Nate Marquardt had earned his stripes as one of the best middleweights in the developmental stages of MMA, but now, as a reborn welterweight, Marquardt has again emerged as one of the most formidable forces the division has seen. He faced an undefeated blue chip prospect for the vacant Strikeforce welterweight championship, and Tyron Woodley certainly had his moments, but it was Marquardt who surged in the 4th round with vicious elbows and uppercuts that left his opponent collapsed.
As the new Strikeforce welterweight champion Marquardt reaches yet another milestone in his illustrious career. As a former UFC contender, however, speculation will almost certainly center on potential match-ups against the UFC’s stacked welterweight division. Marquardt’s caliber is evident, but as a welterweight debutant, he has more to show in order to lay claim to the UFC’s best.
1. Georges St. Pierre (UFC welterweight champion)
Injury has kept the champion off the shelf for over a year, and under other circumstances the champion’s rank would likely drop, but “GSP” is one of the greatest fighters in history and still has big fights ahead of him at only 31 years of age.
2. Carlos Condit (UFC interim welterweight champion)
Condit had a smart game plan and out-pointed Nick Diaz to claim the interim-championship. While plenty of other contenders loom, “The Natural Born Killer” is biding his time to unify the belts against the incomparable St. Pierre.
3. Nick Diaz
Diaz’s one-year marijuana related suspension seems a bit ridiculous, but perhaps all that waiting will make it much more exciting to see the welterweight division’s bad boy return to action.
4. Martin Kampmann
The veteran scored the biggest knockout of his career by putting away Ellenberger, and with wins over the likes of Condit and other top fighters, he is one of the most accomplished and exciting fighters in the division.
5. Johny Hendricks
With huge back to back wins over stalwarts Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck, Hendricks has already made his case for top contendership. He will face Kampmann in a true title eliminator later this year.
6. Josh Koshcheck
One of the original prototypes for modern wrestlers with advanced striking prowess, Koscheck has one of the most extended stays among the top of the division.
7. Jake Ellenberger
He is arguably the hardest hitter in the division and he should learn from the first knockout loss of his impressive career and come back even stronger.
8. Jon Fitch
Fitch seemed a bit more aggressive and was caught on the button just 12 seconds into his fight with Hendricks. The former title challenger has unfortunately been recently frustrated by injury.
9. Diego Sanchez
Sanchez can scrap with the best in the world and he has an intensity dial that goes to 11. Whoever he fights, fans should be excited when Sanchez steps into the octagon.
10. TIE. Rory MacDonald and Nate Marquardt (Strikeforce welterweight champion)
MacDonald is a young prodigy and Marquardt is an invigorated veteran. Both are coming off of vicious victories over respectable competition and could very well be moving up in the next half year.