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Nate Marquardt says UFC, Anderson Silva will get the message this time

Winner of four of his last five, Marquardt says he’s one win away from title shot

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Las Vegas Sun

Middleweight Nate Marquardt kicks a bag during a workout at the Mandalay Bay Events Center Wednesday, February 3, 2010. Marquardt will fight Chael Sonnen at the events center on Saturday.

UFC 109 workouts

Middleweight fighter Chael Sonnen works out with Matt Lindland at the Mandalay Bay Events Center Wednesday, February 3, 2010. Sonnen will fight Nate Marquardt in UFC 109 at the events center on Saturday. Launch slideshow »

When Nate Marquardt knocked out the undefeated Demian Maia in just 21 seconds on Aug. 29 in Portland, Ore., he was sure he had sent a message to the UFC.

Apparently, he was wrong.

So, if the middleweight contender is able to defeat Chael Sonnen (25-10-1) Saturday at UFC 109 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Marquardt (32-8-2) is going to make sure his message gets heard this time.

"Yeah, for sure," said Marquardt, when asked if he'll call out current champ Anderson Silva immediately after the fight. "I might have to. I've tried everything else."

Out of all the scenarios that could have played out in the UFC middleweight division over the past six months, fighting Sonnen at UFC 109 is not the one Marquardt was hoping for.

In fact, fighting Sonnen at UFC 109 — with no disrespect to Sonnen — was pretty much at the bottom of the list.

"My manager pretty much told me there was no one else to fight," Marquardt said. "He said, 'Vitor Belfort's getting the title shot and Dan Henderson is gone. He's the only guy left.'"

After a potential matchup with Henderson fell through when Henderson left the organization for Strikeforce, it seemed clear to Marquardt that he would finally get a second shot at the title after losing to Silva in 2007.

Instead, Belfort somehow jumped ahead of Marquardt with a win over Rich Franklin in September. It was a surprising move, considering Marquardt had won four of his last five fights and Belfort hadn't competed in the UFC since 2005.

Even Sonnen, who has had nothing but nice things to say about his opponent leading up to Saturday, said he had expected Marquardt to fight for the belt.

"I thought he would get the title shot," Sonnen said. "I get it. If I'm a promoter, I put Vitor in because he's a bigger draw. But (Marquardt) climbed the ladder and he did everything you would think it would take to get there.

"I was surprised. I was hoping he would get a title shot."

As a member of professional mixed martial arts since 1999, Marquardt knows that creating a little animosity between himself and Silva would go a long way into persuading the UFC to create that matchup.

However, the soft-spoken fighter said he's willing to take the long road in order to preserve his image to fans and sponsors.

"I just feel that's not what I want to portray to little kids who are watching," Marquardt said of his lack of trash-talk. "I want to display good sportsmanship. I think sponsors are more willing to promote a guy like me than a loudmouth. The way I'm doing it is the hard way, but it's the right way."

Unlike when he fought Maia, Marquardt has been guaranteed by UFC officials the next title shot with a win Saturday.

But Marquardt knows a fight isn't official until the contracts are signed, and there's reason to believe Silva would be hesitant to do so.

It's become clear the Brazilian is interested in other challenges, including a return to the light heavyweight division where he recorded a knockout win over Forrest Griffin in August.

Marquardt said he's fearful that Silva could put off a title defense to pursue fighting at 205 pounds again — which is why if Marquardt's able to defeat Sonnen, we may finally hear him speak up.

"I haven't really talked to the UFC about it, but that's definitely something I'm worried about," Marquardt said. "I'd be very upset if he did that. I hope he stays at 185 pounds and I'll call him out regardless of what he does. I want to fight the true champion."

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected]. Also follow him on twitter: LVSunFighting.

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