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It was a back-and-forth battle, and Nate Marquardt (35-19-2 MMA, 13-12 UFC) ended in fine fashion, but Cezar Ferreira (12-6 MMA, 8-4 UFC) ultimately took home a split-decision win.

The middleweight bout was part of the main card of today’s UFC Fight Night 120 event at Ted Constant Convocation Center on the Old Dominion University campus in Norfolk, Va. It aired on FS1 following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Marquardt took the center of the cage to start the fight, and the taller Ferreira stayed at range, patient to open. Marquardt was the first to really attack, launching a few powerful punches that were blocked, thought it was a Ferreira left that seemed to be the first direct hit.

As the action played out, Ferreira was content to let Marquardt come to him and then unleash big left hands in return. Marquardt’s right eye was busted up early, and he began to take a more measured approach to his attacks. The pace slowed a bit, leading to a restless crowd, but both man was trying to remain disciplined in their approach. Marquardt landed a crisp right late, perhaps his best shot of the round.

The two were again patient to start the second. Ferreira continued to chop the legs a bit, and Marquardt was able to eventually get inside and wrap the body. However, he couldn’t capitalize on the position, and they returned to the center. Following a Marquardt right hand, Ferreira actually looked to bring the fight to the floor but fell short after a brief scramble. Ferreira seemed to be the aggressor late, though both men really were set on waiting to counter. Marquardt again did his best work late, landing a few big right hands and actually knocking Ferreira down just before the bell, creating a wild flurry to close the frame.

With the bout seemingly hanging in the balance in the third, both men came out quick. Ferreira landed a right that stunned his foe and then quickly followed with a big takedown, falling into his opponent’s guard. Marquardt wisely worked to a knee and then his feet, but Ferreira maintained control of the body as they scrambled. Marquardt tried to grab the neck as they stood, but Ferreira lifted his opponent high in the air and slammed him to the floor, popping his head free and moving to side control. Marquardt tried to scramble for the remainder of the round, but Ferreira stayed heavy on top until the end, when he moved to bottom position to try and finish a guillotine. Marquardt capitalized with his only offensive moment of the round, slicing open Ferreira with a nasty elbow right at the bell.

It was too little, too late, though, and Ferreira took home a split-decision win, 28-29, 29-28 and 29-28. Afterward, “Mutante” called for a future fight with fast-rising middleweight contender Paulo Costa.

Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 120 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 120, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s Matt Erickson contributed to this report on site in Norfolk.)

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