and photos by Peter Lockley
Marquardt is already one of the most accomplished fighters
in MMA, and he's only 22 years old. On September 24,
2000, Marquardt defeated Shonie Carter to be crowned
the first middleweight King of Pancrase. No one in the
history of the organization had done it faster-it took
him only nine months. On top of that, he was the youngest
to win the coveted crown, shared by Ken Shamrock, Frank
Shamrock, Bas Rutten and Guy Mezger. At only 21 years
and 5 months old, Marquardt captured the title four
months younger than KOP heavyweight Yuki Kondo.
went back to Japan in October to defend his belt for
the second time. After wearing down his opponent with
some good displays of striking and wrestling, Marquardt
defeated 4th ranked Pancrase challenger Yuji Hoshino
with a triangle choke in the third round. Marquardt
stayed in Japan to train for his fight one month later
against Kiuma Kunioku, whom he had beaten by decision
twice before. Despite showing improved standup techniques
and fighting an evenly matched ground battle, it wasn't
enough. After three rounds the judges gave the fight
to Kinioku in a 2-0-1 decision. Though it was his second
loss in a major title fight (after losing to Gil Castillo
in the IFC), the judging once again came under more
fire than Marquardt's performance.
by his recent losses, "Nate the Great" (a
nickname given to him by a former girlfriend) is ready
to prove that he is still the #1 middleweight in Pancrase
and has what it takes to be the #1 middleweight in the
us about your background and family.
lived in Colorado since I was 8. Before that I lived
near Chicago and in Indiana. I was born in Wyoming.
My mom is a manager at an attorney's office and my dad
does construction. My older brother was an f-16 pilot,
now he instructs other jet fighters. I have two older
sisters, one works for a newspaper in Colorado Springs,
and I have a younger sister too.
did you start training in martial arts?
was 16 years old and I trained in kenpo and shootfighting
under Alistair McNiven.
did you start training at Colorado Stars?
started training at Stars about three years ago.
Waterman, Larry Parker, Duane Ludwig and yourself all
fight out of Colorado Stars. What is the secret with
a relatively small gym in a small town producing so
many good fighters?
(laughs) It was more like we all came together at Stars.
Now we're in the process of producing some good fighters.
When I first started training I wanted to know where
the best place to grapple was . . . I think Ron and
Larry were already training together. I'd seen Larry
in jiu-jitsu and wrestling and I thought he was really
good, so I started to go train with them. I trained
kickboxing with Duane and when he decided to start grappling,
he came to Stars as well. We all pushed each other to
become better fighters [with] better techniques.
was your first fight?
think I was 18, it was right before I came to Stars.
I fought in California. I'd been training for a while
and I had won a bunch of jiu-jitsu tournaments. I never
thought about fighting but my instructor urged me to
compete. There was another one of my teammates who was
going to fight as well, so we trained together.
did your career as a professional fighter begin?
never planned to fight professionally until I won the
Bas Rutten Invitational and Will Hendricks picked me
up. He got me a fight in Pancrase and it wasn't until
after I fought there, that I really had the drive to
did you start fighting full time?
wasn't until this year that I started fighting full
time. When I fought my first fight in Pancrase I was
still going to school, I had a girlfriend, and I was
working full time. I was doing too many things so I
left school, and when I made enough money, I quit my
job and made this my full time job.
did your parents react to your decision to be a professional
were fine with it. It was more when I started fighting
that they didn't like it. The decision was gradual so
us about your conditioning training and diet?
get my physical body ready, I start several things six
weeks before the fight date. I run five times a week,
lift weights three-to-four times a week, do callisthenic
and strength training three times per week, spar and
drill technique six days a week, and stretch everyday.
With all this training, rest and diet are very important.
I usually sleep 10 hours a day and rest on Sunday. I
eat five-to-six times a day and drink a lot of fluids.
Meals always consist of a large amount of protein and
also carbs and fats. I usually get my protein from tuna,
chicken or beef and get my carbs from rice, fruits,
and pasta. I drink protein shakes a few times a day
to supplement my diet. Also, when I am preparing for
a fight, I don't drink any alcohol as it will affect
training on the days and weeks following.
did you become the first middleweight King of Pancrase?
was last year, the first fight was one night; the semi
finals and finals were another night. My first fight
I beat Daiju Takase by KO with a knee. My second fight
was a decision over Kunioku and the final match was
a decision over Shonie Carter
did it feel like to win such a big title?
was always so focused on doing my best that I never
thought about winning or losing. I never had doubted
myself, but when I won, it all kinda hit me at once.
It was very emotional, unbelievable. It was something
I had always dreamed about; it was overwhelming.
has becoming KOP done for you?
has completely changed my life. If I hadn't won that
tournament I probably wouldn't be fighting fulltime
now. I get a lot more recognition as a fighter. I get
to fight better fighters and it lets me stay more focused
on my training.
Pancrase treat you well as champion?
but even when I was staying in Japan last summer before
I was the champion they treated me really well. I'm
not really sure if there's a difference. Pancrase treats
their fighters really well and being a foreigner, everyone
makes me feel at home.
is it like living in the dojo in Japan?
love it. The young boys cook and clean and do my laundry.
I can eat as much as I need-I get free protein and anything
I need for my training. I live in a tiny room and there's
usually a couple other fighters living in there as well,
so that's a little uncomfortable.
have proven yourself in Pancrase. How do you feel you
rank among the rest of the middleweights in the world?
don't feel that there is anyone I can't beat. Even though
I know that I am going to improve and that there are
certain areas that I need to improve upon-and I will-even
right now, I don't think that there is anyone I can't
beat. I also know, at the same time, that I can be beaten
on any given day, but I would never go into a fight
thinking I was going to lose.
there any fighters out there whom you would like to
I want a rematch against Gil Castillo because he beat
me by decision. He was a very strong opponent and I
think it would be good for me to fight him again. Hayato
Sakurai is a really good opponent. He is very technical,
has good standup, good takedowns, good groundwork, and
good submissions. I think that if there was any way
I could fight him in some kind of title fight, it would
be one of the best matches ever.
regards to Castillo, how did that fight go?
was obviously a close fight; it was actually a split
decision. It depends on how you score the match. I wasn't
upset that they declared him the winner because I knew
I had fought well. I was always going for a finish.
He dominated on the positions a lot, though he didn't
attempt any finishes. I don't feel I need to make any
excuses because I fought well and he is a good opponent.
There is no reason for me to feel ashamed of that loss,
but I would like to fight him again because I know the
mistakes I made, so I think I could finish him.
have beaten Shonie Carter and Yves Edwards who recently
fought in the UFC. Do you see yourself fighting in the
octagon in the future?
think it's a good possibility. I don't know when or
even if it'll be soon. I think it's the biggest thing
in the U.S. right now and I live in America, so it is
there anyone you'd like to fight in the UFC?
the champ is, probably Dave Menne. Eventually I want
to go up in weight and fight people in that weight class.
Castillo recently lost to Menne. Do you think you could
I said, I don't think there is anyone I couldn't beat.
I think it would be a good fight. I would be a little
outweighed. I'm about 175 naturally and I think he's
about 185. I think technique-wise, I'd have him standing
and on the ground. He's pretty good standing up, but
I still think I would have the advantage.
you consider yourself more of a grappler or a striker?
don't think there are many guys out there who are as
good at submissions as me, and the guys who are as good
as me in submissions don't have the standup that I have.
I don't think many guys have the standup that I have
either, so I wouldn't consider myself one or the other.
I have been working on takedowns a lot because it has
been one of my weaknesses, so I wouldn't call myself
a wrestler, but I wouldn't say I'm more of a grappler
or striker because I like to do both.
do you train with for striking?
train in Muay Thai and boxing at Stars and at 3-D Martial
Arts in Denver. Duane Ludwig is one of my training partners.
He has excellent technique for Muay Thai and boxing.
I have trained with guys in Japan who fight K-1 or pro
Muay Thai, and Duane is just as good if not better.
Most of the time he teaches me kickboxing techniques
and I teach him grappling.
does your training in Japan differ from your training
in the U.S.?
Japan you have 10-20 pro fighters all in one place at
the same time. I spar six days a week and I train with
three different gyms. I train at a striking gym with
the famous kyokushin fighter Kurosawa. I train with
guys like Yoshiki Takahashi who fought Wallid Ismail
in the UFC, Yuki Kondo, and Kei Yamamiya (P-s Lab).
They're fairly well rounded; they can strike and wrestle.
I train at Grabaka with [Sanae] Kikuta san and [Yuki]
Sasaki and [Akihiro] Gono. Kikuta won at Abu Dhabi this
year (87kg). They're mainly grapplers.
there any fighters in the US who you'd like to train
are lots of fighters who I'd like to train with. Chuck
Liddell is really good, not just at striking but at
the transitions between striking and wrestling.
fighters did you look up to when you started fighting?
Shamrock, because he was really well rounded, and Bas
Rutten for the same reason.
Rutten was at your Pancrase fight in October. He said
he was there to see you. How does it feel to see someone
who you looked up to cheering you on?
was really cool seeing him there; I had no idea he was
going to be there. I could hear him giving me advice
during the fight and it helped.
did you say to the crowd after you won that fight?
konbawa, tsugi wa Kunioku san onegai shimasu. Nihon
daisuki doumo arigato goziamasu.
evening everyone, next time it will be Mr. Kunioku.
I love Japan! Thank you very much)
you learned a lot of Japanese in your trips to Japan?
gone five times. I've learned basic words and phrases
but I need to take a class to really learn to speak
differences have you noticed about Japanese culture
that you like?
you can take almost anything over here and notice differences.
They are really polite here and they think about the
way their actions will affect other people. In America
it's more about how it's going to affect me, which is
good and bad, because in America people are more independent.
Also, it's really common to see a 26 year old person
living with their parents here, even a 35 year old,
because unless you're married, there's no reason to
move out. They think about how things affect each other.
you like living at home in the U.S.?
good; my mom helps me out. I don't have to worry about
having food in the fridge. I've lived on my own before
but it gets lonely, so I like living with my mom and
you consider yourself close to your family?
very close. Both my parents have really helped me and
supported me. If it wasn't for them I wouldn't be where
I'm at right now.
it like being famous in Japan?
quite a bit different because in Colorado no one really
knows what NHB or MMA is, and those who do know about
it, only know because of the first UFCs and they don't
really understand where it's at now. In Japan, even
people who aren't fans understand what I do because
it's just a part of their culture.
the fans different?
you can take the average person off the street in Japan
and they will sit and watch and look for techniques
and things like that. If you take a person off the street
in America, they'll wonder what he's doing and why he's
not hitting him.
you used to being in the spotlight?
I'm still a little shy so it's a little uncomfortable,
but it's getting easier.
do you think needs to be done in the U.S. to make MMA
as popular as it is in Japan?
think it's up to the promoters and the fighters. Some
of the American ground and pound fighters are pretty
boring to watch. I think it's up to the fighters to
learn how to do submissions and striking and make it
a spectator sport rather than just getting a decision
win because you took him down once each round and hit
him in the ribs for 5 minutes. Also, I think it's up
to the promoters to make their shows exciting to watch
and not choose fighters just because they win, but because
of how they fight. That's what makes a fighter famous
over here, it's not whether he wins or loses, it's how
you prefer fighting in the ring or cage?
prefer the ring, because this is a sport for the audience,
I think that's the most important thing. I don't mind
the cage if you can push off the fence, then it's good.
You can use the ring in the same way, you can pin people
in the corners, but I think there's less chance of getting
hurt in the ring because it's more flexible.
does being a fighter affect your social life?
ok, I can't go out every night and when I go out I can't
drink, but I think that's a good thing.
is the best thing about being a fighter?
get to tell girls I'm a fighter (laughs). I love Martial
Arts and that's what I do, so I guess the best part
is that I do what I love. Fighting is so challenging,
there is so much to learn, so many styles and strategies.
You have to have endurance and strength, you have to
be aggressive and calm, you have to be an athlete. I
don't think there is any aspect of an athlete that mixed
martial arts doesn't include.
do girls think of it?
surprised at first, but I think they kinda like it.
I've got two things going for me in Japan, I'm American
and I'm a fighter, back home I'm just a fighter.
is the hardest thing about MMA?
physically draining, it's hard work, it's tough to deal
with all the injuries all the time. I'm trying to gain
weight so I have to eat all the time. It's mentally
draining too, always having to put in 100% every day.
This part, being in another country away from family
and friends is hard too.
are your long term goals as a fighter?
term, I want to improve technique and my strength. I
want to go up in weight eventually. After fighting I
want stay in this business, whether it's teaching full
time in my own gym, managing fighters, or being a promoter.
I think it would be a waste to spend so many years training
and not pass it on.
you could do anything else besides mixed martial arts,
what would it be?
from MMA, I would probably be some other kind of athlete.
I was always involved in sports; my parents would ask
me what I wanted to be and I always wanted to be whatever
I was doing at the time whether it be soccer, basketball,
or whatever. When I went to college I never really knew
what I wanted to be so it felt like a waste of time,
so I would say I would still be an athlete of some kind.
your most recent fight against Kunioku, you lost the
title, how did you feel about the decision and your
of course I'm upset about losing my title. I didn't
really agree with the decision, but sometimes that's
the way it goes in this business. I was more upset about
that (my performance). I thought I was winning so I
started to play it safe and not take too many chances
because I was winning. Looking back it didn't matter,
so I'm upset that I didn't take more chances.
fought Kunioku twice before and you won both times by
close decisions. Did you think if it went to a decision,
they would give it to Kunioku?
I had planned on finishing him. I didn't think it would
go to a decision. During the fight I thought that it
might go to a decision, but I thought I was going to
win the decision.
you had fought Kunioku before, was it easy to prepare
mentally for this fight?
really. I knew he was a powerful and tricky opponent.
Personally, I like to know little about my opponent
before the fight so that way I can do all of my thinking
in the ring.
does this loss do for you?
can learn a lot of things from it. I made a few technical
mistakes that I have to correct. I should never count
on winning a decision. I should always take chances
no matter where we are in the match. I can look at it
as a good thing for me because now I have to work harder
to get the title back. It makes me hungry to train harder
and get the title again. Sometime in the beginning of
next year I'm going to Brazil to train with someone,
but it's undecided still where it's going to be.
22 years old you are already a King of Pancrase, what
do you want to do next?
lots of money!
a fighter, do you have any goals that you haven't accomplished
lots of money!