Tarec Saffiedine To “Keep Pushing” For Title Shot; Believes Tyron Woodley “Was Less Impressive Than Me In His Last Couple of Fights” Prior to Facing Nate Marquardt
By Kelsey Mowatt
Tarec Saffiedine headed to San Diego this past weekend hoping to entrench a title fight with Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nate Marquardt, and after his win Saturday night, it remains to be seen if he’ll receive it. Saffiedine worked his way to a unanimous decision victory over the powerful Roger Bowling at the event, to position himself, he believes, as the promotion’s number one contender.
“Obviously I believe I’m right up there for the title,” Saffiedine (13-3) told Full Contact Fighter. “I don’t think there’s anyone else than me who deserves a title shot. We’ll wait; I’m going to keep asking for it, but it’s not up to me. I’ll keep pushing for it.”
Although Saffiedine has won three straight fights and holds a record of 5-1 under the Strikeforce banner, the promotion’s CEO Scott Coker, wouldn’t confirm whether the Team Quest fighter will fight for the belt next.
“The position I’m in now, I would have loved to hear a direct answer, yes or no, but he didn’t say yes, and he didn’t say no,” said the 25 year-old Belgium fighter. “I’m going to keep asking for it and we’ll see in a few days hopefully.”
While Saffiedine has earned praise for his technical striking and evolving grappling abilities recently, the fighter hasn’t recorded a stoppage win since May, 2010, when he KO’d Nate Moore. At a time when fans and UFC President Dana White have been emphasizing the importance of finishes, are Saffiedine’s title shot aspirations hindered by the fact he didn’t record a stoppage?
“Maybe it is, maybe it is not,” said Saffiedine who has won three straight bouts now since he lost by unanimous decision to Tyron Woodley in January, 2011. “Tyron was less impressive than me in his last couple of fights before he got the title shot. I believe I’ve produce good stand-up fights. Even though I didn’t get the finish I almost got it at the end of the fight.”
As many people likely expected, Saturday’s fight featured several memorable striking exchanges, and although the bout was very competitive, every judge awarded Saffiedine all three rounds.
“I haven’t had the time to watch the fight, because I’m in the process of moving out, but I’m pretty happy with my performance,” said Saffiedine. “I would have loved to pull the trigger a little earlier and finish the fight as well, but I’m happy with the win. Roger is really tough and he hits pretty hard. I was expecting him to come out a little stronger at the beginning but he didn’t.”
“I was confident that I had won the fight because in the clinch, I was controlling the clinch most of the time, and he wasn’t really able to take me down,” Saffiedine added. “I knew I had the second round and definitely the third round, but the first one was close…I’m not surprised by the decision.”
Marquardt laid claim to Strikeforce’s vacant title in July, by knocking out Woodley in impressive fashion in the fourth round. Regardless of who Strikeforce ultimately decides will face Marquardt next, Saffiedine believes he has what it takes to deliver an entertaining title fight.
“Nate is a good striker and has his own style of striking,” Saffiedine said. “From what I’ve seen he matches up pretty well with me, because I like to switch up my stance, move in and out, move around and he stands more in the middle and exchange. We would put on a great fight with the stand-up but also on the ground; it would be a great fight for the fans.”