Tarec Saffiedine was a puzzle that Scott Smith could not solve.
Smith’s second fight at welterweight was spoiled as “Sponge” out struck and outclassed him in route to a unanimous decision victory in Chicago. From bell to bell he kept Smith at the end of his jab as he used it to set up several thunderous head kicks.
Saffiedine told HeavyMMA that everything went according to plan.
“The game plan was to pick him apart, stick and move and go from there. My last fight I didn’t follow the game plan, so this fight I was really focused on sticking to it. I believe I did that pretty well. He is a big guy. He used to fight at light heavyweight, if I remember well. He’s pretty strong but I felt very comfortable in there against him. I wouldn’t say I was weaker or anything.”
Saffiedine wobbled Smith on several occasions throughout the fight, but “Hands of Steel” refused to go down. Despite his efforts, Smith’s resilience was the only part of his game that showed up on Saturday night.
“I think I confused him with my jab and footwork. I like to switch stances and it worked very well against him. I think he got frustrated and it showed because my striking became better and better throughout the rounds. I ended up putting my game plan together pretty well.”
“He’s definitely one of the toughest guys I’ve ever fought. I was thinking to myself, “what do I have to do to drop him for good?” All I can say is that [Smith] is a tough, tough guy and I’ll go back to the gym and work on the things that I need to improve.”
At the post fight press conference Scott Coker stated Saffiedine and Tyron Woodley, who was also successful on the card, were at the top of the heap for the vacated welterweight title. The two men squared off earlier this year with Woodley walking away with the victory, but Saffiedine chalked up the first go around to a poor performance and is ready to do it again.
“I am definitely interested in that fight. I would love a rematch against Woodley. Last time I didn’t do well against him. I know that, he knows that and hopefully down the road we will fight again.”