Marquardt free to return to the cage

Nate Marquardt is now free to return to the cage, but is still looking for an MMA promotion. AP Photo/Jack Dempsey

Nate Marquardt is now free to return to the cage, as today the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission voted to lift the middleweight's suspension.

Marquardt, 32, was scheduled to make his welterweight debut against Rick Story in the main event of UFC Live 4 on June 26, but the former King of Pancrase was pulled from the bout the day before the fight after testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone.

According to the fighter, he began suffering symptoms of low testosterone last summer and was placed on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) by his primary care physician. After receiving treatment for several months, the fighter then applied for a therapeutic use exemption in New Jersey prior to his fight with Dan Miller at UFC 128.

Marquardt was granted permission to fight Miller, but the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board requested that the fighter have his condition verified by a board-certified endocrinologist before the NJSACB would sanction a full-on TRT exemption.

Marquardt then came off treatment for eight weeks, according to the fighter, in compliance with the NJSACB's requirements. However, with his fight with Story looming, Marquardt returned to his primary care physician, who recommended he undergo more aggressive treatment in an effort to combat his returning symptoms. The NJSACB informed Pennsylvania of Marquardt's situation as the fight drew nearer, and the fighter was required to take several pre-fight tests by the PSAC.

The last test was administered the day of the weigh-ins. When Marquardt's sample showed his testosterone level was above the allowable limit, he was removed from the contest by the PSAC. The middleweight was immediately cut from the UFC roster and became the target of a scathing critique from UFC President Dana White, who stated on a live television broadcast that he was “disgusted” by the turn of events and that Marquardt had “no business fighting in the UFC.”

Marquardt's representation today released a statement regarding the fighter's lifted suspension:

“Today Nate Marquardt was taken off suspension by the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission. This comes less than three weeks after not being medically cleared to fight at UFC on Versus 4 in Pittsburgh and being placed on suspension. Nate is no longer restricted from fighting in any jurisdiction and is looking forward to competing in mixed martial arts again as soon as possible.

“He is currently fielding a large number of offers from several MMA promotions and is excited at the wide range of options he has before him. Nate is still one of the best MMA fighters in the world and will resume his career in the sport after deciding which venue is right for him. He felt very comfortable with the drop to welterweight and will most likely compete in that weight class. Nate would like to thank his sponsors, family, and friends who supported him through this difficult time.”

Though the fighter's management asserts that Marquardt is eagerly anticipating a return to action, the next specific step in the middleweight's fighting career is currently unknown. Since his release from the UFC, fans and pundits have speculated on a possible move to Bellator Fighting Championships; the promotion’s middleweight titleholder, Hector Lombard, has been vocal in his desire to fight the Grudge Training Center representative, as has welterweight champ Ben Askren. Marquardt is 2-2 in his last four starts, notching victories over Dan Miller and Rousimar Palhares, while falling to Yushin Okami and Chael Sonnen.