Woodley is eyeing an 8-0 record tonight (Photo by Esther Lin, Strikeforce).
Welterweight Match Headlines Strikeforce Challengers 13 in Nashville
Strikeforce Challengers 13 heads into the Nashville Municipal Auditorium on Friday night in Middle Tennessee, with undefeated welterweight Tyron Woodley (7-0) facing Tarec Saffiedine (10-2-1) in the card’s main event. A lot of hype and expectations surround the 28-year-old Woodley, but the rising MMA star is careful to not overlook the skillful Saffiedine.
“I feel good for the fight, you know?” Woodley stated. “Tarec is a tough guy, but I think, realistically, it’s just my time to move forward to the belt. I’m just going in there with a smart chip on my shoulder that he’s a tough guy, he does a lot of things well, a lot of things great. I’m a fan of his watching him as a spectator, but when that cage closes, I think it’s just going to be me and him trying to make our stake and make our claim towards the belt.”
The winner of this fight will certainly move himself up the welterweight rankings, edging closer to Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz. Woodley is the big favorite to be that man tonight in the Music City, although he may not see it that way.
“I don’t pay attention to that because I don’t pick myself to be that big of a favorite in this fight,” Woodley said. “I think it’s a close fight just because I know him, whether or not the fans know him or not. I know he’s great at stopping takedowns. I know he’s a great striker from both stances. I know he’s a great counter puncher.”
While humble with much respect for his opponent, Woodley does feel that he possesses the tools to emerge victorious against Saffiedine.
“For me, it’s just really I think I’m stronger,” he remarked. “I think I’m more explosive. I think I’m faster. I think I’m a better wrestler than he’s ever wrestled. Me getting him to the ground isn’t going to be the same defense he’s had on other guys. I think with all that said and also my faith is so strong. I think God has me in this for a reason. I think it’s my time and my season to be going towards a Strikeforce World Title, and I think this is the guy I have to get through to do it, so let’s get through it.”
A two-time NCAA All-American wrestler, Woodley competed alongside Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren and unbeaten prospect Michael Chandler in college. He currently fights out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, and tonight’s pairing with Saffiedine will be his sixth overall bout in Strikeforce. Only once has the Missouri native been taken to the judges’ score cards in his professional career, a split decision win over Nathan Coy, with five of his other six matches ending in the first round.