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Marquardt not heading to Bellator as he fights off criticism from B.J. Penn

Apparently the "Nate Marquardt's a nice guy" stuff is long gone. The former UFC middleweight contender, who had run ins with both Pennsylvania and New Jersey over his testosterone replacement therapy use, is getting battered from all sides. Bellator's Hector Lombard called him a cheater earlier this week and now B.J. Penn has jumped on board the "Slam Nate Express."

@BJPenndontcom and @NathanMarquardt engaged in a little Twitter throw down yesterday.

Marquardt not heading to Bellator as he fights off criticism from B.J. Penn

MMA fans on Twitter are choosing sides. A newly combative Marquardt is getting blasted by some followers and spoke with MMAjunkie to defend himself.

"Some of the fighters that think they're so cool and tough by kicking a guy when he's down — as far as my career, this has been one of the worst times of my life, and these guys are calling me a cheater and talking crap — I've taken note as to who those guys are, and I'm going to come for them. Eventually, I'll get them. I don't care if it's in a superfight or if they want to come down to my gym. I'll beat them up for free," Marquardt said.

"I think you know who these guys are — Ben Askren, B.J. Penn, Paul Daley, Hector Lombard, cowards talking crap about a guy when he's in such a situation. They're trying to take advantage of the situation. They're bullies. Those are the guys I want to beat up."

Not everyone is slamming Marquardt. Others on Twitter have started a #bringnateback hash tag. They're including UFC president Dana White on many of those tweets.

Marquardt and his management team must be banking on White eventually softening his stance. Bellator made an offer to Marquardt, but the two sides couldn't come to terms. It sounds like Marquardt wanted an immediate title shot against Lombard, but Bellator wouldn't back off it's standard tournament format. All new fighters are usually put into a tournament and have to earn a title shot against the reigning champ.

"The reality is that it's not often that a top-10 guy is available... especially when he's coming off a win. Nate's situation was pretty unique. It's an anomaly for a guy like that to become available, so we had discussions. But it just became pretty clear it wasn't the right fit," Rebney told MMAjunkie.

Who's making the mistake in that case? Wouldn't it benefit Bellator to steal away a high profile fighter? Or is it Marquardt, for not taking the only major opportunity that may come his way?

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