Arvada's Nate Marquardt undergoes newer-type ankle surgery ahead of UFC Denver fight
Coming off a win over Tamdan McCrory on Oct. 1, Nate Marquardt had some pain in his ankle.
He ignored it and went back to training. Then one day, just walking around, excruciating pain shot through Marquardt's foot. He couldn't put any pressure on it. It took about five minutes before the pain subsided.
Having already undergone "a bad surgery" on the ankle in 2013, Marquardt found another doctor.
This one offered a different option: cleaning out some bone spurs and a subchondroplasty procedure.
Marquardt, the UFC middleweight from Arvada who will fight Sam Alvey on Saturday at Pepsi Center at UFC on Fox, had never heard of that procedure. Not many people outside the medical field have, especially when it comes to ankle surgeries.
His new doctor at Cornerstone Orthopedics, Jonathan Backus, and Backus' senior partner Daniel Ocel, told Marquardt the procedure would have him back on his feet sooner than later.
Ocel learned the procedure from Dr. Robert Anderson, a foot and ankle specialist who works with the NFL's Carolina Panthers.
In the procedure, doctors insert a trocar - a hollow tube - into the location of the bone that has the lesion, Backus explained. Then they inject a highly porous calcium phosphate through the tube into the bone.
The calcium phosphate hardens within minutes, then continues to mature over a day.
But, Backus said, neither he nor Ocel had performed the surgery.
Within three days, Marquardt was walking without a boot. On the fourth day, the UFC called, offering him the fight with Alvey. In Denver, no less.
Needless to say, he took it.
"It was really exciting," Marquardt said. "I had heard they were coming to Denver. I had wanted to ask for the fight, but I was thinking, well, with the surgery, if I end up having to pull out because I'm not ready in time, that's not going to be a good thing because I have to pull out. That's not professional.
"But when they offered it, I was already healing very fast. I just accepted."
Backus said Marquardt helped the recovery process because of a willingness to listen to doctors' orders.
"I don't know if it was his drive or motivation, or the procedure," Backus said. "It'll be exciting to see in the future if this is really as remarkable as we hope it is."
Over the past several weeks, Marquardt's coach Trevor Wittman has liked what he's seen.
"When he got back into the gym, instantly you could see a difference," Wittman said. "He was able to put more weight on the rear leg. And his spring was back, he was up on the ball of his foot, he wasn't standing flat on the rear foot."
His eagerness to work with his doctor left an impression.
"I really want to say I enjoyed taking care of Nate," said Backus, who plans to turn the TV on Saturday and watch his first UFC fight when Marquardt steps into the cage. "It was fun working with him. .
"It's so cool to see a guy who's really nice, really humble, and then he's just a savage in the ring."