Strikeforce: Japanese Comic Books Lead Tarec Saffiedine To Martial Arts

Andrew GladstoneCorrespondent IJanuary 7, 2011

Courtesy of Strikeforce
Courtesy of Strikeforce

Tarec "Sponge" Saffiedine (10-2) is a Strikeforce fighter originally from Belgium who currently resides in Temecula, California to train at Team Quest along side the likes of Dan Henderson and Rameu Thierry Sokoudjou. 

Saffiedine will meet another tough welterweight prospect when he takes on Tyron Woodley tonight on Showtime at 11:00 p.m. ET for Strikeforce Challengers 13.

At Team Quest, Saffiedine is known as the "Sponge" and in his MMA bouts he has showcased an unusual striking style known as Shihaishinkai, a type of karate that includes judo techniques.

Before Saffiedine started training, he read a Japanese comic book that changed his life and it inspired him to become a martial artist.

"It's called 'Free Fight,'" he said, "it talked about a guy who started training in MMA. I was just really into it and I was maybe 15 or 16 years old and I said, 'I want to do the same'.  One of my friends was training at the time and I was reading the book at the same time.  That was when I really started training."

In his last fight, Saffiedine scored a huge win over UFC and WEC veteran Brock via unanimous decision Shark Fights 13 with his unorthodox style of karate.

"It was a big win for me and I came well prepared with a good gameplan," Saffiedine told Bleacher Report. "He was a really strong wrestler and heavy handed on the stand up but not really technical.  I came well-prepared and I was just really focused physically and mentally and it gave me the win."

One of the two blemishes on Saffiedine's record, came at the hands of Dog Sik Yoon back at DREAM 12 via split decision.  The fight was taken on two days' notice, where Saffiedine had to move up a weight class.

"I would really like to fight him again," Saffiedine said. "Yeah, I took that fight on short notice; he wasn't on my weight class either.  Someday if they give me that rematch I'd take it with a little more time to get ready than two days (laughs), but that's not something I'm really focused on right now, but down the road if it happens, then definitely."

Saffiedine has taken notice of his Strikeforce challenger's opponent Woodley's evolution as a fighter and believes that this fight will go everywhere.

"He was purely a wrestler when he started and then he just really improved his stand up," he said. "He's an explosive guy, an explosive wrestler, with fast hands.  Even though stand up is not his forte, he's improved a lot.  I'm sure he's going to come more prepared and more well-rounded than he was before and the fight can go everywhere, I'm coming prepared too." 

With the high quality bout that Saffiedine and Woodley could potentially have, some might say these two should be competing on a major Strikeforce show, but that doesn't bother Saffiedine at all.

"I'm just really excited to fight Tyron, it's a big fight for both of us," Saffiedine said. "For both of us it's a huge step for the big show or even title contention, I don't know.  I don't know what's in the plan for Strikeforce, but they've done a great job so far.  It's just a good fight, and I think it's going to be an exciting fight."