Report: Nate Marquardt signs contract

Updated: February 22, 2012, 12:33 PM ET
By Franklin McNeil | ESPN.com

Former UFC middleweight contender Nate Marquardt has signed a contract with Strikeforce, Fuel TV reported Tuesday night.

The signing of Marquardt comes less than a year after he was cut by UFC. Marquardt was released when a pre-fight drug test by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission in June revealed that his testosterone levels exceeded allowable limits.

The failed drug test was the second for Marquardt since he joined UFC in 2005. He tested positive for an anabolic steroid after he defeated Ivan Salaverry by unanimous decision in his UFC debut on Aug. 6, 2005.

Following the second failed test, Marquardt was pulled from his scheduled UFC welterweight bout in Pittsburgh against Rick Story.

Shortly thereafter, UFC president Dana White vowed that Marquardt would never fight in the promotion again. But he also declined to rule out Marquardt competing in Strikeforce, UFC's sister promotion.

Marquardt (31-10-2) is grateful that he has been given another chance to fight under the Zuffa banner.

"Dana White, (UFC co-owner) Lorenzo Fertitta thanks so much for the opportunity to prove myself," Marquardt said on Twitter. "I can't wait."

Details of the contract have not been revealed and no date has been set for Marquardt's return to the cage. But it has been speculated that he might face highly ranked Strikeforce welterweight contender Tyron Woodley (10-0) later this year.

Marquardt has not fought since March 19, when he defeated fellow middleweight Dan Miller by unanimous decision at UFC 128 in Newark, N.J.

Franklin McNeil covers mixed martial arts and boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Franklin_McNeil.