Top-10 UFC welterweight Tarec Saffiedine hasn’t been able to get much momentum rolling because of injury issues, but he has now landed a high-profile assignment for his next Octagon appearance. The organization has confirmed that the former Strikeforce champion will square off on Oct.4 against No. 2-ranked Rory MacDonald in the main event of Fight Night 54 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Saffiedine was the last of the former Strikeforce champs to make his Octagon debut because of injuries. He squared off against Hyun Gyu Lim at Fight Night 34 in Singapore and emerged with a hard-fought unanimous decision win. It was his fifth straight victory and it also produced a Fight of the Night bonus. The Belgian is known for his brutally effective and damaging leg kicks. Saffiedine has a 15-3 career mark with six finishes by knockout or submission.
“Sponge” had actually been targeted to face Jake Ellenberger in his UFC debut in early January, but the American fighter was forced off the card due to an injury. Another attempt to rebook a fight against “The Juggernaut” at UFC 172 fizzled when Saffiedine got hurt. A matchup against the dangerous MacDonald certainly will provide a clear picture of how Saffiedine’s skills stack up against one of the promotion’s best 170-pound fighters.
“Ares” is closing in on a potential title opportunity, and another victory over the No. 10-ranked Saffiedine could have him fighting for gold in 2015. The talented 25-year-old Canadian has won his last two fights since a loss against Robbie Lawler at UFC 167. MacDonald took that setback as a good learning experience and has gone on to defeat Brazilian veteran Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley since that defeat.
MacDonald turned in a strong performance against the explosive Woodley at UFC 174 in Vancouver, dominating his opponent with his impressive striking game and completely negating the “Chosen One’s” attack. MacDonald has gone 8-2 inside the Octagon and is definitely starting to realize his full potential. It will mark his first five-round main event appearance and will take place on his home soil.
The matchup in Halifax shapes up as a pivotal one in the welterweight landscape. Saffiedine will be looking to substantially raise his stock by producing the biggest victory of his career, while MacDonald will be looking to prove to top UFC brass that he’s more than deserving of getting the next title shot following Lawler and champion Johny Hendricks having their rematch.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports