Nate Marquardt expects vacant welterweight title to be on the line in Strikeforce debut fight against Tyron Woodley

Former UFC contender Nate Marquardt can thank his lucky stars for his return to the Zuffa-owned Strikeforce organization, as well as for an immediate title shot versus Tyron Woodley on May 19, 2012.

The past 12 months have been a roller coaster for Nate Marquardt.

In March of 2011, "The Great" had just won a unanimous decision victory over Dan Miller at UFC 128. It appeared as though he was getting his career back on track, and he was re-energized by a move down to Welterweight, where he was set to fight Rick Story at UFC on Versus 4 in the main event of the evening. Everything was coming together nicely.

And then it happened.

The day before the Story fight, Marquardt was pulled from the match because of elevated testosterone levels. The withdrawal sent the entire card into disarray and caused Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White to immediately fire Marquardt and declare he'd never fight in the UFC again.

Fast forward one year later.

In the interim, Marquardt signed with the BAMMA, but never actually stepped foot in the cage for the British-based promotion. After being granted his release from the promotion earlier this year, there was speculation of Marquardt signing with Bellator, as well as a few other smaller promotions, before it was finally made official that he'd be signing with Zuffa-owned Strikeforce.

In February, it was announced that Marquardt's first fight for Strikeforce would be opposite welterweight contender Tyron Woodley. According to a recent interview Marquardt had with "Inside MMA," the fight will be for the vacant 170-pound belt:

"It's the best outcome I could have imagined, with all this. Like I said. Back with Zuffa. Back in a title fight for my first fight back, it's amazing. From what I understand, that's who I'll be fighting is Tyron Woodley. I also understand it's gonna be a five round title fight for the 170 pound title. You know, he's a smart fighter, but at the same time, I have a lot more experience than him. It's gonna be my fight to dictate where it goes."

It certainly makes for a dramatic twist.

Now, Marquardt -- who appeared to be banished for life by Dana White for life -- will not only make his debut for a promotion that is, for all intents and purposes, run by White, but his return will be welcomed with an immediate title shot.

Interesting to say the very least, no?

The fight has not been confirmed by Strikeforce officials as being a title fight, but it is officially scheduled to take place on the May 19, 2012, card that will feature a main event fight between Josh Barnett and Daniel Cormier for the heavyweight grand prix championship. The card will also showcasesanother title fight when Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez defends his strap in a rubber match versus Josh Thomson.

For the latest news notes on Strikeforce: "Barnett vs. Cormier" be sure to hit up our complete event archive right here.

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