UFN 34: Tarec Saffiedine’s Disappointed He’s Not Facing Jake Ellenberger, But Training “Super Hard” For “Dangerous” Hyun Gyu Lim
By Kelsey Mowatt
Since arriving in the UFC earlier this year, Tarec Saffiedine has been booked to fight two of the promotion’s top 170’ers, due to the fact he was the last man to hold Strikeforce’s welterweight belt. Due to injuries, however, Saffiedine was forced to drop out of a July bout with Robbie Lawler. Then, the UFC tapped Saffiedine to fight top five ranked welterweight Jake Ellenberger on January 4th, but this time around it was the latter who had to withdraw.
Now, Saffiedine will take on Hyun Gyu Lim at UFC Fight Night 34, who is clearly on the rise, but not a top ten ranked contender. As a result, the stake’s surrounding the Belgian fighter’s Octagon debut have changed somewhat.
“I was disappointed not to fight Jake. I was really, really looking forward to facing someone like Jake,” Saffiedine said on a recent episode of Full Contact Fighter Radio. “He’s a tough opponent, and like you said, he’s a top ten. So I was a little bit disappointed but at the same time, I’m training super hard to face Lim. I’m really not underestimating Lim. He’s a tough and dangerous fighter.”
While Lim may not be as familiar a name to North American fans as Ellenberger, the South Korean fighter has been on an impressive role. Not only has the 28 year-old won seven straight bouts, but since arriving in the UFC, “The Ace” has KO’d Marcelo Guimaraes and Pascal Krauss.
“The major change I would say is that he’s a tall fighter,” the 27 year-old Saffiedine noted. “So he has long reach, and he’s aggressive with his punches, pretty explosive, and he has a different style than Jake, obviously.”
“For me, what’s really important is that I have to focus on myself, my skills and my abilities,” the Shihaishinkai Karate black belt furthered. “I need to believe in my skills and just go out there and perform my fight. Not too worry too much about what he does and focus more on myself.”
And does Saffiedine believe wrestling is less of a factor now? Due to the withdrawal of Ellenberger, who is a highly regarded wrestler?
“I don’t think he’s going to try to take me down, probably; I’m not sure what he’s going to bring,” the Team Quest fighter said. “He likes to keep it on his feet, with the stand-up; I think that’s what he’s dangerous for and what he likes to do. Me too.”
“I think that’s why it’s going to be an exciting fight, I believe,” added Saffiedine, who defeated Nate Marquardt by unanimous decision in January to take the Strikeforce title. “For me, when I go into camp, when I face somebody, whether it’s Jake or it’s Lim, I’m training in each and every area. I have to be prepared for anywhere the fight can go, and so I’m training in wrestling, jiu-jitsu, I’m not focusing more on the stand-up area because he’s more of a stand-up fighter, I’m training in each and every area as much as I can. I’m able to mix things up if I need to.”
UFC FN 34 will be hosted by the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore on January 4th, and will also feature Tatsuya Kawajiri taking on Sean Soriano.