Middleweight Nate Marquardt regains spark, looks to punish opponents

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The savage side of Nate (The Great) Marquardt has resurfaced recently. And the mixed martial arts middleweight is profiting as a result.
It took a loss to champion Anderson Silva to put the predator back on track.
''I kind of hit a plateau in my career. I had got to a really high level and was content with just winning the fight,'' said Marquardt. ''I kind of stopped going out like I used to when I was young, just going out and giving it my everything - like leaving everything out there and really trying to hurt the guy and knock him out or submit him, I think that's something I lost after a while. Not on purpose, it kind of happened.
''After the Silva fight, I think that sparked the fire back in me. Since then I've just been more aggressive and gone after it.''
Since being stopped by Silva at UFC 73 in July 2007, the 185-pounder from Denver has soundly beaten Jeremy Horn and Martin Kampmann and lost a split decision to Thales Leites in a bout where Marquardt twice had a point deducted.
Leites, who is slated to challenge Silva for the title at UFC 97 in April in Montreal, was strong in the first round but Marquardt took control as the fight wore on. He punished the Brazilian, bloodying him up - even spiking him to the canvas in the third round.
But the fight turned on the point deductions - illegal knee to the head of his downed opponent in the second round and elbow to the back of the head in the third. Marquardt still believes the second penalty was unwarranted.
Two judges scored it 28-27 for Leites while the third had it 28-27 for Marquardt.
In fights sandwiched around the Leites bout, he methodically beat up Horn and Kampmann, dipping into his arsenal to hurt them any way he could. At the fence, if his opponent's head was protected, he went to the head. And vice versa.
Marquardt (30-8-2) returns to London's O2 Arena, the site of the Leites loss at UFC 85 last June, to face Wilson Gouveia on Saturday at UFC 95 (Rogers Sportsnet, 3 p.m. ET, and Spike TV, 9 p.m. ET on tape delay).
Gouveia (12-5) is a former light-heavyweight who failed to make weight last time out in his second foray at 185 pounds. Fighting at a catchweight of 189 pounds, the Florida-based Brazilian managed to catch Canadian middleweight Jason (The Athlete) MacDonald with a left flush to the chin. MacDonald went down at the fence, absorbing a string of hammer-fists and some 18 elbow strikes that carved open his forehead before tapping out to stop the punishment after two minutes 18 seconds in the December bout.
''I have a lot for respect for him,'' Marquardt said of Gouveia. ''He's a well-rounded guy, he's a tough guy. Seems real good on his feet and on the ground.''
Conditioning has been a question mark for the 30-year-old Gouveia in the past. Not so for Marquardt, who has upped his cardio by working with Georges St. Pierre's fitness guru, Jon Chaimberg.
''I've always trained very hard and tried to be scientific about my training. And I've had strength coaches and conditioning coaches before, but he's kind of on a different level than what I've done in the past,'' Marquardt said of Chaimberg.
The 29-year-old fighter points to improved ''explosive power,'' endurance and speed.
''He doesn't let me overtrain and he works on my stabilizer muscles. All those things combined, I'm getting faster and stronger, yet I'm getting injured less and less.''

Geographic location: Denver, Montreal, London

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