UFC Fight Night 54 Fight Breakdown: Rory MacDonald vs Tarec Saffiedine

macdonald-saffiedine The main event of UFC Fight Night 54 is a five-round welterweight bout between Rory MacDonald and Tarec Saffiedine. According to the current betting lines available at Several Bookmakers, MacDonald is a -500 favorite (bet $500 to win $100) while Saffiedine is a +400 underdog (bet $100 to win $400). MMA linesetter Nick Kalikas opened up MacDonald at -350 and Saffiedine at +250, and the betting action has been in MacDonald’s direction thus far. The line seems too high to find any value here, but I do think MacDonald is a likely winner here and deserves to be favored. Here’s why: MacDonald (17-2) is one of the top welterweight contenders in the UFC. The 25-year-old Canadian is 8-2 overall in the UFC with wins over Tyron Woodley, Demian Maia, Mike Pyle, Nate Diaz, Jake Ellenberger, BJ Penn, Mike Guymon and Che Mills, and his only losses have come to top-ranked fighters Carlos Condit and Robbie Lawler. A teammate of former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, MacDonald trains at TriStar Gym in Montreal and ever since he moved to Quebec after his loss to Condit, he’s gone 7-1 in the UFC with the only loss coming to Lawler by split decision. Clearly, he’s one of the best in the world and his resume proves just that. MacDonald is a well-rounded fighter with excellent striking skills, great wrestling, vicious ground and pound, and also an underrated submission game. He can be a bit tentative in fights and doesn’t have much power in his standing strikes, but he’s extremely technical, uses his reach well, and overall does a good job of not getting hit, although his chin hasn’t looked great the few times he has been hit hard (perhaps his only clear flaw). MacDonald improves every fight and definitely has championship potential. He is clearly one of the best in the world and with a win over Saffiedine at UFC Fight Night 54 he would be deserving of a title shot in the UFC welterweight division. Saffiedine (15-3) is the former Strikeforce welterweight champion and is one of the most underrated 170lbers on the UFC roster. The 28-year-old Belgian has only had one fight in the UFC, a Fight of the Night decision win over Hyun Gyu Lim earlier this year. In that fight he showed off his technical striking skills and his brutal leg kicks, the same weapons that helped him earn a victory over Nate Marquardt for the Strikeforce title, which is still the biggest win of his career to date. Saffiedine is currently on a five-fight win streak at 170lbs and with a win over MacDonald he could jump into the welterweight title picture. He’s a well-rounded fighter with excellent striking technique, solid takedown defence, and great cardio. He hasn’t shown too many flaws in his career although his lack of knockout power is a definite concern. Having said that, I believe Saffiedine is a bad matchup for most guys in the division because he has such good striking technique, which is why he’s fighting MacDonald in a potetial title eliminator, but at the same time this seems like a bad matchup for him as MacDonald is more-or-less a better version of Saffiedine. It’s a winnable fight for Saffiedine if he fights a perfect gameplan, but it won’t be easy to do that against a stud like MacDonald, and that’s why he’s the underdog in this fight. This is going to be an excellent, technical MMA match and I’m looking forward to it very much. MacDonald is undeniably a great talent, but I feel like Saffiedine is one of the most well-rounded and underrated welterweights out there. I expect a pretty competitive battle that plays out mostly on the feet, and things could get interesting if Saffiedine is able to get inside of MacDonald’s range and land his devastating leg kicks. However, I believe MacDonald will once again utilize his impeccable jab in this fight, keep the distance, and outpoint Saffiedine en route to a decision in what should be a technical striking battle. Having said that, I think -500 is too high and I don’t see any value on MacDonald at all here. He should win, but I just don’t think that line is justified, so I think this fight is a pass as far as a bet goes. If anything, the total on the fight going OVER 4.5 rounds at -180 is the best bet of the lines currently available, but overall I think this is just a fight to watch and enjoy, as it should be a fun one.

Written by Adam Martin.

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