Once seen as a legitimate "number two" mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, Strikeforce had become something of a half-way house for deposed fighters no longer making hay while the sun shined upon the UFC's Octagon.
Fabricio Werdum, Dan Henderson and Nick Diaz were prime examples.
When Scott Coker and his band of merry men surrendered to the ZUFFA machine in early 2011, it gave former middleweight Nate Marquardt a chance to atone for his sins. Expected to make his 170-pound debut at UFC on VERSUS 4, "The Great" botched his testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) and found himself unemployed.
UFC President Dana White granted clemency after a year on the sidelines and Marquardt was back in action, taking the Strikeforce welterweight title by crushing Tyron Woodley at the "Rockhold vs. Kennedy" event by way of fourth-round Shoryuken.
There was instant talk of a future title unification bout against his UFC counterpart, Georges St. Pierre.
Unfortunately, no one bothered to check with Tarec Saffiedine, a Shihaishinkai black belt who flew under the radar despite a 5-1 record under the Strikeforce banner. That's because "The Sponge" had just one finish inside the Hexagon and was unable to deal with Woodley's wrestling-based offense when they met at "Challengers 13."
And he was only a white belt in the ancient art of Trash Talk Do.
Saffiedine was also the beneficiary of the promotion's mass exodus. When it was announced that Strikeforce would hold its final event at the Chesapeake Energy Center in Oklahoma City, Okla., on Jan. 13, 2013, several of the fighters booked to throw down were mysteriously injured or just flat-out defected to UFC.
That gave him prime real estate in a championship title fight in the "Marquardt vs. Saffiedine" main event.
Not that anyone predicted he would win. Saffiedine opened as a sizable underdog at +328, as the MMA community expected Marquardt -- already a giant at 185 pounds -- to be too big and strong for the decision-prone "Sponge" to sop up any points on the judges' scorecards.
Whether or not Marquardt choked -- an accusation that haunted him since his discomfiture in Germany -- is uncertain. What we do know, is that Saffiedine brought his A-game to "The Sooner State," as well as an accomplished career in professional kickboxing.
By the time the final bell had sounded, Marquardt's leg reflected 25 minutes of damage, engorged and purple from the constant THWACK of incoming leg kicks (pic). How he managed to leave the cage under his own volition, is one of the sport's great mysteries.
Nevertheless, the deed was done and Saffiedine graduated Strikeforce as the last man to ever hold the 170-pound title.
Regrettably, he's been unable to compete ever since, thanks to a recurring injury that forced him onto the sidelines for the better part of a year (more on that here). The good news is, he'll return the same way he left, headlining a major MMA event.
And he's a long way from home.
Saffiedine has been tasked with turning away Korean wunderkind Hyun Gyu Lim, who put the welterweight division on notice with back-to-back knockout victories over Pascal Krauss at UFC 164 and then Marcelo Guimaraes at UFC on FUEL TV 8.
The winner will no doubt be "in the mix."
The action gets underway in less than a week at UFC Fight Night 34, which takes place at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore and airs live on the UFC's new "Fight Pass" digital network at 9 a.m. ET, due to the discrepancy in time zones.
For more on how this fight came together click here.