James Te Huna-Nate Marquardt headlines UFC’s New Zealand debut

Nate Marquardt (left) meets Kiwi James Te Huna on June 28 in the main event of the UFC's first foray into New Zealand.

The UFC is going to the land of the Kiwis.

James Te Huna and Nate Marquardt will headline the organization’s first show in New Zealand, UFC Fight Night Auckland, on June 28, according to the New Zealand Herald. Te Huna, a native of the island, will be making his middleweight debut after dropping down from light heavyweight and Marquardt will be moving back up to middleweight from welterweight.

The UFC will also hold an event in San Antonio the same day. That card will air on FOX Sports 1, while the New Zealand show is likely to be on UFC Fight Pass.

Mark Hunt, New Zealand’s most popular MMA fighter, was unavailable for the card, because he’s still trying to come back from a broken hand he received back in December against Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva in Australia. Another pair of Kiwis, Dylan Andrews and Robert Whittaker, could also be competing at the event, the newspaper reported.

Te Huna (16-7) is coming off two straight losses, the most recent a first-round knockout defeat at the hands of Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in Australia back in December. Before that, he was choked out in the first round by Glover Teixeira last May. This will be the 32-year-old’s first try at cutting to 185 pounds.

"I’m serious about my diet," Te Huna said. "I’m serious about losing this weight and performing how I should be when the time comes. This is a huge deal for me. When I was a kid I always dreamed about representing my country on the world stage and I never thought it would be fighting, competing in the UFC, doing what I do. It’s pretty much a dream come true."

Marquardt (32-13-2) has been defeated in three straight bouts and could be facing a pink slip with a loss. The former Strikeforce welterweight champion was knocked out in the first round by both Hector Lombard and Jake Ellenberger most recently since returning to the UFC. The 34-year-old was at one time one of the best middleweights in the world. He lost to Anderson Silva in a title fight back in 2007.

"He’s a dangerous guy," Te Huna said. "He likes to stand and bang so it’s going to be a great fight."