Marquardt vs. Saffiedine: Which Strikeforce Fighter Has the Most to Gain?

Kyle SymesCorrespondent IIIJanuary 11, 2013

August 18, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA;   Tarec Saffiedine (white shorts) defeated Roger Bowling (not pictured) in their Strikeforce MMA Welterweight Bout at the Valley View Casino Center.  Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

With a main card full of mismatches, it's easy to say guys like Dion Staring or Nandor Guilmino are fighters with the most to gain. They're both huge underdogs and obviously a win would provide a career salvation for either man.

In the interest of looking beyond the obvious, I'm going to look at Tarec Saffiedine as the fighter with the most to gain.

The Team Quest fighter is one of the top prospects in the welterweight division and outside of Tyron Woodley, has been one of the true diamond in the rough finds for Strikeforce. The former kickboxer has lost only once in a Strikeforce cage with that being a unanimous decision loss to the former Division-I wrestling standout Woodley.

In 16 professional fights Saffiedine has yet to be finished and is one of the more durable fighters in MMA. He's also on a three-fight winning streak including wins over Roger Bowling and Scott Smith.

With Woodley loosing to Nate Marquardt in 2012, Saffiedine was bumped up to title contender due to the lack of depth. Saffiedine is a highly regarded prospect but most of the MMA world is picking Marquardt—and for good reason. The former UFC middleweight contender is one of the most experienced competitors in MMA and has looked great since dropping to 170 pounds.

A loss effectively cements Saffiedine's place as a prospect in the UFC's welterweight division, which could mean years of hard work to get into title contention. The welterweight division once cleaned out by Georges St-Pierre, has now become a hot bed of talent with new challengers emerging each show.

Moving up the rankings also means facing a number of talented wrestlers, the type of fighter that has proven to give Saffiedine trouble in the past.

If the Belgian can take out Marquardt, he will undoubtedly shoot up the ranks into title contention. With only 16 fights and very few wins over "quality competition," it could become the chance of a lifetime should Saffiedine get past Marquardt.

Although Saffiedine will still likely garner a roster spot even with a loss, the chance for a quick UFC title shot is one chance that he will not want to miss out on.