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UFC 102:

Not so fast Dan

Nate Marquardt may have just skipped Henderson for the next middleweight title shot

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Nate Marquardt (left) poses with Demian Maia at the pre-fight UFC 102 press conference. Marquardt knocked out Maia in the first round.

One Great Fight

In the main event of UFC 102, Antonio Nogueira defeated Randy Couture by unanimous decision. Post fight it was announced that Couture resigned with the UFC a six-fight, 28-month deal.

PORTLAND, Ore. — With one straight right hand, Nate Marquardt laid out Demian Maia Saturday night to earn a fourth win in his last five fights.

However it was the right hand he didn’t throw that might have been the most amazing part of the fight.

With Maia clearly hurt and crumpled underneath him, Marquardt stopped himself from throwing another shot to his downed opponent even though referee Dave Hagan hadn’t stepped in to call the fight yet.

When asked about the classy move, Marquardt said he didn’t believe he had done anything other UFC fighters wouldn’t do.

“I connected, he kind of turned and I thought he was still awake,” Marquardt said. “I was loading up for a punch but then I could see in his eyes he was completely out so there was no reason to hit him.

“I think most fighters will do that.”

One fighter that didn’t do that was the one Marquardt may see next — Dan Henderson.

Henderson floored Michael Bisping in the second round of their fight at UFC 100, then followed it up with another punch to his knocked out opponent’s face before the referee stepped in.

Marquardt defended Henderson Saturday, saying every situation is different.

“Everything happens so fast when you’re fighting,” he said. “Sometimes it feels like its happening in slow motion because your brain is going so fast. Sometimes it’s the opposite, you don’t remember it.

“Dan Henderson might have thought he was still fighting or maybe he thought Bisping was waking up. You’re supposed to go until the ref stops you.”

Maybe the difference is that Marquardt has become an expert at recognizing opponents who can no longer continue fighting. He's definitely seen his a lot recently.

His demolition of Maia was the third time in three fights Marquardt has finished an opponent in explosive fashion.

It’s those kinds of performances that may catapult him past Henderson for the next title shot with Anderson Silva, who he lost to with the belt on the line in 2007.

“I think he looked great tonight,” said UFC President Dana White. “Those are the kind of punches you see in movies or in video games. Those kinds of punches usually aren’t real.

“Now I’ve got to figure this thing out.”

The highlight-reel finish may have never happened were it not for an ankle injury Marquardt sustained while training for this fight.

Expecting Maia to throw a lot of kicks, Marquardt had been training different moves to counter them with. After injuring his ankle in training, he began working on countering with his right hand instead of a traditional kick he had already grown comfortable with.

Apparently, it was a counter Maia wasn’t expecting Saturday night.

“I had watched tape on how he looked after kicks,” Marquardt said. “I have a lot of counters for kicks and I hurt my ankle a couple weeks ago.

“I asked my buddy Dwayne, ‘How do I counter this if I can’t do my normal stuff?’ He told me to step in and throw an overhand right when he kicks. It was crazy how it worked so easily tonight.”

It’s no secret that if he had his pick, the Denver-native would take his rematch with Silva right now.

Even before Saturday he had said he’s grown tremendously as a fighter since suffering a first round TKO loss in their first meeting.

And after fighting for a grand total of 21 seconds Saturday, Marquardt said he could be ready for that opportunity in just a few months.

“I want that belt and I don’t know who’s going to get the next shot,” Marquardt told fans from the Octagon Saturday. “But if you want someone who’s going to kick Anderson Silva’s butt, you’re going to have to give that shot to me.”

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].

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