Strikeforce Picks: Welterweights Nate Marquardt (-275) vs. Tarec Saffiedine (+215)

Tarec SaffiedineStrikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, OK Saturday, January 12, 2013 Welterweights: Nate Marquardt (-275) vs. Tarec Saffiedine (+215) Fight Breakdown: Strikeforce welterweight champion Nate Marquardt returns to the Strikeforce cage to defend his newly-won title for the first time against Tarec Saffiedine, who is fighting in the biggest match of his career this Saturday night at the Strikeforce finale. Marquardt (32-10-2) is a former UFC middleweight title challenger, but he dropped to 170 pounds in his last fight – which was his Strikeforce debut – and fought Tyron Woodley for the vacant Strikeforce welterweight title, defeating the formerly undefeated wrestler via vicious fourth-round KO in one of the most thrilling fights of 2012. In his career, the 33-year-old member of Grudge Training Center has knockout wins over Woodley, Demian Maia, Martin Kampmann and Rousimar Palhares, amongst others, and his only recent losses have come to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, Chael Sonnen, and Yushin Okami (he also lost to Thales Leites via controversial decision). He’s one of the best fighters in the world when he’s on, and he’s a huge 170-pounder for the division. He’s a legitimate threat for UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. Saffiedine (13-3) is one of the most underrated welterweights on the planet. The 26-year-old Team Quest product is a quiet yet solid 5-1 in Strikeforce, and his only loss came to Woodley. A native of Belgium, Saffiedine is currently riding a three-fight winning streak, defeating Roger Bowling, Tyler Stinson and Scott Smith during that stretch. He’s been looking better and better in every fight and is known to be a solid striker, a good defensive wrestler and quite simply a winner. However, Marquardt is by far the biggest step-up in his career to date, and Saffiedine’s lack of experience in a main event against a top-level fighter, and in a five-round title fight, may play a role in the outcome. Saffiedine also isn’t much of a finisher, with most of his fights going to decision, and that may come back to haunt him against Marquardt, who usually wins via knockout or submission. Fight Prediction: Saffiedine is a solid fighter, but I believe he’ll be in over his head here against Marquardt.¬†Although he’s never been finished in his career, the durable Belgian will surely taste the power of Marquardt over the course of 25 minutes. So the question is, will Saffiedine’s chin hold up? I don’t think it will. I think Marquardt is going to survive some scary moments and drag this fight into the championship rounds and ultimately finish Saffiedine with strikes. Adam’s Pick: Marquardt via fourth-round TKO (click for latest MMA odds) Adam’s Recommended Play: It’s possible that Saffiedine wins a decision, but it’s extremely unlikely because I think Marquardt will be able to finish him before the end of five rounds. I’d say put Marquardt in a parlay with another big favorite like Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza or Pat Healy.

Written by Adam Martin.

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Strikeforce Picks: Heavyweights Daniel Cormier (-1750) vs. Dion Staring (+1050)

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