Or is all of your focus on Wilson?
All my focus is on Wilson. You can never think during a fight or in training for a fight of what you're going to get from winning the fight. If you're fighting for something -- fighting for something material, like getting a title fight or for money -- that's the wrong reason to fight. I'm fighting because I love to fight. Nothing else is on my mind. Just the fight.

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