UFC Fight Night 43 preview: Nate Marquardt on a mission from God

USA TODAY Sports

And "The Great" may need divine intervention to avoid the ZUFFA chopping block ... again.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight Nate Marquardt dropped down to the welterweight division in 2012, finding early success against Tyron Woodley in Strikeforce. But the thrill of victory would soon give way to the agony of defeat, and "The Great" was anything but in the three fights that followed.

Now he's back at 185 pounds, because that's where God wants him to be.

"I just feel like that's what God wanted me to do, was to move back up to middleweight," Marquardt told MMA Junkie. "I'd never lost two fights in a row before, so it was actually more after the second one that I was actually kind of questioning myself."

Marquardt was last seen going stiff against Hector Lombard at UFC 166.

Crediting a divine creator with failure or success to is hardly a new concept in sports, let alone mixed martial arts (MMA). One of the greatest heavyweights to ever step foot inside a cage or ring, Fedor Emelianenko, once shrugged his shoulders and attributed a three-fight losing streak to God's will.

As a fan, it can sometimes be maddening.

Not because a fighter has surrendered his or her destiny to a higher power, but rather because they seem to accept defeat way too easily. As a fan of "The Last Emperor," I was really hoping he would stand up and declare that not even God could stop him from losing another fight.

No matter.

Marquardt (32-13-2) began preaching the gospel late last year, insisting that he still had time to do God's work inside the Octagon. That mission will continue against James Te Huna this Saturday (June 28, 2014) in the main event of UFC Fight Night 43 in New Zealand (details).

The winner can lay claim to being less awful than the loser.

That may sound a bit harsh on paper monitor, but from a statistical standpoint, this could be the worst UFC main event in history. Combined, Marquardt and Te Huna are 0-5 in their last five fights, with three losses by knockout and one by submission. Not exactly the stuff of legend.

But Te Huna (16-7) is a local favorite and can probably move tickets.

The former light heavyweight, however, has has a glaring hole in his defense, evidenced by five submission losses in seven total defeats. That stacks the deck against the Aussie, in a fight that asks him to repel a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Ricardo Murgel.

On the flip side, Te Huna can hit like a Mack truck, and "The Great" has been slept in consecutive bouts.

What's unfortunate about Marquardt's career is how it continues to be overshadowed by his missteps, which in sports, always take precedence over accomplishments. In addition to being a former Strikeforce welterweight champion, the Jackson's MMA product is a three-time King of Pancrase.

He also worked his way up to a UFC middleweight title shot in 2007 after winning six in a row.

But Marquardt lost spectacularly against Anderson Silva, less than two years after testing positive for steroids. He would once again run afoul of a stateside athletic commission in 2011, when his welterweight debut was bungled by testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).

A treatment he quickly stopped, following his UFC release.

He wasn't gone for long, but whether that was the will of God or UFC President Dana White is unknown. What is known, is how close Marquardt is to getting sent back to the unemployment line. At age 35, there's simply no room on a bloated roster for a middleweight riding a four-fight losing streak.

He's facing long odds this weekend overseas, but like his manager MC Hammer once said, that's why we pray.

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