UFN 34: Despite Injury Setbacks, Tarec Saffiedine Hasn’t Been Sitting at Home, “Crying For Myself” in 2013
By Kelsey Mowatt
Although it may seem like ages ago now, it wasn’t that long ago when many throughout the MMA world were busy discussing how Strikeforce’s best fighters and champions would perform in the UFC. Well, as 2013 nears its end, fans have seen the promotion’s lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez battle Benson Henderson and Diego Sanchez, middleweight champ Luke Rockhold get taken out by Vitor Belfort, and women’s bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey become one of the UFC’s biggest names. Other Strikeforce vets like Robbie Lawler, “Jacare” Souza and Daniel Cormier have also gone on to established themselves as top contenders in their respective weight divisions.
One key figure, however, who did not make his Octagon debut as expected, was Strikeforce welterweight champ Tarec Saffiedine. The renowned striker was set to fight Lawler at UFC on FOX 8 in July, but injuries forced Saffiedine to withdraw. While the year hasn’t gone the way the Belgian fighter envisioned, he remains focused on scoring a win over Hyun Gyu Lim at UFC Fight Night 34, and working his way up the UFC welterweight ranks.
“As far as the injuries, it was a downside this year,” Saffiedine noted on Full Contact Fighter Radio recently. “Obviously, I wasn’t out the entire year like some people believe. I was training at the beginning of the year, the first half of the year, and I was out for a couple of months. Even though I was out, I was still training as much as I could.”
“I wasn’t sitting at home blaming myself, crying for myself,” added Saffiedine, who hasn’t fought since January 12th, 2013, when he defeated Nate Marquardt by unanimous decision to become the last Strikeforce welterweight champ. “I wasn’t eating pizza and ice cream all day. I tried to stay in shape as much I can. I have goals and I want to reach those goals. Until then, I’m not going to take a step back and cry for myself. I’m going to stay focused and try to go forward, keep a positive mind, and to go as far as I can.”
Despite the fact Saffiedine hasn’t fought yet in the UFC, and casual fans may not be overly familiar with the 14-3 fighter, the promotion still tapped him for the main event slot at UFN 34. Initially, Saffiedine was booked to fight the UFC’s #5th ranked welterweight Jake Ellenberger, but after the latter got injured, the rising Lim was moved to the headliner. Lim has scored knockout wins over Marcelo Guimaraes and Pascal Krauss since arriving in the UFC, and has won seven straight bouts.
“It’s an honor to get that call, and to get the opportunity to fight in the main event,” said Saffiedine, who went 6-1 during his time with Strikeforce. “It’s a huge opportunity, especially for me, because I’m going to be the first Belgian fighter ever in the UFC. So it’s huge on both sides, being in the main event, being in the UFC, and being the first Belgian fighter to represent my country. So I’m really super excited.”
UFC FN 34 will be hosted by the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and will be available for viewing in North America, via the promotion’s new online “Fight Pass” subscription service.