170 lbs: Tarec Saffiedine vs. Scott Smith
The first fight of the main card is a welterweight match between Belgian fighter Tarec Saffiedine and Scott Smith. Saffiedine is a fighter who trains out of Team Quest in Temecula with guys like Dan Henderson. As might be expected, Saffiedine has decent Greco-Roman wrestling and clinchwork, but he’s also featured decent striking, with a good overhand right, straight punches, and leg kicks.
However, I can’t see Saffiedine doing well in a striking match against Scott Smith. As far as I see it, Smith has faster hands and better power. Saffiedine only has one KO victory in his career thus far, although it took place against a good opponent in Nate Moore at Strikeforce Challengers 8. Smith, on the other hand, has 14 wins by KO/TKO, and his last 11 wins, dating back to August 2004, have all been by KO or TKO. If this is a striking match, Smith has a very clear advantage. Saffiedine needs to either work in the clinch, or take Smith down and play the jiu-jitsu game.
Smith has the better resume, hands down. Saffiedine does have a recent win against Brock Larson, but Larson just recently got knocked out in seven seconds in a fight, so that may not be as impressive as it seems at first glance. Meanwhile, Smith has scored wins against fighters like Cung Le, Benji Radach, Terry Martin, and Kyle Noke. Throw in the fact that Saffiedine has a loss (albeit by split decision) against Dong Sik Yoon, and Smith simply wins the battle of the resumes.
SILVA PREDICTION: SCOTT SMITH (32.27) OVER TAREC SAFFIEDINE (22.40)
Saffiedine seems to have some real hype behind him, as he’s the strong betting favorite here. I honestly don’t get why. Don’t get me wrong, Smith is no world-beater, and as he’s now a 9-year veteran of MMA (and 0-2 since the 9-year mark), the possibility is there for Saffiedine to score a victory. But from both a historical and stylistic standpoint, it’s hard to see it happening. If Saffiedine gets Smith to the ground, great, but I think it’s much more likely that Smith scores his 15th TKO victory on Saturday night.
170 lbs: Paul Daley vs. Tyron Woodley
Paul Daley is the rare example of a fighter who has clearly improved at a relatively late stage in his career. Before his UFC debut against Martin Kampmann, Daley was 21-8-2, and his best win was against your choice of Dave Strasser, Daniel Weichel, Duane “Bang” Ludwig, Bojan Kosednar, or John Alessio. Since then, Daley has scored victories against Kampmann, Dustin Hazelett, Daniel Acacio, Jorge Masvidal, and Scott Smith. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take that second group of wins over the first.
Still, there’s something Kampmann, Hazelett, Acacio, Masvidal, and Smith have in common: none of them are wrestlers. And when Daley fought a wrestler in Josh Koscheck, he got taken down repeatedly and frustrated to the extent that he sucker punched himself out of the UFC. Daley will get no reprieve when he fights Tyron Woodley on Saturday; Woodley has taken a wrestling base and supplemented it with good submission skills and decent hands to start his career 8-0. The onus is on Daley to prevent Woodley from taking him down, and history suggests that Daley isn’t particularly likely to pull it off.
That’s especially true because Woodley has really gotten off to a fantastic career start; four of his eight wins are well-rated by Victory Score: Rudy Bears, Nathan Coy, Andre Galvao, and Tarec Saffiedine. The result is a SILVA score that places him below the following UFC welterweights:
- Georges St. Pierre
- Jon Fitch
SILVA PREDICTION: TYRON WOODLEY (45.16) OVER PAUL DALEY (35.16)
Now, I haven’t yet mentioned Daley’s power striking; naturally, if Woodley for some reason decides to fight stupid and stand and bang with Daley (like Dustin Hazelett did), then he’ll probably end up unconscious. I don’t think that’s going to happen; Woodley is a wrestler first and foremost, and as Koscheck demonstrated, that’s the best style to take into a fight with Paul Daley. SILVA loves Woodley to win this one, and so do I.