After weeks of speculation the future of exiled UFC fighter Nate Marquardt has finally been revealed – the former middleweight No.1 contender has signed for fast rising UK promotion BAMMA.
“I’m very excited to be working with BAMMA,” Marquardt tells ESPN.com “They hold sports regulation in high regard and mandate it for their athletes. They are also known for signing top-level fighters and I want to fight the best. I can’t wait to show everyone what I’m capable of in the welterweight division.”
This is a major deal for BAMMA, with Marquardt undoubtedly being their biggest signing to date and indicating that they are ready to compete with other leading promotions such as Strikeforce, Bellator, DREAM and the newly rebooted ProElite.
On BAMMA’s official website Marquardt references his recent suspension for Performance Enhancing Drugs which lead to his dismissal from the UFC.
“[BAMMA] are also the only fight organization in the UK that implements PED testing. To be honest, that is one of the main reasons that we chose BAMMA. I want to prove to my fans and to the world that I’m the real deal and that I belong on top.”
While it’s good news that Marquardt finally has a new home, and BAMMA are certainly making some good strides in the right direction lately, establishing themselves as Europe’s leading promotion, this is still a big step down from competing at the highest level in the UFC, and the biggest question now is whether they can provide the quality of opposition that will keep him relevant in the sport.
Within the current BAMMA roster lies a number of familiar names – other ex UFC fighters such as Paul Daley, Frank Trigg and Efrain Escudero for instance along with other well travelled veterans likes Tom ‘Kong’ Watson and Joey Villasenor – but there isn’t the strength in depth in their divisions, particularly in the likes of the 170lb weight class where Marquardt is currently aiming to fight.
BAMMA are promising that more fighters will be incoming soon however, and in terms of the core business they have built a good infrastructure with their shows now airing live in the UK on SYFY UK, while they recently signed a new distribution deal with Content Media which will see their future live events and existing archive footage delivered throughout the rest of the world.
In essence BAMMA are now taking up the mantle of the UK’s former biggest promotion Cage Rage which ran from 2002-2008 and at one stage played host to a number of upcoming and international stars such as Anderson Silva, Vitor Belfort, Michael Bisping and Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva to name but a few.
Despite that level of talent the promotion struggled to make headway and eventually folded as so many others have done both before and since. Whether BAMMA can find the right formula to become a successful and long-lasting part of the MMA landscape remains to be seen.