Pound for Pound: Nate Marquardt

Questions abound about fighter’s testosterone use.

Chad Dundasby Chad Dundas

With each passing day, it feels less and less likely that we’ll ever see Nate Marquardt in the Octagon again.

The longtime middleweight contender was unexpectedly expelled from his scheduled welterweight debut at UFC Live 4 on Sunday and then fired from the company altogether after high levels of testosterone made him medically ineligible to fight in the show’s main event. Marquardt appeared on reporter Ariel Helwani’s popular web-based radio show the following Tuesday and though he sounded remorseful and credible in most of his claims, the UFC has given no indication it’ll backtrack on its decision to release him.

To date, the company has done a pretty good job focusing most of the public’s attention on Marquardt and allegations that he’s been gaming the system. In addition, public reaction to Marquardt’s appearance has ranged from sympathy for his plight to vehement outcry against him as a cheater. Yet even as the fighter remains hopeful he’ll be invited back into the fold one day, some of the statements he made on Tuesday raise questions about the actions of the UFC, too.

Marquardt’s story is essentially this: He turned to his doctor last year after an extended period of feeling not at all himself – fatigued, moody and suffering for some memory loss. Marquardt said he was diagnosed with low testosterone and began hormone replacement therapy in August, 2010. He also said he told the UFC about it as soon as he started the treatments.

The perennial title contender fought three times in the Octagon since beginning the treatments and apparently everything was fine until he failed to receive clearance last Saturday from the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission to fight Rick Story on TV. After that, Marquardt was quickly pink-slipped and UFC President Dana White went on television the following night to say he was “disgusted” with the fighter and that Marquardt had no business ever fighting in the Octagon again.

The implication of course is that the company just found out about Marquardt’s testosterone replacement over the weekend, but the fighter seems to allege UFC brass knew well before that. With Chael Sonnen about to return to the middleweight division in apparently good standing after copping to his own hormone therapy in front of the California commission a few month back, it calls to attention the company's policy on these matters.

Sonnen and Marquardt appear guilty of the same crime, yet Marquardt was fired while Sonnen is being welcomed back. So, did Marquardt’s firing really have more to do with the fact that he cost the company money by getting his fight against Story scrapped than with his medical treatments? It seems so, unless there’s something we don’t know about going on.

Either way, I think the UFC was perfectly justified in releasing him, but a more coherent explanation about why it did would be helpful at this point.