Tarec Saffiedine has an opportunity to take his career to the next level Friday night at Strikeforce Challengers 13. The “Sponge,” a moniker he earned for his ability to learn quickly, will face undefeated Tyron Woodley in the main event.
“I think it’s a great match-up. We are a great challenge for each other and it’s going to be a great fight. I’m looking forward to it,” said the Team Quest fighter.
Saffiedine is riding a three-fight win streak that saw impressive victories over James Terry, Nate Moore, and former WEC contender Brock Larson. He attributes his recent success to “hard training.”
“Team Quest is a really amazing camp and always trains really hard. Everything comes from the hard training I put inside the gym. Lately I’ve been working a lot on my ground game and my wrestling,” revealed the welterweight prospect.
Fight fans cannot ignore Saffiedine’s takedown defense, on display in his last three outings. His improved defense could prove to be invaluable against a collegiate All-American wrestler like Tyron Woodley.
“My last three fights were against wrestlers. Since I’ve been with Team Quest all I’ve been doing is takedown defense. It’s what I’ve been doing for the last three years. It’s really helped me in my last three fights,” explained Saffiedine.
Woodley is considered one of the best up-and-coming welterweights today. The American Top Team fighter has yet to taste defeat and has seven fights under his belt. He is coming off a first-round TKO win over Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu wizard Andre Galvao.
“I watched a couple of his fights. He’s very explosive and a strong wrestler. He’s improved his standup too,” commented Saffiedine. “He’s a well rounded guy.”
So what would a victory over Woodley mean for the Belgian fighter?
“Beating Tyron would be a huge step for me,” said Saffiedine. “I’m not looking past this fight though. I’m focusing on this fight first and then whenever Strikeforce wants me to fight I’ll fight. Of course I want to get to that title one day; if it comes it comes. If a couple more fights, that’s fine with me.”
In a battle between prospects, a win over Woodley would catapult Saffiedine into the upper echelon of Strikeforce’s growing welterweight division. Despite his recent success the 24-year-old fighter remains humble.
“I’m really not looking to be a superstar. It’s really nice to hear (compliments). I’m just training hard and trying to win fights.”
Coming into this fight Saffiedine believes that his experience advantage will lead him to victory over Woodley.
“He’s undefeated and I’m going to try and give him the first loss of his career. I have a little more experience than him; I’ve been fighting for a while. I think this will be the difference coming into the fight. I think it will play a big role,” he said.
“I’ve worked a lot on my stand-up, too; I don’t want to forget my roots. I’m always working on everything, but I was a little more focused on my wrestling this time.”
The Strikeforce Challengers 13 main event between Tarec Saffiedine and Tyron Woodley could have welterweight contender implications in the near future. Regardless of the outcome, the “Sponge” plans on entertaining the fans.
“Being in a main event for Strikeforce is amazing. It’s a huge step for both of us and I’m going to put on an exciting fight for the fans.
“I’m really excited. I’m sick of training and I just want to fight now.”