Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

UFC: Rivals hungry to break losing streak

Nate Marquardt says he's "prepared for the best James Te Huna". Picture / Brett Phibbs
Nate Marquardt says he's "prepared for the best James Te Huna". Picture / Brett Phibbs

It's hard to decide who needs to win more for the sake of his career.

Both James Te Huna and Nate Marquardt are changing weight divisions and coming off consecutive losses ahead of their main event middleweight showdown at UFC Fight Night 43 at Vector Arena in Auckland tomorrow night.

Losing streaks are your biggest enemy in the UFC and those who put together lengthy ones don't tend to hold onto their job for long.

New Zealand's Te Huna dropped his past two outings at light heavyweight and decided a move to middleweight was in order to shake up a fighting career which he said had gone stale.

Marquardt, a former welterweight champion in the defunct Strikeforce, lost that belt in January last year and made a torrid return to the UFC, where he has suffered back-to-back first-round knockout defeats.

The 35-year-old veteran of the fight game also decided to do something different so he made the call to move back up to middleweight where he has fought for a majority of his career, which began in 1999.

Few would have predicted his next UFC bout would be a main event and Marquardt said he hadn't thought about the what-ifs of another loss.

"The fight in front of you is always your most important fight," he said.

"I'm prepared for the best James Te Huna."

Having home-field advantage may play into Te Huna's hands but one asset Marquardt (32-13-2) does have is main-event experience. He has headlined cards in the past, including an unsuccessful middleweight title tilt against Anderson Silva at UFC 73 in 2007.

In 47 professional mixed martial arts bouts, Marquardt has also fought through five rounds twice, while Te Huna (16-7) has never gone past the standard three. Five-round fights are usually reserved for title shots and since late 2011 all UFC main event bouts are slated for five rounds.

"It's definitely better when you have experience with those things," Marquardt said.

Te Huna, 32, will enjoy a height and reach advantage and said he would rely on adrenalin to take him through the fourth and fifth rounds if the fight goes deep.

"I'm pretty confident about my cardio at the moment and my stamina and my conditioning. But having the crowd behind me, being in my home country, is going to give me even more motivation," he said.

"Kiwis are really passionate about their sports and I think that crowd ... is going to be pretty loud."

Tomorrow's event marks the first time the UFC has brought a show to New Zealand and the card features 10 fights.

Auckland's Dan Hooker will debut on the undercard in a featherweight bout against Englishman Ian Entwistle, while Kiwi-born Australian Robert Whittaker will kick off the main card in a welterweight scrap with American Mike Rhodes.

In the co-main event, Australian heavyweight Soa "The Hulk" Palelei, ranked 14th in the division, will square off against American Jared "The Big Show" Rosholt.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 23 Oct 2014 22:31:04 Processing Time: 249ms