Vet Mar­quardt to fight Alvey on UFC card at Pepsi Cen­ter

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nick Groke

Nate Mar­quardt, a god­fa­ther of Colorado mixed mar­tial arts, can re­mem­ber a time when find­ing a gym with hy­brid dis­ci­plines was easy — there was only one. More than 20 years later, Mar­quardt’s MMA ca­reer will come full cir­cle when the 37-year-old vet­eran fights for the first time in Den­ver on a ma­jor UFC card.

Mar­quardt (38-16-2) will face Mil­wau­kee’s Sam Alvey (29-8-0) in a na­tion­ally tele­vised “UFC on Fox” card at the Pepsi Cen­ter on Jan. 28. The UFC will re­turn to Den­ver for the first time since 2012, when Colorado na­tive Ben­son Hen­der­son de­feated Frankie Edgar at UFC 150.

Mar­quardt’s MMA roots dig to the be­gin­ning of UFC in the early 1990s.

A hand­ful of MMA fight­ers ex­isted be­fore Mar­quardt, and a flood of them were born since he started. But his ca­reer path is un­usu­ally long.

Mar­quardt fought from re­gional cir­cuits to Ja­pan, where he won the Pan­crase mid­dleweight cham­pi­onship on three sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions. Then he re­turned to Amer­ica to win a wel­ter­weight ti­tle in the Strike­force cir­cuit in 2012 by knock­ing out Ty­ron Wood­ley — the cur­rent UFC wel­ter­weight ti­tlist — with strikes in the fourth round.

In 2007, he rose through UFC to earn a ti­tle fight against An­der­son Silva at UFC 73 in Sacra­mento, Calif. Silva earned a TKO with punches in the first round. But Mar­quardt held on to ti­tle con­tention op­por­tu­ni­ties through 2012.

Mar­quardt last fought in Den­ver in 2007, on a small­cir­cuit card in be­tween his tour of Ja­pan. But he has never fought in his home­town on a UFC card. Af­ter an im­pres­sive knock­out of Tam­dan McCrory at UFC Fight Night in Port­land in Oc­to­ber — Mar­quardt won a knock­out with a head kick in the sec­ond round — he was soon of­fered the fight in Den­ver. And his re­turn was set.

“They’ve had so many shows here. I thought it was weird they never wanted me on one of those cards,” Mar­quardt said. “I wanted to fight here. But I didn’t want to ask for it.”

Tick­ets for the Jan. 28 UFC on Fox card at Pepsi Cen­ter went on sale Fri­day. UFC said it will an­nounce the re­main­der of the card soon.

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