Like many former collegiate wrestlers, Dan Marquette looks to make a name for himself in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
However, he doesn’t look to be inside the UFC Octagon® but to make sure those competing inside it are at their peak due to proper nutrition.
Marquette, who will graduate in May from South Dakota State University with a master’s degree in nutrition and exercise science, has been selected to the 2021-22 Gatorade Sports Nutrition Immersion Program. He will complete his fellowship at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas, a state-of-the-art research and performance center for mixed martial arts athletes.
The Gatorade SNIP program annually selects 10 individuals entering the field of sports nutrition and pairs them with a full-time sports dietitian at various locations across the country. Working in cooperation with Gatorade, the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association selects SNIP fellows through an in-depth application and interview process.
A Hastings, Minnesota, native, Marquette came to SDSU after graduating from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, and competing as a wrestler for the Cobbers.
His wrestling background and appreciation for sports science are what sparked his interest in the UFC Performance Institute.
“There’s a massive need for sports nutrition professionals in weight-class sports. I noticed in high school, and college too, that you think you know what you're doing but, once you actually learn about it, you realize you had no idea” he said, admitting that was how it was for him as a student-athlete. “When you're doing it on your own, there’s no science behind it, and that can significantly impact your performance.
“Making weight safely and effectively is very scientific. You have to know how your training and diet impact your body from a nutrition and exercise physiology standpoint.”
Marquette will start with the UFC Performance Institute’s Sports Nutrition team in late June. He will be doing nutrition assessments, nutrition education and counseling, nutrition-related exercise physiology assessments and will help ensure the athletes have safe and effective weight cuts.
“Working with athletes in a weight-class sport, it’s a very unique population,” said Marquette, who aspires to work in a setting such as the UFC performance institute after his fellowship.
Matt Vukovich, professor and the College of Education and Human Sciences’ associate dean for research, is interested to see and learn about Marquette’s experience with the UFC.
“There are a lot of myths and poor-health practices associated with weight-class based sports. The UFC has developed a science-based program to assist their athletes. Dan will be able to use scientific principles to help these athletes reach optimal performance. We are excited for Dan and the fellowship he worked hard to earn,” said Vukovich.
Marquette prefers the individualized approach he will be able to deliver once at the UFC Performance Institute.
“I'm very excited for the individualized environment I’ll be working in because there's greater opportunity to tailor everything specifically to that individual,” Marquette said. “One thing that’s so great about the UFC PI is the opportunity to work with the world-class staff in not only nutrition, but also strength and conditioning, sports science and sports medicine. They have an excellent rapport with the entire UFC roster. I hope my background in wrestling will help bring me up to that level, so I create a personal bond with everyone I work with. I think having previous experience in a combat sport is essential for working with this population because it gives you some appreciation for what they go through just to compete.
“I think fighters really appreciate the attention and help they get from everyone at the UFC Performance Institute,” he continued. “Any athlete that has been on a weight management and nutrition plan appreciates the knowledge an actual professional brings to the table because they can see the direct benefit in their health and performance.”