This Saturday night, Tarec "Sponge" Saffiedine and "Relentless" Roger Bowling do battle on the main card of Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman live from the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, Calif., which will also host the weigh-ins on Friday night.
Bowling and Saffiedine will ride on the strength of their own respective two-fight win streaks, with Saffiedine recently defeating Tyler Stinson while Bowling recently disposed of Brandon Saling.
The stakes for both men in this welterweight bout may prove the most significant portion of the discussion surrounding it—perhaps even more so than the breakdown of the events that led to this epic encounter.
Bowling declared hopes of a title shot in the weeks leading up to this fight while Saffiedine opted to keep on the hush before his battle with the Cincinnati native, but as an ironic twist for both men, the winner of this bout will likely find himself somewhere near contention for the title in an admittedly dry-looking welterweight division if their performance impresses enough for them to earn themselves a shot at current world champion Nate "The Great" Marquardt.
However, allow for a momentary proposal, if you would.
It's true that Bowling or Saffiedine may find themselves closer to Marquardt's gold with a victory, but in the minds of many, one man already made his case towards a title shot, and that man is "The Kansas City Bandit" Jason High.
High scored an impressive 26-second submission win over Nate Moore last month at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy, and High made it known that he wanted a main card slot, and eventually, a title shot.
Of course, the winner of Bowling vs. Saffiedine will unquestionably look to define his case toward his shot at Marquardt's belt as a case stronger than High's argument towards the belt, but they will not have proven the other so-called "contenders" as no more than pretenders.
In other words, until the winner fights High, their claim as the undisputed No. 1 challenger will indeed face dispute. Aside from High or a bout against Woodley—a potential rematch for Saffiedine if he beats Bowling—few other options currently make sense when it comes to determining the No. 1 contender to the welterweight throne.
Regardless of how the win comes, expect High to have something to say about the end of the fight, and anticipate High facing off against the winner of this intriguing welterweight affair in a title eliminator sometime in the near future.
With the division looking fairly dry without Marquardt ever making a defense, any drops of fresh blood in the welterweight talent pool will bring a welcome change to a seemingly dry landscape at 170. Whether Bowling or Saffiedine moves one step closer to ushering in that change depends incredibly on what transpires this Saturday night in San Diego.