In the night’s main event, former middleweight title challenger Nate “The Great” Marquardt will make his debut at 170-pounds when he battles the relentless Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. An outstanding heavyweight co-main event pits fierce kickboxer Pat “HD” Barry against feared French striker Cheick Kongo. Plus, heavyweights Christian Morecraft and Matt Mitrione are set to collide in the city known for its world champion Steelers and Penguins.
“Nate Marquardt is an incredible athlete and his size and strength could make him a force in the UFC welterweight division,” UFC President Dana White said. “He’s not getting an easy fight for his first time at 170 pounds though. ‘Rumble’ has knockout power and great wrestling, and will make a huge statement if he beats Nate.
“I really love the Barry-Kongo fight,” White continued. “Both of these guys love to stand and trade and both come from kickboxing backgrounds. I expect it to be a war in that fight.”
UFC® Fight Club™ members will have the opportunity to purchase tickets to this event on Thursday, April 21 at 10 a.m. ET via the website ufcfightclub.com. A special Internet ticket pre-sale will be available to UFC newsletter subscribers on Friday, April 22 starting at 10 a.m. ET. To access this presale, users must register for the UFC newsletter through ufc.com.
A former challenger to the UFC middleweight title, Nate Marquardt (fighting out of Denver, Colo. / 34-10-2) makes his welterweight debut in Pittsburgh and hopes to spark a run toward a championship. Known for his well-rounded game which includes a blend of knockout power and grappling efficiency, the 31-year-old believes a fight with Johnson is a perfect way to launch his career at 170-pounds.
“I feel like I can be the best fighter at 170,” Marquardt, who owns wins over the likes of Dan Miller, Rousimar Palhares and Martin Kampmann, said. “In my last fight (at middleweight), I felt really great and I noticed that I was lighter. So I think my body might be better suited for this weight class.
“Anthony Johnson is a good striker and he’s a former junior college national wrestling champion,” Marquardt continued. “I have a lot of respect for him in that regard. I just know that my skills are better in each area and I plan on coming out on top.”
Fresh off a victory over top contender Dan Hardy, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (fighting out of San Jose, Calif./9-3) returns to the Octagon® for a pivotal collision with Marquardt in Pennsylvania. Recognized for his tremendous power and wrestling prowess, the 27-year-old has won four out of his last five and believes a win over “The Great” would be the signature victory his record needs.
“This is definitely the biggest fight of my career and it’s going to be against the toughest guy I’ve ever fought,” Johnson said. “At first, I was really surprised to hear that Nate was heading to welterweight. But it only adds fuel to the fire in this weight class. He is a great opponent with a lot of experience and I need to be sharper than I’ve ever been for this fight.”
His vicious leg kicks and charismatic personality have made Pat Barry (fighting out of Milwaukee, Wisc./6-2) one of the heavyweight division’s most popular fighters in recent months. After defeating Joey Beltran by decision in January, the 31-year-old New Orleans native is set to battle feared French competitor Cheick Kongo (fighting out of Paris, France/25-6-2) on June 26 in what could be an early candidate for Fight of the Night. Kongo, who has taken on top competition that includes Mirko Cro Cop, Cain Velasquez and Frank Mir, is eager to prove that he is the best kickboxer in the division and plans on knocking out the K-1 veteran Barry when the two meet this summer.
Another intriguing heavyweight bout pits The Ultimate Fighter® veteran Matt Mitrione (fighting out of Indianapolis, Ind./4-0) against young gun Christian Morecraft (fighting out of Ithaca, N.Y./7-1). A former NFL player, the 32-year-old Mitrione is unbeaten in four UFC bouts and has scored impressive stoppages in three of those contests. He’ll face a stern test in the 24-year-old Morecraft, who submitted Sean McCorkle in his last UFC contest in March.