He was the reigning Strikeforce Welterweight champion, needing to defeat Tarec Saffiedine at the final event for the now defunct promotion this past January to ride a three-fight win streak back to the Octagon and possibly earn him a bit more wiggle room when it came to the negotiation process.
Unfortunately, "The Great" made the mistake of overlooking "Sponge," though he admits he did it subconsciously.
Marquardt admits (via MMAFighting.com) that his ego could be to blame:
"Thinking back, I'm like, ‘well, why didn't I do this or why didn't I do that?' It wasn't a technical issue, I know how to check leg kicks. Anyone that says, ‘oh, you should have checked the leg kicks.' Well, they don't really understand. I can go with guys from Thailand and spar with those guys and not get kicked in the leg like that. I was a mental issue. I've worked through that and looked at all the reasons and I definitely feel like I have closure on that. I think one of the main things was that I over looked Saffiedine subconsciously. It wasn't something that I did on purpose. I trained very hard for Saffiedine, but, I don't know if it was ego that got in the way or what. There were things I should have done in my camp to train for him specifically that I said, ‘ well, what I have right now is good enough. It's not going to matter.' That's not my normal thing. My normal thing is I want to get the best training every single camp, every single fight. The best for me and the best to fight my opponent, specifically. And, I didn't do that and that was a huge mistake. Everything can kind of sprout out from that as far reasons why I wasn't mentally there."
For five rounds, Saffiedine battered Marquardt's legs with vicious leg kicks, hurting the 170-pound champ and earning him a unanimous decision on the judge's scorecards and the right to be called the final Strikeforce welterweight champion. In the process, Saffiedine punched his own UFC ticket.
Marquardt went on to say that the fact that everyone around him was saying he was going to "smash" the Belgian only inflated his ego a bit more. And, when it came time to fight, trading jabs for kicks against a "world class" kickboxer wasn't exactly fighting "smart."
Despite the setback, Marquardt received an invite back to the Octagon as he is set to take on Jake Ellenberger this weekend (March 16, 2013) at UFC 158, which goes down at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
And you can bet Marqaurdt won't be making the same mistake of subconsciously overlooking and opponent again, especially one as dangerous as "Juggernaut."