- Brett Okamoto, ESPN Staff Writer
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Rick Story is earning a lot of high marks for his willingness to accept a fight against Nate Marquardt on just four weeks' notice -- as he should. It’s one of the more challenging things to do in the sport, as well as a potentially risky move for a guy riding a six-fight win streak.
But at the end of the day, Story is right on the money when he describes the June 26 fight as “opportunity.”
“I look at it as opportunity,” said Story, on a conference call Tuesday. “I don’t look at it as a risk. If they came at me with another one of the top guys at 170 in the same time frame, I would have accepted it.”
My question is: What exactly is Story risking in this fight?
Despite a brilliant performance against Thiago Alves in late May, he wasn’t in a position to sit and wait for a title shot. He tried calling out fellow welterweight Jon Fitch, who dismissed him as one might absently wave away a pesky fly.
Story wanted to keep busy and really, minus the short notice, this is a near-perfect scenario for him.
By stepping in for the injured Anthony Johnson, Story gets to co-headline an event; something which likely wouldn’t have happened otherwise. He faces a high-profile opponent in Marquardt, who’s already being looked at as a potential threat to the title, despite the fact he’s dropping below 185 pounds for the first time in six years.
Admittedly, four weeks is a shorter break from the Octagon than Story had in mind after he decisioned Alves. But would it not have been just as big of a “risk” to take time off and fight another top 170-pounder, possibly one with less name-recognition than Marquardt in a non-headlining fight?
“We requested for a fight quick -- maybe not so quick,” Story said. “But with Anthony Johnson dropping out we jumped on that opportunity.
“I just look at is as, in the division, if you’re fighting anywhere at the top, you’re going to have your hands full.”
While on the surface it might seem as though Story is assuming a lot of risk in this fight, my take on it is the guy seems a perfect fit for the role given the situation.
Clearly, he likes to compete. In 2008, while trying to make a name for himself and break into the UFC, Story fought six times -- twice within the span of 41 days. On one of those occasions, he bested Jake Ellenberger in a unanimous decision, one of the more impressive wins on his resume.
I get why it’s being looked at as a gutsy move for Story and agree that it is -- but really, it could turn out to be one of the biggest breaks of his career.
“I’d have to win maybe one more fight if it’s a decision win,” said Story, on whether or not beating Marquardt would give him a title shot. “If it’s a finish, I don’t know. A finish over an opponent like Nate would put me in a position where I deserve the shot even more.”