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Nate Marquardt Hopes for Second Crack Against Anderson Silva

Three years later, Nate Marquardt can pinpoint what went wrong when he fought Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight title at UFC 73. Considered one of the top middleweights in the world since then, Marquardt has never been able to work his way back into a rematch with "the Spider," and avenge the loss, but that could possibly change should Marquardt defeat Yushin Okami at UFC 122 next weekend.

It's a scenario Marquardt hopes to make a reality.

"For me the most important thing is to get that title fight, fight the champ," he said. "That's my dream is to become champion. It doesn't matter who it is. But I would definitely prefer it to be Silva just because he's been champ for so long and proven to be top of the division."

That was Marquardt's response upon being asked whether he'd prefer to face Silva or Vitor Belfort for the belt. Of course, he'll have no say in the matter, as Silva and Belfort will square off with the championship on the line at UFC 126 next February. But you can understand his point of view.

Marquardt surged on to the UFC scene in 2005 and won four straight to earn a shot at Silva's belt, but he lasted just 4:50 before being TKO'd in Silva's first official title defense.

"When I fought Silva, for a while I'd been having a lot of success," he said. "It was one of those things where I started fighting to not lose, too conservatively, not wanting to make a mistake or overextend myself. I was able to win all my fights in the UFC, got the title shot and fought Silva, but I felt like I didn't use all the tools I have. I was holding back."

Marquardt said that afterward, he promised himself he would fight more aggressively, and points out that even in his two losses since then (he's gone 5-2 since), he's done the lion's share of damage. In one of the losses to Thales Leites, Marquardt manhandled him for much of the bout but lost via split decision after being docked two points for rules infractions. In the other, he was outpointed by Chael Sonnen, though Sonnen left the cage with a bruised and battered face.

He realizes the Feb. 2010 loss to Sonnen set him back, something he attributes to a temporary "lost focus of my desire to be the champion."

"I don't know if it's just that I've had so many fights throughout my career or what it is, but all I can tell you is the desire I have now is greater than when I fought Chael Sonnen," he said. "It feels the same as when I was a kid. I want to be the champ and I know I'm one step away. I'm going to give everything I have to be the champion."

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