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Nate Marquardt: Dropping to welterweight is a 'permanent move'

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Nate Marquardt has spent his entire mixed martial arts career fighting at middleweight, even competing against Anderson Silva for the UFC title nearly four years ago.

Time and time again since he'd become very close to earning another shot but he always seemed to come up short. First it was a split decision loss to Thales Leites where he was deducted two points for illegal infractions, then it was a unanimous decision loss to Chael Sonnen where he was thoroughly outwrestled and lastly, he came in with a counter-punching mind-set and allowed Yushin Okami to push the pace and earn a title shot against Anderson Silva.

After defeating a game Dan Miller at UFC 128, he decided to make a fresh start and cut down to the welterweight division, starting with a clean slate.

His drop to 170-pounds was a key issue in Tuesday's UFC on Versus 4 conference call, where "The Great" fielded several questions in the lead-up to his main event fight with fellow welterweight contender Rick Story.

Nate explains why he chose to make the move and how he's feeling right now after the jump.

Marquardt detailed one of the key reasons for making the drop to 170.

"For me, it was about how I felt. For my last fight I was very light and I felt the best I'd felt in years. Probably since before I was fighting in the UFC and I think it's more of a natural weight for me and my body operates better with less weight on it. For me it's just about performance and I feel I'm gonna perform better at a lighter weight regardless whether I'm fighting at 185 or 170."

Some fighters feel great when cutting down to a new weight class for the first time, others look drawn out and their performance suffers. Nate explained how he's feeling physically.

"I changed a few things in the diet and a little bit more in the practice as well and they were both positive changes for me and like I said, it ended up making me walk around lighter and I felt a lot better. I had way better stamina. I felt like I had the stamina that I had when I was 20 years old. I haven't lost any strength, my power's gone up and my speed's gone up. I feel great. I feel this cut is more natural for me. Size-wise, I'm as big as Georges St. Pierre and strength-wise, I was strong at 185 and I don't feel like I've lost any strength dropping down."

Even if he's lighter now, an important question was whether or not he's performed a "test cut" to see whether he can make the weight and how he'd feel after making it.

"My weight right now is very good. I'm really not worried about the weight cut ... I've done it in the past and I know I can cut weight pretty easily. My body holds onto a lot of water. It comes off very easily. I haven't done a practice run this time but it's not something I'm concerned about. The dietitian will be there helping me out during the week of the cut to help me cut the weight and more importantly helping me rehydrate so I'm 100% for the fight."

Before making the cut to 170, Marquardt was just one fight removed from a title eliminator bout against Yushin Okami. The last major question he fielded was whether or not he plans to stay at welterweight or if he could potentially move back to middleweight and contend there if the opportunity arises.

"The way I'm looking at it is this is a permanent division move. A lot of people were asking about a fight with Bisping, that kinda stuff I would consider but at the same time I'm gonna stay. I'm gonna keep my weight where's it's at right now, I'm not gonna to try to bulk back up. I feel way better at this weight now. I feel my cardio is excellent. I feel 100% and I can train 100% every day. I just feel like an animal so I see this as a permanent move."

So what do you think Maniacs?

Will Marquardt make a splash in his welterweight debut? Or is this a desperate move that will blow up in "The Great's" face?

Let's hear it!