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UFC Fight Night 88 fight card: Rick Story vs Tarec Saffiedine full fight preview

Rick Story and Tarec Saffiedine will square off this Sunday (May 29, 2016) at UFC 198 inside Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. In a match up of Top 15-ranked Welterweight contenders, what adjustments must be made for either man to claim victory? Find out below!

rick story

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight combatants Rick Story and Tarec Saffiedine will duel this Sunday (May 29, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 88 inside Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

It's been well over a year since Story last competed, but he's still coming off one of the biggest wins of his career. In his return bout, Story was hoping to remind the mixed martial arts (MMA) world that he's still a legitimate player in the 170-pound division. Saffiedine has struggled with injuries as well, including nearly having to pull out this very week (read full details here)! Luckily, he's been cleared and will look to battle for his second win in 2016.

Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both men:

Rick Story
Record: 18-8
Key Wins: Johny Hendricks (The Ultimate Fighter Finale 12), Gunnar Nelson (UFC Fight Night 53), Thiago Alves (UFC 130)
Key Losses: Demian Maia (UFC 153), Kelvin Gastelum (UFC 171)
Keys to Victory: Story is a very smart fighter with a strong wrestling background and effective pressure boxing attack. Working out of the Southpaw stance, Story does a very nice job breaking his opponents with his body shots and clinch work.

That's a pretty solid strategy opposite the distance kickboxer.

In this bout -- as in most for "The Horror" -- closing range will be important for the MMA Lab-trained fighter. He does his best work in inside exchanges, whereas his foe will look to jab and low kick him from far away.

Luckily, this is where Story's wrestling can be quite useful. While Saffiedine's takedown defense is excellent, Story doesn't need to finish any of his shots (though it's a bonus if he does). Instead, Story can use his wrestling to force the fight into the clinch. At that range, Story's body punches will do wonders in slowing Saffiedine down and making it easier to close the distance. Furthermore, Saffiedine was clipped on the exit of the clinch multiple times by Jake Ellenberger, so Story should look to capitalize there as well.


Tarec Saffiedine
Record: 15-4
Key Wins: Jake Ellenberger (UFC on FOX 18), Nate Marquardt (Strikeforce: Marquardt vs Saffiedine), Hyun Gyu Lim (UFC Fight Night 34)
Key Losses: Rory MacDonald (UFC Fight Night 54), Tyrone Woodley (Strikeforce Challengers: Woodley vs Saffiedine)
Keys to Victory: Saffiedine is one of the finest technical kickboxers in the division. He strikes well out of both stances and maintains range vigorously, punishing his opponents with long strikes.

Since he's a very difficult man to take down, that makes him a difficult task for much of the division.

On the whole, Saffiedine should look to employ his usual strategy here. Staying away from Story is the smart and obvious strategy, as Saffiedine doesn't want to wrestle or clinch with him. Since both men have fairly obvious game plans here, the winner will be whichever man can dictate range. For Saffiedine, that means he has to earn Story's respect early with some hard jabs and crosses, ensuring that Story won't push forward without at least thinking about it.

In addition, Saffiedine needs to stay defensively aware the entire bout. Story is a crafty fighter who will surely create some opportunities to score, and Saffiedine cannot have his hands low when that happens.

Bottom Line: Both men are Top 10-ranked fighters looking to build a win streak and enter the immediate title mix.

Story's victory over Nelson -- who was undefeated at the time -- really should have propelled him into a very high-profile match up, but injuries ruined that chance. Luckily, Story has an opportunity here to add another significant victory to his resume and inch closer to the title.

Alternatively, a long layoff followed by a loss is a bad combination. Welterweight is a very talent-rich division, so any loss is a considerable setback.

Saffiedine's position in the division is a bit uncertain at the moment. He simply hasn't been fighting consistently throughout his whole UFC career, and that doesn't exactly help his argument as a Top-ranked 10 fighter. While personally I think he has those skills, he still needs to make it to the cage and show them off consistently.

With a win, Saffiedine is ready for another fight with someone in the upper half of the rankings. However, a loss will drop him down quite a bit, and it will put more pressure on him to return to the cage quickly.

At UFC Fight Night 88, Rick Story and Tarec Saffiedine will collide. Which fighter will earn the victory?

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