Fight fans of both boxing and MMA have plenty to look forward to throughout 2013. Saturday night we kick it all off with what appears to be a loaded Strikeforce card.
Ironically this event marks the end for the promotion after being bought out by the UFC this past year. Though their titles won’t mean much after this weekend, the card was set to showcase three championship bouts.
The main event in Oklahoma City features current Strikeforce welterweight titlist Nate Marquardt (32-10-2) defending his strap against top contender Tarec Saffiedine (13-3-0).
Oddsmakers will offer the former UFC product and current champion Marquardt as a considerable favorite, but there was no line at press time. Even with Saffiedine riding a three fight win streak and entering the cage 5-1 with the organization, Marquardt is the proven commodity and brings a wealth of experience compared to the 26 year old from Belgium.
Marquardt’s main motivation besides wanting to be the last Strikeforce welterweight to wear gold is getting back into the good graces of the UFC. He was set to face Rick Story in the featured main event for UFC on Versus 4 until a failed pre-fight drug test stopped him from fighting. A stunned and furious Dana White had little choice but to release him from the UFC and he’s since been trying to earn his way back in.
Marquardt has been in the octagon with the sports elite, like Martin Kampmann, Demian Maia, and Chael Sonnen. His only fight under the Strikeforce banner was for the welterweight strap against top prospect Tyrone Woodley, whom Marquardt beat by KO/TKO in the four rounds.
Saffiedine is definitely not an easy out. The Team Quest product has not been stopped in his 5 years as a pro and he’s extremely well rounded. He lacks finishing power with only 1 KO/TKO plus his five submission wins have been against much lower opposition.
Saffiedine’s lone loss since joining Strikeforce was a unanimous decision to Woodley, who Marquardt handled rather easily and could have probably finished sooner had he taken more risks.
Marquardt’s blueprint is to systematically break down his opponents with efficient striking and excellent wrestling, both offensively and defensively. For his defense against Saffiedine, Marquardt will have a 2 inch height advantage and more importantly, almost a 4 inch edge in reach.
Marquardt’s ability to take Saffiedine down should be the deciding factor.
The line on his co-main event bout has Daniel Cormier a heavy chalk against Dion Starring. It warrants nothing less. Pick: Cormier.
MMA & boxing record: At Pregame.com: 89-49 the last 2 years.
Vegas-Runner, a pro sports bettor in Las Vegas, has been featured on CNBC/ESPN. Follow him on Twitter@vegasrunner, at Pregame.com and on AM 1100 ESPN (also FM 98.9) on Fridays and Sundays from 11 pm to midnight when he co-hosts First Preview. Contact Vegas Runner at [email protected].