Strikeforce: Marquardt vs Saffiedine – Takeaways, Betting Recap
Strikeforce made its swan song on Saturday night, and admittedly, it went out with more of a whimper than a bang. The construction of the card didn’t really allow for anything more, as the only intriguing match on the main card was the main event. Even in that situation, the general public grossly misread the fight, and pegged it as another huge mismatch. Everything else went entirely as planned, and there honestly isn’t much to be said for many of the fights. The same could almost be said for my night betting, but we’ll get to that.
The main event was one of the two intriguing fights on the main card. Nate Marquardt defending his newly won Strikeforce Welterweight title, and looking to establish himself as a potential contender after transitioning back to the UFC. The apparent afterthought in this bout was Tarec Saffiedine, a fighter holding a 5-1 record in Strikeforce and graduate of the ‘Challengers’ series. To prove just how overlooked Saffiedine was in this bout, over at Sherdog’s Fantasy game 98% of participants picked Marquardt to walk away the victor. Not to toot my own horn too much, but I was one of the 2% who selected Saffiedine to win the fight. I think the mob mentality got the better of me when it came to betting, as I stuck with my safer play on the bout going to decision @ -105, rather than going outright on Tarec.
My reasoning was that while Marquardt is a dynamic finisher at times, he also has a tendency to lay back and do nothing when things don’t go his way, and he struggles with southpaws in the striking game. I still thought his wrestling could prove an avenue to victory, as his trip takedowns from the clinch are often extremely well-executed. Once Saffiedine proved his takedown defence was up to the task, things began to go downhill for Marquardt. In the end, Saffiedine put together one of the more surprising performances we’re likely to see over the course of the year, and punched his ticket for a far more interesting run in the UFC than anybody could have expected. Plus, I won a unit on the fight.
The two Heavyweight fights aren’t really worth talking about. An obviously not 100% Josh Barnett sent Nandor Guelmino back to Mordor with ease, and Daniel Cormier did whatever he wanted to Dion Staring (although I’m sure people will somehow use the fact that it took 9 minutes for the referee to mercifully stop the bout as ammunition that he’s not an elite heavyweight). Both guys should go to the UFC, and Cormier has championship potential. Barnett is going to continue to give all but the absolute elite big men fits with his well-rounded game.
Gegard Mousasi was in his fully emotionally detached serial killer mode, as he completely controlled Mike Kyle standing, prior to taking him down and just going to town before Kyle essentially packed it in and gave up the easy submission.
A slightly more surprising beatdown, was the one that Ronaldo Souza put on Ed Herman, the only UFC fighter brave/foolish enough to step up against one of Strikeforce’s top talents. Jacare was the faster, more technical, more varied striker. Used that striking to set up his normally underrated wrestling (he often gets pegged as a ‘Jiu-Jitsu guy’, but has fantastic takedowns). Once on top, he got to what he does best, making Herman look like a white belt on the ground as he moved into position to put Ed’s arm on backwards. Jacare, like Cormier, Gilbert Melendez and perhaps Luke Rockhold, is a Strikeforce fighter who has the potential to wrap some gold around his waist once he comes over to the UFC.
On the undercard we primarily saw more mismatches, as Roger Gracie, Tim Kennedy, and Pat Healy all held serve and should move over to the UFC, although I don’t see any making a particularly big splash. The one interesting fight was between KJ Noons and Ryan Couture. Many had pegged Couture as the fighter most likely to come away with an upset on the card… and he did (even though he didn’t). In the eyes of all but two judges, KJ and his fabulous hair controlled the striking for either 10 minutes, or the full 15 minutes (as I saw it). However, somehow Couture walked away with the victory, and in the process the judges pissed all over a 10-team parlay I had included Noons in, and a straight bet on KJ.
My betting night was successful (see my 2013 bet tracking page for full details), but not the night I was hoping to start the year off with. I ended up +1.2U on the night, but would have been up in excess of 16 units had the judges done their jobs correctly (that 10-team parlay would have paid over +1200). One of those nights where good isn’t good enough, but something you have to come to expect when betting on MMA.