Two vastly different welterweight striking styles will clash this Saturday night (August 18, 2012) as Team Quest's Tarec Saffiedine takes on Vision MMA's Roger Bowling on the main card of Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman in San Diego, California.
Saffiedine has been on a roll as of late, dominating both Scott Smith and Tyler Stinson with his superior striking technique to get himself back in the mix of top welterweight Strikeforce contenders. "The Sponge" is hoping to potentially earn a crack at Nate Marquardt if he can get past the heavy-handed Bowling.
Roger Bowling is one of the most ferocious and powerful strikers in the welterweight division. He has a reputation for being a strong starter and he's proven it time and time again with a plethora of very quick knockouts on his resume. He'll be looking to add a big name to his hit list on Saturday night.
Will Saffiedine potentially be able to earn a title shot? Can Bowling blitz "The Sponge" with his tremendous power? What's the key to victory for both men?
Let's find out:Tarec Saffiedine
Record: 12-3 overall, 4-1 in Strikeforce
Key Losses: Tyron Woodley (Strikeforce Challengers 13)
How he got here: Tarec Saffiedine grew up in Belgium with a strong background in the striking arts. He had a 12-1 record as an amateur kickboxer but fell in love with Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu which led to his transition to mixed martial arts.
He came to the US to train with Dan Henderson's Team Quest where he quickly earned the nickname "Sponge" for his incredible ability to absorb new information and utilize it. His only loss for four years was a close split decision to Yoon Dong-Sik when he stepped up in weight on very short notice in DREAM.
After getting off to a hot start in the Strikeforce Challengers series, he was slated to face fellow top welterweight prospect Tyron Woodley one year ago. In that fight, Woodley repeatedly took Saffiedine down, frustrating him with top control while avoiding all of his sweeps and submission attempts on the ground to take a unanimous decision.
He followed up his loss by turning Cinderella man Scott Smith into a human punching bag this past summer and he put on a good show against Tyler Stinson earlier this year to gain another high profile bout against Bowling.
How he gets it done: Saffiedine has a plethora of weapons which make him very dangerous. He's a patient fighter so he'll likely open cautiously, wary of the the Bowling's power but as he begins to see openings in Bowling's defense, he'll start to pick up the pace.
Saffiedine is very dangerous from any position. He's got nasty leg, body and head kicks as well as power in both hands. His biggest concern will likely be Bowling's power, but he's got terrific striking defenses so he's likely not going to be afraid to take risks in his stand-up because he covers his tracks well.
It's not very likely that this fight goes to the ground as both men are much more menacing on the feet and both are confident in their skills. Time is on Saffiedine's side as Bowling is such a strong starter, but has faded in both of his career losses to Voelker.
If Saffiedine can weather the early storm, he's got a very good shot here.
Record: 11-2 overall, 4-2 in Strikeforce
Key Losses: Bobby Voelker 2x (Strikeforce Challengers 17, Strikeforce Challengers 11)
How he got here: Roger Bowling's mixed martial arts career got off to a blistering start. Competing in the MidWest, primarily for the MMA Big Show promotion, he cruised through his first seven fights, scoring six first round stoppages including two very impressive victories over eventual UFC competitors Shamar Bailey and Seth Baczynski in 28 and nine seconds respectively.
"Relentless" was on the fast track to superstardom, but then he hit a hurdle named Bobby Voelker. Bowling defeated Voelker in his Strikefroce debut, but Voelker had taken his best shot and was potentially on the way to a comeback before an inadvertent eye poke forced a technical decision on the side of Bowling.
They would meet for a rematch and again, after Bowling destroyed Voelker early, he would fade and this time, Voelker capitalized, scoring a late second round TKO to hand him his first loss. After a dominant showing against Josh Thornburg, Bowling earned a trilogy against Voelker and history would repeat itself, this time Voelker scoring an early second round stoppage.
How he gets it done: Bowling is all about the early blitz. He's got one of the best bursts of any fighter in the welterweight division and he can't go away from that. The key for him is to get his offense in efficiently. If he lands something significant and starts swarming Saffiedine, he can't just throw with reckless abandon. He's got to make sure his shots are damaging and not getting blocked.
If he throws everything at Saffiedine and can't finish him, he's going to have a rough night.
Bowling has a ton of power, so it could only take one shot.
Fight X-Factor: The biggest X-Factor for this fight has to be time. Bowling has only ever won three fights in his career that have gone to the second round. He's so dangerous in the opening minutes, but once that adrenaline dump hits him, he can fade quickly.
If Saffiedine can weather that early storm and Bowling hasn't made the necessary adjustments, "The Sponge" is going to take over.
Bottom Line: This fight is going to be awesome. Both Saffiedine and Bowling love to stand and trade and both have distinctly different striking styles. One is very technical (Saffiedine) while the other is all about power and the knockout (Bowling). When you have a fight like this, someone could be dominating but all it takes is one blow. The first round of this fight is going to be incredible. That's all I know. After that? Who knows, but you do not want to miss the first round. Don't even think about it.
Who will come out on top at Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!