Tarec Saffiedine explains why he turned down Carlos Condit, says Dan Henderson fought hurt at UFC 157

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Dan Henderson isn't accustomed to fighting under a shower of boos, but that's exactly what happened when he dropped a tepid split decision to former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida at UFC 157.

The disappointing co-main event earned the scorn of fans inside Anaheim's Honda Center, along with that of UFC President Dana White, and afterward Henderson even took to Twitter to apologize for what he termed a "boring" performance. Although according to Henderson's Team Quest teammate, Strikeforce welterweight champion Tarec Saffiedine, the stakes may have been tilted in Machida's favor from the outset.

"Dan is always 100-percent in his mind. But his body, you know, his body wasn't -- I don't know if I can say it -- but it wasn't 100-percent healthy," Saffiedine revealed on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour." But Dan, whatever is going on with his body, is always 100-percent going into a fight mentally."

Saffiedine refused to go into further detail regarding Henderson's condition, however the Belgian has had his own problems to worry about as of late.

By now it's apparent that any UFC fighters with the audacity to turn down a fight should expect to hear their decision aired publicly, and Saffiedine is no exception. After Rory MacDonald dropped out of UFC 158's co-main event with a neck injury, promotion officials revealed that Saffiedine rejected a proposed bout against Carlos Condit, which would have taken place on three weeks notice.

"The main reason basically was I'm not 100-percent healthy," Saffiedine explained. "I have a couple injuries that have been nagging and I have to take care of them. I'm doing [that] right now. So I had to unfortunately turn down the fight. It was too short to heal my injuries and be ready for the fight. With a healthy and longer camp, I would love to take the fight."

Saffiedine is currently undergoing physical therapy to return to full strength, while Condit, the UFC's No. 2 ranked welterweight, ultimately found himself matched-up against Johny Hendricks. And although Saffiedine's injury is minor -- he prefers not to disclose any details -- the 26-year-old admits that even if he were 100-percent, he still would've been hesitant to accept the fight.

"On such short notice, I think I would have to say no," Saffiedine explained. "I don't know, man. It was a tough call because I wasn't in the best shape right now. It was a tough call to say yes, and at the same time it was a great opportunity. It was the opportunity I was looking for.

"I know he's a big name and he's a really tough opponent, but he's not somebody that I can take lightly. It was hard because I'm really looking forward to my first fight in the UFC."

Fairly or unfairly, accusations of cowardice are often flung in the direction of any fighter that dares turn down a fight. Saffiedine admits to receiving his fair share, though he says the pendulum swung the other way as well.

"I had a lot of support. A lot of people understood [why] I turned down the fight. Of course you have people that don't understand and don't agree, but you always have both sides, whatever decision you make. I think if I would have taken the fight, I would have people saying that I shouldn't have taken it, and other people would've been happy with the decision. That's something you have to deal with.

"For the people that disagree with it, I'll make sure that they enjoy my next fight."

Saffiedine has yet to speak to White or UFC matchmakers Joe Silva and Sean Shelby, but he expects to return in either April or May for his Octagon debut, hopefully against "anybody in the top-10" of the 170-pound division. Coincidentally, No. 5 ranked welterweight Demian Maia has already lobbed a public challenge his way.

Saffiedine calls the match-up exactly "what I'm looking for." Though in the meantime, he simply must wait, able to do nothing but experience the UFC vicariously through his former Strikeforce stablemates.

"We didn't fight as much as we wanted to before in Strikeforce," Saffiedine concluded. "I guess we are really hungry to show what we are capable of doing, and that we've really come to the UFC to fight and put on good shows.

"Watching that event [on Saturday] gave me goosebumps. So many people watching, so many people there screaming and booing at the same time; it was really exciting and I can't wait to be there and fight."

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