A middleweight battle between former number one contender Nate Marquardt and Italian striker Alessio Sakara is likely for UFC 116 on July 3 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
First reported by Joe Ferraro, a source from one of the fight camps has confirmed to MMAmania.com that bout agreements have indeed been distributed but are not yet signed.
Marquardt (29-9-2) is of course coming off a fairly one-sided beat down at the hands of now number one middleweight contender Chael Sonnen at UFC 109. Many people pegged the fight as an easy win for "The Great," but Mr. Sonnen showed us all yet again what good ole American wrestling can do for you in this sport.
Prior to the Sonnen defeat, Nate had won three consecutive fights inside the Octagon including a 21 second dismantling of Demian Maia at UFC 102. That win propelled Marquardt back to the top of the division, but another title shot was just not meant to be at the moment.
The man they call "Legionarius," Alessio Sakara (15-7, 1 NC), has put together a decent winning streak over the last couple years. Having defeated the likes of Thales Leites at UFC 101 and most recently James Irvin at UFC on Versus 1, Sakara has put himself in position to really climb up the middleweight ladder if he can get by Marquardt.
Just recently, Alessio actually called out Michael Bisping in an attempt to get a fight with the Brit, but "The Count" was already scheduled to face Dan Miller at UFC 114, so that contest will have to wait. However, one could easily view this bout as a better opportunity for Sakara to showcase his talents and take the next step in his career as Nate is undoubtedly thought of as a tougher opponent at this time.
UFC 116 is already shaping up to be one of the promotion's biggest cards of the year. The July 4 weekend event will be headlined by the return of Brock Lesnar as he defends his heavyweight crown against undefeated mauler Shane Carwin.
Stay tuned to MMAmania.com for more news on UFC 116 as it becomes available.