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Thiago Santos predicts first-round KO of Nate Marquardt

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Nate Marquardt is scheduled to fight in Brazil for the first time on May 14, and fellow UFC middleweight Thiago Santos predicts a quick night for him.

Coming off impressive wins over Elias Theodorou, Steve Bosse and Andy Enz in 2015, the Brazilian fighter expects Marquardt to avoid a striking match at all costs in Brazil, and guarantees he’s ready for whatever "The Great" brings to the table.

"He’s a well-rounded guy, a black belt in jiu-jitsu with a lot of submissions in his record. He has heavy hands too, so I can’t underestimate his striking," Santos told MMAFighting.com. "He’s not a one-trick pony, I have to pay attention in everything. I can’t go in there thinking I’ll stop his takedowns and beat him up standing. I have to be ready for everything.

"I’m sure he will go for takedowns," he continued. "If I were him, I would do the exact same thing because people haven’t seen my jiu-jitsu yet. They saw my wrestling in my last fight, but they haven’t seen my ground game. I think he believes taking me down and grappling is the best idea, but I will be ready for that as well. You will be surprised. I’m a more complete fighter now. Wherever the fight goes, I’ll be ready for him. But I will try to keep it standing to knock him out, of course."

"Marreta" admits he wasn’t expecting to face Marquardt next after a perfect 3-0 run in 2015, but welcomes the chance of fighting a former champion.

"I was expecting someone better ranked, but Nate is a former Strikeforce champion and has a big name," said the Brazilian. "He’s not at his prime, but his record speaks for itself. I was surprised, but I liked this fight. He has a history, and is coming off a huge knockout over a tough guy, C.B. Dollaway, so fans will want to watch it. It’s going to be a great fight."

Santos’ last fight in Brazil took place on March 23, 2013, and ended in just 53 seconds. A huge underdog against Ronny Markes, Santos needed less than a minute to knock him out with a devastating kick to the body and silence the crowd in Markes’ hometown of Natal.

"I’ve fought twice in Brazil against Brazilians. I was waiting for this opportunity to put on a show for the Brazilians," he said. "I’m more mature and prepared now, more complete. I have everything to get a great win at home. I foresee a knockout in the first round.

"With all due respect to Marquardt and his history, his record, I’m going there to knock him out. I’ll be all over him. If he doesn’t know me yet, he will know Thiago ‘Marreta’."