Tarec Saffiedine attempting to take Tyron Woodley's head off. Photo by Jeff Sherwood of Sherdog
Once again Strikeforce is putting up a match where someone is bound to get slept. It's a great thing for fans, but perhaps not for the participant's brains. Tarec Saffiedine and Roger Bowling have both gained reputations as strikers, with Tarec the more calculated and technical versus Bowling, the resolute brawler.
Both guys are heading into this fight with wins they'd probably prefer to forget however. Saffiedine was last seen going to a decision with Tyler Stinson in a bout that didn't raise many eyebrows other than to devoted fans of Tarec who were worried he didn't look dominant against a fighter he should have readily dispatched.
On the other side is Roger Bowling; currently everyone's hero for knocking out the certified scumbug, and human meadow muffin Brandon Saling. That's not fighter bashing, or opinion, by the way. That description is based on cold hard facts as our own Brent Brookhouse reported.
While Bowling ended up with the decisive TKO win, it was a match in which Saling was more or less in, having caught Roger on several occasions.
Bowling is best known for his trilogy with Bobby Voelker: a series of fights that didn't need a conclusion, but a fun bit of history between both men. With all that spat out, let's take a look at both fighters.
Record: 12-3 | Age 25 | 5'9
Tarec's reputation on the feet is mostly well earned. It's a reputation established by his karate background (specifically, the obscure Shihaishinkai). He loves giving opponents different looks. With his speed, and craft, it's also what explains why he's never been finished. However, critics might argue he's perhaps a little too reserved.
Scott Smith, who should have been completely outmatched, still took Saff to a decision. The fight wasn't close, but in a world where you can't leave it in the hands of the judges because we accept that the judges can't be trusted to do their jobs and therefore find it fitting to defend incompetence with nonsensical soundbites...well then perhaps that qualifies as too close for comfort.
After all, Smith has been finished or submitted in each of his last four fights. But it's not a hard criticism: a decision win need not be any less dominant than a TKO or submission win. Still, it cuts to the heart of where Bowling might have his best chance.
Record: 11-2 | 29 | 5'8
Tarec excels at finding openings. His karate background is the impetus for this, much like Lyoto Machida. While Saffiedine isn't a finisher, he'll find plenty of opportunities to land clean strikes against Bowling.
Whatever Bowling's prospects were, they vanished when he lost a trilogy to Bobby Voelker. Voelker isn't a bad fighter, but not a guy you're gonna lose to if you have a good deal of potential. Bowling's wide, looping punches were what got him into trouble against Saling, who most certainly shouldn't be a few punches away from winning a fight against anyone.
There's not much contrast here. Tarec will land at will. While he should respect Bowling's power, he doesn't have to worry about his technique. The counter right/left will be there all day. On the ground, Saffiedine has shown some flash. He's good at defending takedowns and can threaten position (not necessarily submission, though when Tarec does finish, except for a single fight, he always finishes with a submission). He's very quick to capitalize on mistakes, even if he doesn't have a certified killer instinct. I expect Bowling to get caught, recover, but for Saffiedine to catch him with a choke.
Prediction: Tarec Saffiedine by Submission, round 3.