UFC veteran Nate Marquardt was banking on a middleweight return to spark his faltering career and it paid immediate dividends at Fight Night 43. “The Great” silenced the crowd in Auckland by submitting New Zealand native James Te Huna in the first-round of their main event clash. The victory snapped a three-fight skid for Marquardt and made for an unsuccessful middleweight debut for Te Huna.
Marquardt was seemingly on his last legs in the promotion after suffering back-to-back first-round knockout losses to Hector Lombard and Jake Ellenberger, but appeared rejuvenated in the move back up to the 185-pound division. He was in fine form from the opening moments landing a solid right hand, kicks and a knee to the face that rocked Te Huna. Marquardt bloodied up his opponent with vicious elbows from top position and showed he could still take a punch when Te Huna was able to get to his feet and land a couple of solid uppercuts.
The end came late in the opening stanza when Te Huna attempted to escape from bottom position after being taken down. He left his left arm vulnerable in the scramble, and Marquardt was able to lock in a fight ending armbar. Te Huna was forced to tap at the 4:34 mark. Marquardt earned a Performance of the Night bonus and improved to 33-13-2. He should be in line for some exciting matchups in his new weight division after keeping his Octagon career alive.
Marquardt is a former middleweight title challenger having lost to Anderson Silva back in 2007 at UFC 73 and has faced elite competition during his lengthy career. That experience advantage was evident against the dangerous Te Huna. It was Marquardt’s best effort since knocking out Tyron Woodley in devastating fashion to win the Strikeforce welterweight title in 2012.
Te Huna was visibly disappointed after the end of the bout and it appeared as though his left arm may have been damaged. He was hoping to make a favorable impression on home soil in the 185-pound division but sustained his third consecutive first-round stoppage loss. He was previously knocked out by Mauricio Rua and submitted by Glover Teixeira before making the move down from the light heavyweight ranks.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports