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Nate Marquardt Signs With Strikeforce

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Nate Marquardt's professional purgatory is over. One of the MMA world's top free agents, the veteran has been signed by Zuffa, but in a surprise move, inked to the UFC's sister promotion Strikeforce.

The signing, confirmed by Zuffa's Dana White, was reported on Tuesday's edition of FUEL TV's "UFC Tonight."

Marquardt, a perennial top 10 middleweight during a six-year run in the UFC, is expected to compete as a welterweight in Strikeforce.

The 32-year-old hasn't fought since last March, when he earned a unanimous decision victory over Dan Miller at UFC 128.

One of the more bizarre episodes in UFC history led to his release. In June 2011, Marquardt seemed set to make his welterweight debut in a match against Rick Story, but on the day of weigh-ins, he was denied a fighter's license by the Pennsylvania state athletic commission after failing to satisfy the requirements for a therapeutic use exemption for hormone replacement therapy.

He was immediately cut from the organization by White.

Just about one month later, Marquardt signed with UK promotion BAMMA, making him the highest-profile fighter in the organization's short history. As it turns out, he never actually fought in their cage.

After Marquardt's BAMMA debut was delayed twice by the promotion, the two sides parted ways in January, allowing Marquardt to explore other opportunities.

While UFC president Dana White said in the aftermath of the Marquardt firing that Marquardt would never fight for the UFC again, he never closed the door on a possible Strikeforce signing.

Just last month, White seemed to acknowledge that he was open to a Marquardt return, saying "I don't dislike Nate. I like Nate very much. We'll see what happens."

What happened is a return into the Zuffa family, where Marquardt will be a welcome addition to a division that is clearly lacking in veteran star power. Aside from Tyron Woodley, top fighters in the division include Tarec Saffiedine, Jordan Mein and Jason High.