Nate Marquardt's welterweight debut was watched closely, and not just because it was a title-fight but also because many wanted to see how the middleweight was going to make the transition down to 170 pounds. Analysts were given sixteen minutes of footage to sift through, though any expected holes weren’t there and Marquardt’s transition looked almost flawless. Sure, Marquardt had more than a year to change everything, but there is always a question of whether fighters who change divisions will be as quick or as strong as they were before.

However, Marquardt passed those two tests with flying colors and  knocked out Tyron Woodley in the second minute of the fourth round.

Tarec Saffiedine would seem to have an uphill battle in this fight dealing with the experience on the side of Marquardt. There is no arguing that Saffiedine is a well rounded fighter, but trying to bridge the gap between well rounded and being a champion will push him to his limits. Saffiedine will have to deal with a Marquardt that will be coming forward and cutting off the cage, and the most difficult thing for him to do will be to grapple with Marquardt on his terms. Saffiedine shouldn’t plan on sweeping Marquardt from the bottom if he gets taken down, and in order for Saffiedine to utilize his grappling he will need to initiate the takedown himself or keep Marquardt’s back on the fence.

The odds have been hovering around -300 in favor of Marquardt and deservedly so. I’m hesitant to use the word swarm, since I don’t think he will come out throwing hands like a nineteen year old Vitor Belfort, but pressure should come early and often. Basically, "Nate the Great" needs to handle a guy like Saffiedine with ease if he wants to catapult himself into UFC title-contention, and if he wants to leapfrog anyone in line he is going to need to finish Saffiedine early in the tilt. Saffiedine is savvy enough to last a round, but I think he will run out of answers for Marquardt’s pressure sometime late in the second or early in the third.

PHOTO CREDIT: Strikeforce

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