Two fighters hoping to improve their fortunes with a change in weight class will square off in the main event of a UFC Fight Night event in New Zealand on June 28. Both James Te Huna and Nate Marquardt are making the move to the middleweight division for a fight that has the potential to produce fireworks. Both competitors are badly in need of a win to boost their stock after having been knocked out in their last fights.
Marquardt is making the move back up to the 185-pound division after having been blitzed by Hector Lombard at UFC 166. It was the second straight fight that the former UFC middleweight-title challenger and Strikeforce welterweight champion had been stopped in the first round. He was also blasted out in a single round by Jake Ellenberger and is currently on a three-fight losing skid.
As for Te Huna, the powerful New Zealand native has opted to make the move down from the light heavyweight ranks for this matchup. He’s also struggled in recent times with back-to-back losses but still carries a respectable 5-3 octagon record. Te Huna was brutally knocked out in his last fight by former light heavyweight champ Mauricio Rua at Fight Night 33 in Australia. Prior to that, he was submitted in the first round at UFC 160 by top-contender Glover Teixeira.
The 32-year-old Te Huna possesses a straight-forward, exciting style but could potentially be on the chopping block with a third straight setback. He will definitely look to test Marquardt’s chin as 10 of his 16 career victories have come via knockout.
While a contest between two fighters on losing streaks may not be viewed as the best of main events, Te Huna’s local flavor is obviously the angle the promotion is taking for their first-ever trip to New Zealand. It marks Te Huna’s first time as a UFC headliner and it’ll no doubt be a huge thrill for him to see it happen on his home soil.
The stakes are pretty clear with this matchup as both Marquardt and Te Huna will likely be in must-win territory in Auckland.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports