Last month, one of the most seasoned veterans of the sport closed the book on his fighting career.
Nate Marquardt, a long-time UFC contender and a former Strikeforce welterweight champion, announced that he was no longer looking to compete in MMA, putting an end to his 17-year-long career as a professional fighter.
The 38-year-old Marquardt, who’s been very quiet since announcing his retirement, spoke to MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani on Monday about his decision to hang up the gloves and his life post-retirement among other things.
“I just believe it’s time,” Marquardt explained on The MMA Hour. “That’s (retirement) something that I’ve been contemplating for a while. Ever since I became Christian in 2013, I wanted to do missions and I started seminary this last fall. I’ve completed one semester of seminary and it’s just kind of the timing of everything: the way my last couple of fights went and also I just had nose surgery, so that kind of played into it a little bit. I kind of figured it was a good time and I could focus on seminary and on my sports ministry that I have.”
Marquardt will be dedicating his time to something completely different than what he’s been used to for almost the past two decades. “The Great” started seminary – a college that prepares students to become pastors or ministers – in fall and hopes top get a degree there so he can be eligible to work as a missionary for the International Missions Board. Marquardt also started a sports ministry in mid 2017 where he’s been teaching jiu-jitsu for free to both kids and adults.
Marquardt’s desire to work as a missionary is one of the main reasons why he decided to retire from MMA, but admits if things would’ve gone a bit different in his most recent UFC bouts, then maybe he would’ve still been fighting in the Octagon.
“I guess with my last three fights, and especially my last two, I really felt that I won the fights,” Marquardt said. “I felt it was just kind of strange that I had three (losses) in a row that were close decisions that just didn’t go my way. I really felt with the [Vitor] Belfort fight, and even with [Cezar] Ferreira, that I won two of the three rounds.
“So if I would’ve won that fight, I guess I would’ve continued fighting and doing the seminary. But the fact that it happened that way, I kind of think that it was God calling me that way, in that direction, so that I’m able to commit all my time to seminary and my sports ministry.
“So yeah, and the fact that I was told to get a CAT scan on my head after the fight because they saw I had a little swelling. So my nose has been broken multiple times in the past years, so I knew it was broken but it wasn’t anything big for me. They told me I had to see the ENT and the doctor was like telling me that it was really important to get my nose fixed. So all those things, just the culmination of them made me realize that it was time.”
Marquardt walks away from MMA with a lengthy professional record of 35–19–2. His most significant accolade was when he became the Strikeforce welterweight champion – in his short stint as an 170-pound fighter – with his highlight-reel knockout over current UFC welterweight champ Tyron Woodley.
Marquardt never got his hands on UFC gold, but he did challenge a prime Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight strap, where he lost via technical knockout. Even without a UFC title under wing, Marquardt managed to be one of the best middleweight fighters for several years, defeating notable opposition such as Jeremy Horn, Martin Kampmann, Wilson Gouveia, Demian Maia and Rousimar Palhares.
With a good deal of achievements under his belt, Marquardt finds it hard to pick a specific moment in his career that stands out the most. The seasoned veteran believes it’s the collection of moments that made his career great, and not a specific event or achievement.
“I mean it’s all been a lot of fun,” Marquardt said looking back ah his career. “I can’t think of necessarily one fight, but I think if you look at my highlight reel that’s probably some of my more fond memories.
“Definitely Pancrase was a great time and Strikeforce, winning the belt against Tyron Woodley, that was a great fight and probably one of the best fights of my career. And Wilson Gouveia, that was another good one.
So I don’t know, it’s all been great. All the memories I have of training too with all the best guys in the world, all the time I spent training with guys like Georges St-Pierre, Keith Jardine, Rashad Evans, Stephen Thompson, all these guys. It’s really been a wonderful career and a wonderful experience for me.”