One of the most interesting ideas in mixed martial arts is the fact that a fighter can come out of nowhere to be a pseudo star all because of one fight. Being the underdog in most sports doesn’t give you much hopes of winning but in MMA an athlete should never be counted out just because they aren’t considered the favorite. Just this past weekend we saw another example of why being the underdog can make victory taste that much more sweet.
Coming into Strikeforce: Marquardt versus Saffiedine many people were unsure of who the fighter known as “Sponge” truly was. Unless you had been an avid follower of Strikeforce and their Strikeforce: Challengers series odds were that you may not be too familiar with the Belgian fighter. This fight was expected to be a showcase for Nate Marquardt to prove why he still belonged in the UFC and should have never been removed from their roster. By the end of the evening, all of that had drastically changed.
Using a crisp striking attack, Saffiedine was able to thwart any real offense that Nate could muster and worked his way to a five round decision victory and became the last man to hold the Strikeforce welterweight title. The damage from the multiple leg kicks that Marquardt received left his legs battered and the pictures of the purple mass of bruising have made their way across the social media world. As it is expected for Tarec to be moved to the main UFC roster, it will be interesting to see how well he translates to what is considered the biggest stage in all of MMA.
At 14-3 “Sponge” doesn’t hold a resume that is comparable to many fighters currently jockeying for position at 170 simply because he hasn’t competed against the biggest names. Marquardt is the most marquee name he has defeated since his career began back in 2007. He’s riding a four fight win streak that dates back to 2011 when he suffered his last defeat due to Tyron Woodley’s use of the “lay and pray” wrestling style. Saffiedine held a 7-1 Strikeforce record which was the biggest promotion he had competed in. Before that, he fought for Dream where he was just 1-1.
While it has not been officially announced, it should be expected for Tarec Saffiedine to become a contracted UFC fighter soon. Being the only Belgian athlete to hold a title within a Zuffa organization, the company should give him the opportunity to test his abilities against the best. He will also have some value to them as a draw while they continue their expansion throughout Europe. He was considered a major underdog coming into his first and only title shot, but with his one-sided victory, it’s time for the “Sponge” to soak it all in.