Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, OK Saturday, January 12, 2013 Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nate Marquardt (-275) Profile: Nate Marquardt (32-10-2) earned the Strikeforce welterweight title with a knockout against Tyron Woodley. This after the 33-year-old appeared headed toward the downside of his career after being released by the UFC for not receiving medical clearance to fight following testosterone replacement therapy. Marquardt was going to face Rick Story at UFC on Versus 4 in his debut at welterweight two years ago and defeated Dan Miller by unanimous decision at UFC 128 as a middleweight on March 19, 2011. He is 3-2 in his last five bouts overall, beating Miller and Rousimar Palhares and losing to Yushin Okami and Chael Sonnen before winning the Strikeforce title against Tyron Woodley last July 14. Three of those fights, including the two losses, ended with unanimous decisions while the other two resulted in knockout wins. Strikeforce Welterweight Contender Tarec Saffiedine (+215) Profile: Tarec Saffiedine (13-3) enjoyed a steady stream of success on the independent circuit, which led him to training with the legendary Team Quest in California and a stint with DREAM. The 26-year-old Belgian fighter was an alternate in DREAM’s welterweight tournament in 2009 before he was quickly snatched up by Strikeforce, where he has posted a 5-1 record since early 2010, with his only loss coming at the hands of welterweight title contender Woodley. Saffiedine is most comfortable on his feet, as he’s a black belt in the Shihaishinkai form of karate, but he uses it as a way to wear down his opponents until an opening in their defense is found, in which case he will go for any submissions when they make themselves available. Opening Strikeforce Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas made Marquardt a solid -275 favorite (bet $275 to win $100) while Saffiedine opened as a +215 underdog (bet $100 to win $215) according to the MMA odds. This is a title fight, so both fighters will want the distinction of crossing over to the UFC as a champion. This would be especially meaningful for Marquardt to help him atone for getting cut from the UFC. Saffiedine has spent nearly half of his MMA career fighting in Strikeforce and should get the opportunity to jump to the next level, win or lose. “Sponge” has suffered just one loss since 2009 (falling to Woodley) and at just 26 years of age looks to be entering his prime. He is seven years younger than Marquardt and hopes to use his youth to his advantage. Marquardt showed he is far from done though with his dominating victory against Woodley for the title. Saffiedine has endured a couple close calls in his last two fights and might be in for another thriller if he is to defeat Marquardt and close out Strikeforce as the new champ.