Tarec Saffiedine produced a shock result in Strikeforce’s last ever event as he leg-kicked his way to a decision victory over Nate Marquardt to become the promotion’s final welterweight champion.
The first round of this fight was a little cagey as the two men began to feel each other out in the stand-up and also indulged in a little clinch work up against the cage too.
The only real notable moment came when Marquardt pressed forward only to be caught by a jab from the back-peddling Saffiedine that buckled his legs for just a split second, sending him to his knees on the mat and then straight back up again appearing none the worse for wear.
Pretty even overall in the first round though so all to play for in the second and before long Saffiedine clipped Marquardt again, this time with a kick to the body that put him on the mat but the champion immediately looked for the takedown and secured it.
It didn’t last long though as they worked their way back upright in the clinch against the cage. Marquardt’s working hard for a takedown, but can’t get it and eventually they are broken apart.
Saffiedine lands some leg kicks and Marquardt swoops for a takedown, but he can’t get it and so they go back to exchanging.
They are still fighting at a measured pace and there’s not a whole lot between them, with Marquardt finishing the round by going for a spinning kick and falling off-balance in the process.
Back to the clinch they go in the early stages of the third round with Marquardt again trying, but failing to get the fight to the mat. They break free and Saffiedine then initiates another one. This time when they break free Marquardt lands a nice strike.
The two men land a few punches apiece and then Saffiedine starts to work kicks to the legs very nicey and it’s making a real impact with Marquardt’s leg showing big red welts as a result. Marquardt lands a nice uppercut in retaliation.
Saffiedine comes out for the fourth with a spring in his step, really believing now that he can produce an upset here. More kicks to the leg follow and Marquardt’s leg is a mess and he’s starting to limp.
Marquardt’s looking for punches and is having some success with uppercuts but he’s losing a lot of power due to his lead leg. The gameplan is clear for Saffiedine and he continues working to that leg for the rest of the round.
All credit to Marquardt as he pushes forward in the fifth round only to be met with more leg kicks. Saffiedine switches it up with a head kick too and the champion needs to do something big as his title is slipping away from him here.
Marquardt still trying to land hands, but the best punch comes from Saffiedine mid-way through the round with a right that snaps back his opponent’s head before stepping into the clinch.
A minute to go and Saffiedine secures a big takedown to puncuate his domination in this fight. He works some ground and pound and the fight is over.
Onto the scorecards we go and it’s official, Tarec Saffiedine is the new champion, getting a unanimous decision verdict from the judges (48-47, 49-46 x2).
Great win for Saffiedine, saving his best performance for when it mattered most and he’ll now make his way over to the UFC as a somebody rather than just another face in the crowd.
As for Marquardt, this was a poor showing by his standards, but even so I’d still expect him to be taken back on-board by the UFC.