There's No Question, Tarec Saffiedine Must Fight Tyron Woodley Next

Matt MolgaardCorrespondent IIIJanuary 13, 2013

Jan 12, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Tarec Saffiedine (red and black shorts) celebrates after his match with Nate Marquardt (not shown) in their Strikeforce MMA Welterweight Title bout at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.  Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Tarec Saffiedine has quickly become one of the welterweight division’s greatest surprises. Four years ago no one knew who the man was. And then he signed a contract with San Jose-based promotion, Strikeforce, and his career began an accelerated surge.

Saffiedine earned two victories under the Challengers branch of Strikeforce before being granted the chance to compete with the best the promotion had to offer.

A solid Shark Fights victory over Brock Larson served as one final warm up for Tarec, but upon debuting on an official Strikeforce primary card, he quite suddenly ran into one of the sport’s most discussed prospects, Tyron Woodley.

Woodley used his polished and powerful wrestling to take a unanimous decision over Saffiedine. It marked the Belgian’s first defeat inside the Strikeforce cage, and lit a fire under the now 26-year-old's behind.   

Tarec amassed three more consecutive victories in the following 13 months and showcased vast improvement in each outing. The respectable showing earned Tarec a fight on the final Strikeforce card, against current champion Nate Marquardt.

Nate’s “current” champion status was a fading memory after 25 minutes inside the cage with the underrated challenger. Saffiedine outhustled the High Altitude stud, utilizing calculated aggression and pin-point shots to break the once-exiled UFC contender.

Now is Tarec Saffiedine’s time to shine. He’s coming into his own, cultivating his skills every time he competes, and remarkably he’s a good five or six years from his physical prime. Tarec’s got what it takes to become a great.

But first, I think he’s got an important score to settle.

In seven Strikeforce bouts, Tarec’s come up short in just a single case. I’d bet he’s eager to erase the memory of that loss, and considering his uncanny ability to evolve in this sport, he’s got a very fair shot at claiming redemption.

We know Tyron is headed to the UFC, where he’ll meet Jay Hieron at UFC 156. It seems likely that Tarec is all but a lock as a future part of the UFC roster.

Whether or not Woodley makes it past Hieron in February, Saffiedine deserves a chance to introduce balance between himself and Tyron. The only fight that makes sense for Tarec’s official UFC debut, is a rematch with the only man to defeat him inside the last three years.

Come on Joe Silva: make this fantasy fight a bloody reality!

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