Tarec Saffiedine survived an early scare to rally and show off his ground game en-route to a split decision win over Tyler Stinson tonight at Strikeforce: Rockhold Vs Jardine.
The first round started well for Saffiedine who quickly began to dictate his striking prowess, landing repeated leg kicks and threatening with head kicks too, including a front kick to the face that landed clean.
Stinson kept plodding forward however, and in the final two minutes of the round while the two clinched up against the cage he landed a vicious elbow strike to the head that rocked Saffiedine and left him reeling backwards on shaky legs with blood already beginning to creep from a cut above his eye.
That gave Stinson a big confidence boost and he came on strong looking to make matters worse for his opponent. In desperation Saffiedine attempted to take the fight to the floor only to find Stinson looking for an armbar, but he couldn’t lock it up.
Back on the feet Saffiedine was still having difficulty shaking off the effects of the earlier blow and was simply surviving as Stinson continued to pour on the offense until the bell.
Stinson continued to be the aggressor in the early stage of the round, but as it progressed Saffiedine began to shake off the cobwebs and come back into the fight.
A big moment came mid-way through the round when Saffiedine opted to change things up and go for a takedown, finally completing it after drilling Stinson across the cage.
From their he was able to secure top control and get his own back on Stinson by feeding him a steady diet of ground and pound punches and elbows for the remainder of the round.
After a low blow to Stinson required a brief stoppage early in the third round the two began to trade toe-to-toe momentarily.
Saffiedine then opted to try to repeat his successful strategy from the previous round and looked for another takedown, landing it successfully.
Stinson did his best to get out from underneath, but was unable to and Saffiedine was able to get him up against the fence and produced more strikes from inside his guard.
With just a minute to go Stinson was handed a lifeline when the referee opted to stand them up for a lack of activity, and he tried his best to make it count, going on the offensive with punches and kicks, but Saffiedine was able to use his movement to avoid strikes while throwinh enough in return to keep his opponent at bay until the final bell.
And so it went to the judges who awarded Saffiedine a split decision victory (28-29, 30-27, 29-28).
Saffiedine will likely be disappointed that he didn’t get the upperhand in the striking this evening, but he showed heart and determination to bounce back from being in real trouble in the first round, and showed he’s more than just a striker with his wrestling in the later rounds.