Things get started early for UFC fans stateside on Saturday, as Nate Marquardt and James Te Huna will exchange firepower live from New Zealand in UFC Fight Night 43. Fans in the east can expect to enjoy the main event over a cup of coffee and some eggs while also using it as a lead-up to UFC Fight Night 44, which is happening later in the day.
The Marquardt-Te Huna bout headlines a card that's not particularly rich with interesting bouts but falls in line with the UFC's commitment to regionalism in its programming so far in 2014. The fight itself is decent insomuch as it pits two sputtering contenders against one another at a time when they're both reinventing themselves, but it offers little else.
Little else, that is, beyond that standard level of danger that comes with exchanging head kicks with one's fellow man. With that in mind, there are some notable keys to victory for both men at a time when neither can afford to lose for a third (Te Huna) or fourth (Marquardt) time in a row.
For Marquardt, a middleweight-turned-welterweight-turned-middleweight, it's going to be pretty simple: avoid Te Huna's notable strength and size advantage. The New Zealander is a hulk of a man, one who wasn't small at light heavyweight and who has respectable athleticism to match his sheer physicality.
If Marquardt gets entangled in any sort of brawl, there's a very good chance he's going to be kissing the Auckland canvas in short order, as Te Huna has power by the bucketful and Marquardt's been knocked out by 170-pounders in his last two outings.
On the other side of the ledger, if Te Huna is to be successful, he's going to need to be measured in his attack but incredibly forceful when it comes time to turn it on. A 20-pound weight drop is no joke, and that's what he's doing for the first time in his bout at UFN 43—dropping from light heavyweight to middleweight.
He needs to use his gas tank conservatively but not concernedly, picking his spots and then using his advantages without remorse when he commits.
You can expect Marquardt to notice a difference going back up from 170, where he was usually larger than his opponent, to face a monster of a middleweight who was known for power and strength as a 205-pounder. You can also expect Te Huna to stick with the power and strength that got him to the dance.
The man who comes out on top will be the one who can better manage that situation and implement his own attack.
If Marquardt can stay technical and disciplined, he has a hope; if Te Huna can disrupt that with his advantage of physical tools, he'll make quick work of The Great and look pretty great in his own right by doing it.