Former Strikeforce welterweight champion Tarec Saffiedine will up the ante this October when he takes on top UFC contender Rory MacDonald at UFC Fight Night 54 in Canada.
Saffiedine, who has fought just once since early in 2013, is coming off a decision win over Hyun Gyu Lim in his Octagon debut this past January. The soon-to-be 28-year old is on a five-fight win streak that includes victories over Nate Marquardt and Scott Smith.
“Yeah I wasn’t really expecting to fight him, but at the same time, I asked for that fight, you know. People where asking me who I want to fight next and after I watched him fight Tyron Woodley, I was like ‘Man I want to fight that guy, and I wanna fight the best, and he is one of the best,'” said Saffiedine, during a recent interview with Submission Radio. “I believe it was an exciting fight to put on, and so I asked for the fight and they gave it to me.”
MacDonald will be competing in his home country and is coming off a decision victory over Tyron Woodley. He is on a two-fight win streak and is 7-1 in his last eight with the lone loss coming via split decision to No. 1 contender Robbie Lawler.
“You know, you are as good as your last fight right? So when I watch his fight against Tyron, you know he did good, nothing to take away from, him but while I was watching that fight, man I was like ‘Man I can beat that guy’. The way he moves, the way he throws his punches, the way he set up his kicks, the way he sets up take downs, you know I truly believe I have the skills and the mindset to beat him, and that is one of the reasons I asked for that fight as well,” Saffiedine said. “And you know, he’s a technical fighter, he can keep the same pace as the fight goes on, he has no kickboxing, his kicks are OK, his wrestling’s not bad, but I don’t think he’s going to be able to take me down. And I think you know, I match up pretty well with him as far as technique. If I’ve got a good game plan, and I have a pretty good idea of what I’m gonna do, If I stick to it, I’m pretty sure I’m going to get the W.”
Getting a top contender – Saffiedine was expected to fight Jake Ellenberger before injuries scrapped the bout – in MacDonald will provide the Belgium fighter with a perfect chance to stake his claim in the 170-pound division.
“It’s one of the reasons why I wanted the fight also, because he is tough. You know I have everything to gain from winning that fight. I have everything to gain, nothing to lose. I think he has more to lose than me, and I have to put on a good fight, I have to win decisively,” he said. “If I win by decision, which I hope I don’t, I have to win every round, you know I can’t leave it the judges in a way that it might go one way or another, I have to win decisively. And you know after that ‘W,’ definitely that will put me right there in the mix.”