Trevor Wittman: 'Nate Marquardt is out to make a statement' at welterweight

Trevor Wittman (left) pictured with Nate Marquardt (right)

One main event down, another to go.

Just hours after the dust settled and Shane Carwin's UFC heavyweight championship dreams were put out to pasture by Junior dos Santos at UFC 131 last Saturday night (June 11, 2011), his coach Trevor Wittman was already focused on his next big fighter at Grudge Training Center.

That fighter just so happens to be Nate Marquardt, who's headlining the UFC on Versus 4 event in Pittsburgh in less than two weeks (June 26, 2011) against Rick Story.

After years of sitting among the contenders in the middleweight division and even fighting Anderson Silva for the title at UFC 73, Marquardt decided to make the drop to 170 pounds and see if he could contend there.

Wittman discussed Marquardt's weight cut, his potential conflict of interest with Georges St. Pierre and his upcoming fight with Rick Story in part two of this exclusive interview with MMAmania.com.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Now let's talk about some of your other guys. Nate Marquardt is making his big welterweight debut next week . I was wondering how has his drop down to 170 been because that surprised a lot of people.

Trevor Wittman: The cut, coming down in weight is something that we've been thinking about for a couple fights now and that's big. We looked at our last fight and whether we won or whether we lost, we were gonna make the decision to come down to 170. [Nate] was making weight so easy and his body was coming down in weight and it was just one of those things and we allowed it to happen naturally.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Nate was a contender at 185 and that likely means that if he gets a big win at welterweight, he'll be a contender there. What does that mean for Georges St. Pierre's title dominance down there?

Trevor Wittman: Georges is at that weight and they're great friends. I don't know if they would fight each other if they get to that point. It's up to them to make that decision. You know how I feel. I feel fighters should fight each other no matter whether they're friends or not and that's a decision they will have to make. I think everyone knows my beliefs but Nate was a wrecking force at 185 and I'm really looking forward to the Story fight that's coming up here in two weeks so it's gonna be great to see Nate Marquardt at 170.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Rick Story is a similar-veined fighter as Anthony Johnson. He's got power, he's aggressive and he's got a wrestling base. Did you really have to change much up in preparing for Rick stepping in for Anthony on late notice.

Trevor Wittman: Yeah we actually really had to change a lot. To me, this is a completely different fight. You got Anthony Johnson who's more of a "spot fighter." He fights in spots. He's a super-athletic guy, you know, hand speed, good power and it's a totally different fight. You've got Rick Story who's a fresher guy, a left-hander, a guy who likes to grind you out against the cage and there's a lot of things changed, a lot of different sparring partners brought in and it's a tough thing when you have fighters change on you but I feel Nate has that experience.

It's kinda like Gladiator. If you're a gladiator, you just fight everyone in front of you and you just don't know what style they'll be and Nate's got that veteran experience so I think he'll be able to adapt to it. We're up for all challenges and we want to fight the best in the world. With Rick Story, we feel he's a top three contender with what he's been doing going through Alves and all those guys and it's an exciting match for us.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Is there anything specifically that you see in Rick? In Story's last fight he really used the clinch and he was really aggressive with his footwork, kept Alves off balance with his takedown attempts. Are you confident in Nate's takedown defense ability especially after his fight with Chael Sonnen?

Trevor Wittman: Oh yeah. I'm definitely confident in Nate's takedown defense. It's one of those things. Sometimes when Nate fights somewhat defensive, he can get stuck. Allowing guys to get a position and then it's a lot easier for that guy to get a takedown, stuff like that. After the fight with Okami, we've been a lot more offensive when it comes to wrestling. You saw in the Dan Miller fight we were a lot more aggressive when it came to wrestling and then that's also shut down the takedown because they respect your wrestling.

[Nate's] been a lot more offensive in leading with strikes and not being such a counter fighter. Nate's out there to make a statement and Story is very good at applying the clinch to Alves but I really feel Alves that to happen, he allowed Story to bring the fight to him instead of taking the fight. I'll let you know that Nate's not going to do that. We're going to go out there and make Story fight. Story's a fighter that loves to scrap fights out but we're not backing down from him at all.

So what do you think?

Do you expect a "new and improved" Nate Marquardt at 170? Or will he fall victim to the shark tank of premiere wrestlers sitting atop the division?

Sound off, Maniacs!

Stay tuned for part three of MMAmania.com's exclusive interview with Trevor Wittman as he discusses rising Grudge heavyweight Brendan Schaub. In case you missed it, here's part one of our interview with Trevor where he discusses Shane Carwin's performance at UFC 131.

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