UFC Fight Night 54: MacDonald vs. Saffiedine Date: October 4, 2014 Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada Venue: Scotiabank Centre Broadcast: FS1 UFC Welterweight Contender Rory MacDonald A man who many consider the future of the UFC welterweight division, Rory MacDonald (17-2) is just 25 years of age, with his only losses coming against former UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit and current No. 1 contender Robbie Lawler. Since the loss to Lawler, MacDonald has defeated Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley to emerge as one of the top contenders for the UFC welterweight title, especially since his mentor Georges St-Pierre took a break from the spot. At present time, MacDonald is currently as close as you can get to the top of the division without actually being the champ. The lanky Canadian is a deadly finisher as he possesses ground-and-pound as lethal as MMA fans have ever seen, and he seems to be growing hungrier for a title shot with every fight as he continually shows improvement. Anyone who faces MacDonald at this point will have a difficult time, because when he’s up close his wrestling is very strong and when he’s on the feet he uses his jab to keep the range, and these skills make him a bad matchup for anyone at 170lbs. He wants the title shot, and if he can beat Tarec Saffiedine in the main event of UFC Fight Night 54, he will likely get his crack at the title against the winner of UFC 181’s main event between Johny Henricks and Robbie Lawler. UFC Welterweight Contender Tarec Saffiedine Strikeforce welterweight champion Tarec Saffiedine (15-3) enjoyed a steady stream of success on the independent circuit earlier in his career, which led him to training with the legendary Team Quest in California and a stint with DREAM. The 28-year-old Belgian fighter was an alternate in DREAM’s welterweight tournament in 2009 before he was quickly snatched up by Strikeforce, where he posted a 6-1 record, capped by a unanimous decision win over Nate Marquardt to win the Strikeforce welterweight title at the promotion’s finale. He then had a stellar UFC debut, defeating Hyun Gyu Lim via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night 34 in one of the best fights of 2014. Saffiedine is most comfortable on his feet, as he’s a black belt in the Shihaishinkai form of karate, and he uses his striking as a way to wear down his opponents until an opening in their defense is found, in which case he will sometimes go takedowns when they make themselves available. Although he has decent boxing, it’s his legs that are his top attribute, as he has some of the best leg kicks in the game, a great chin, and a great gas tank, and only injuries seem to be holding him back from achieving greatness at this point. He once again missed time after the Lim fight with injury, but now healthy, he takes on top-ranked Rory MacDonald in a possible welterweight title eliminator at UFC Fight Night 54. Opening UFC Fight Night 54 Main Event Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas made MacDonald a -350 favorite (bet $350 to win $100) while Saffiedine opened as a +250 underdog (bet $100 to win $250) at Several Bookmakers. This is a five-round welterweight main event and the winner of this fight will likely be next in line for a crack at the title. It should be an excellent fight for as long as it lasts between two of the most technical strikers in the UFC welterweight division, and it should be highly competitive as both fighters match up very evenly against one another, with both possessing great striking as well as solid takedown defence. Having said that, Saffiedine is always a guy who has been underrated by the betting public while MacDonald is a guy who is always overrated by the betting public, so it makes sense MacDonald is the favorite here. Plus, the fact the fight takes place in Canada can’t hurt him. It should be a close fight, but most of the action figures to come in on MacDonald and that’s why he’s the favorite heading into the matchup.