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UFC Fight Night 88 results recap: Rick Story vs Tarec Saffiedine fight review and analysis

Last night (Sun., May 29, 2016), Rick Story and Tarec Saffiedine squared off at UFC Fight Night 88 inside Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. In a solid return to form, Story earned a decision victory. Find out how below!

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Saffiedine vs Story Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight veterans Rick Story and Tarec Saffiedine collided last night (May 29, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 88 inside Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Story is one of the division's toughest competitors, but a long layoff made his position uncertain. In his return bout against "The Sponge," Story needed to prove that he's still a relevant player at 170 pounds. Injuries have also prevented Saffiedine from building much momentum, but he had earned a position inside the Top 10 as well. Last night, the distance kickboxer intended to keep his opponent away and begin his title run.

As expected, Story looked to pressure his opponent from the opening bell. He threw -- and landed -- a fair few low kicks and tried to time his opponent circling with long hooks and crosses. Saffiedine did a nice job evading the punches and looked to fire off hard kicks whenever his opponent was in range.

Though many of the exchanges were close, Story's pressure and clinch work gave him a slight edge. He did a nice job of move forward with punches and finishing in the clinch, where he managed to land some hard body punches.

It was a close round, but Story deserved to win it.

Both fighters landed some nice kicks to start the round -- and Saffiedine just missed a head kick for the third time -- but Story was more intent on closing the distance this time around. Though Saffiedine's takedown defense kept him upright, Story did a nice job of controlling his opponent against the fence and landing body punches.

For most of the round, Story was able to trap his opponent along the fence. Saffiedine managed to create space a couple times, but he simply couldn't stop his opponent from muscling him into the fence.

In all likelihood, Saffiedine needed a finish in the final frame.

The third round was really more of the same. Saffiedine would manage to land some nice strikes at range and while his foe closed the distance, but he simply couldn't deter his opponent's pressure.

Somehow, Story ate a pair of solid head kicks to no real effect.

Regardless of what shots he took, Story kept driving his opponent into the clinch and punishing his opponent with body punches and elbows. Even though both men were tired from the grueling nature of this match, Story simply did not stop attacking.

That combination of toughness and intelligence -- Story's best qualities -- won him the fight.

Once more, Story came in with a smart, pressure-based game plan and left victorious. Unlike the majority of top fighters, Story sticks to his strategy without fail, and it makes him a very tough man to beat.

In this bout, I particularly like how Story broke his opponent down. Story already pushes a pretty grueling pace, but he adds to that by destroying his opponent's legs and body.

That was especially important here. Saffiedine's kicks at range are nasty, but they're exhausting and are much less dangerous once his thigh is sore and it's difficult for him to breathe.

Following this win, Story is back in line for a top 10 opponent. In this case, I'd like to see him scrap with Neil Magny, a bout which was made but never materialized during his layoff.

Saffiedine tried to fight at range, but he simply ended up in the clinch far too often. Against other fighters, his Thai plum and knees may have deterred them and allowed Saffiedine to work his usual kickboxing.

However, Story simply kept coming, and Saffiedine didn't have an answer.

On the bright side, Saffiedine's takedown defense looked great. The man is nearly impossible to drag to the mat, so if he finds a way to keep his back off the fence, he has the potential to be an elite contender.

Last night, Rick Story returned to the Octagon with a big victory over Tarec Saffiedine. How high can the scrapper climb in the talent-rich Welterweight division?

For complete UFC Fight Night 88: "Garbrandt vs Almeida" results and play-by-play, click HERE!

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