Nate "The Great" Marquardt (30-9-2) debuted in MMA back in 1999. He has been the middleweight King of Pancrase on three separate occasions, and has defeated some of the top fighters in the octagon.

But is Nate Marquardt finally ready to win UFC gold?

Next Saturday, the former King of Pancrase will take on Yushin Okami in a No. 1 contender's bout, and the winner will face the Vitor Belfort/Anderson Silva victor.

In Marquardt's only shot at the title, Anderson Silva gave him a beating, and the fight lasted shorter than a Las Vegas marriage.

Also, in his last two No. 1 contender bouts, Marquardt dropped the ball with losses to Thales Leites (albeit controversially) and Chael Sonnen.

Since the loss to Sonnen, Marquardt got back on track by defeating Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist Rousimar Palhares by TKO in the first round. However, while I feel Marquardt did no wrong by capitalizing on Palhares when he was talking to the referee, some feel that Marquardt was fighting dirty.

Marquardt has defeated Demian Maia, Wilson Gouveia, Martin Kampmann, Jeremy Horn and Dean Lister, but if he is to win the gold, he needs to improve his takedown defense dramatically to secure his shot at the title.

Marquardt has a great shot in his fight against Okami, because as great a fighter Okami is, in the big fights he's been very hesitant to pull the trigger. However, I don't think Marquardt has quite got what it takes to beat Vitor Belfort or Anderson Silva.

I mean this as no disrespect to Marquardt, because he is very talented, but I can't envision him doing any better against Silva. If Belfort beats Silva, I couldn't imagine Marquardt besting Belfort after ending Silva's dominant reign either.