Esther Lin, Showtime
In a fitting narrative to the end of Strikeforce, a fighter who worked his way up from the ranks of the Challenger shows managed to become the welterweight champion in the final event in the organization's existence. in the main event of Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine, underdog Tarec Saffiedine battered Nate Marquardt over five rounds to become the new and final Strikeforce welterweight champion. The judges all scored it in favor of Saffiedine 48-47, 49-46, 49-46.
While Saffiedine never truly had Marquardt in major trouble, he controlled the tempo and distance throughout the fight.
The first round was mostly a feeling out period, but even early Saffiedine was able to land effective counter strikes, mixing up punches and kicks in combination strikes. When he opted to single shot, he countered Marquardt, even dropping the former UFC middleweight for a moment with a right cross.
By the second and third rounds, Marquardt sought out the takedown, hoping for a different complexion to the fight. Saffiedine used superb single leg takedown defense to thwart Marquardt's attempts. The middle frames is when the Team Quest product began to pour on the leg kicks, a tactic which would pay immediate dividends as well as define the championship rounds.
By the fourth and fifth rounds, Saffiedine went more aggressive and battered the visibly limp and purplish lead leg of Marquardt. The former UFC middleweight attempted to throw punches and even catch Saffiedine's kicks, but to no avail.
After being announced the winner, Saffiedine could barely absorb the moment. "You know, I've been training so hard for so long. My kicks are one of my best weapons and I trained that a lot in training, so that was kind of the gameplan."
While no official announcement has been made, the win all but assures Saffiedine future's in the UFC.
"It's unbeliable," Saffiedine said of the moment. "I can't iamgine I'm wearing the belt right now. It's unreal."
Saffiedine finishes his Strikeforce run with a record of 6-1. He moves to 14-3 overall in his MMA career.
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