Saturday, January 30th, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey for UFC on FOX 18: “Johnson vs. Bader” by Daniel Tom

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Tarec Saffiedine (15-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 29 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 70.5″
  • Last Fight:TKO loss / Rory Macdonald (10-4-14)
  • Camp: Tristar Gym (Canada)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Strikeforce Welterweight Title
+   Black Belt in Karate & BJJ
+   Amateur Kickboxing experience (12-1-1)
+   5 first round finishes
+   5 Submission wins
+   Good distance management
^   Moves well laterally
+   Disciplined striking defense
^   Head moves well of strikes
+   Effective jab from both stances
^   Conducts tempo/sets up kicks
+   Superb leg kick timing
+   Underrated counter wrestling
^   86% takedown defense
+   Solid defensive grappling & get-up acuity
+/-Consistently fights along fence
–    2 fights in the last 3 years


Jake Ellenberger (30-10)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 30 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: KO loss / Stephen Thompson (7-12-15)
  • Camp: Kings MMA (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Wrestling Base
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   20 KO victories
+   13 first round finishes
+   4 Submission wins
+   KO power/heavy hands
+   Aggressive power double takedown
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Difficult to takedown/control
+   Underrated submission game
+   Effective ground striker
+   Devastating right hand
^   Favors overhands & hooks
–    Often throws himself out of position
–    Subject to activity lulls
–    1 win in 3 yrs. (lost 4 of last 5)


Headlining the preliminary card for “UFC on FOX” is an interesting styles matchup between Tarec Saffiedine and Jake Ellenberger. With this fight originally scheduled back in Januaruary of 2014, MMA’s history has its own funny way of repeating itself. As both men are looking to bounce back from devastating losses, expect a potential pressure cooker of expectation and execution. Fights like this can either bring out the best performances or promote conservative approaches. Sometimes subject to activity lulls, it will be important for Ellenberger to establish himself early physically & mentally. Now back with Rafael Cordeiro at Kings MMA, Jake is in great hands to find the balance that he’s spent the last few years looking for.

It will be interesting to see what adjustments are made for Jake, but hopefully, it involves the aggression that got him to the dance. With a distinct power advantage over Saffiedine and most of the division, Ellenberger is deadly when committing punches to his improved footwork. In my opinion, Tarec is a more technical striker, but putting power behind solid pressure could level the playing field for Jake. Especially during Saffiedines stance switching, Ellenberger could find opportune times to blitz. As we saw in Tarec’s last fight, Rory Macdonald masterfully utilized his long jab to disrupt Saffiedines rhythm upon stance changes. However, Jake does not possess the same frame or skillset as Rory, and will be heavily reliant on his instincts & movement.

Ellenberger will also have to be careful not to let his aggression work against him, as he’ll often throw himself out of position in an effort to follow up. A seasoned striker like Saffiedine will consume healthy servings like these as they’re given. Where I see Ellenberger having issues(in regards to standing with Tarec), is the preemptive plots in which he loads his shots. Despite parlaying this second nature movement into feints, Jake could inadvertently give cues for Saffiedine to work with. Not to mention, these feints are strongly up, down, and forward based. Which will heavily load weight to the front foot, and, in turn, puts legs on a silver platter for strikers like Saffiedine.

If Jake can’t get off early & often, Tarec’s well-timed leg kicks could heavily disruptThe Juggernaut’s” advances. Ellenberger’s best chance to hedge his bets will be by mixing in his wrestling game. Wielding an explosive power double takedown, the mere threat could at the very least open up strikes. Jake also possesses hard ground strikes and an underrated submission game. That being said, Saffiedine demonstrates great instincts off his back with a shown get-up acuity. And with some underrated counter wrestling of his own, it won’t be a path easily accomplished for Ellenberger. Although Jake’s said camp changes prove interesting, the same can be said for Saffiedine as he’s spent this camp at Tristar in Canada. Unless Jake commits to wrestling Tarec to the fence, I ultimately see the technical discipline of the Belgian native paying off.

Official Pick: Saffiedine – Decision

Official Outcome: Saffiedine – Decision

Preliminary Card Predictions

  • Saffiedine def. Ellenberger
  • Mercier def. Ferreira
  • Natal def. Casey
  • Ortiz def. Reis
  • Yakovlev def. Sullivan
  • Caceres def. Fullen
  • Brown def. Dwyer
  • Makashvili def. Jackson
  • Martin def. Olivieri

Recommended Plays

Pieces for your parlay:

-Jimmie Rivera
-Tarec Saffiedine
-Rafael Natal

Props worth looking at:

-Bryan Barberena – Inside the distance
-Randy Brown- by KO/TKO
-Jimmie Rivera – by Decision

Fights to avoid:

-Ben Rothwell vs Josh Barnett
-Tony Martin vs Felipe Olivieri
-Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs Carlos Diego Ferreira

Fantasy MMA Picks

High Tier Picks:

-Anthony Johnson
-Randy Brown
-Jimmie Rivera

Low Tier Picks:

-Ben Rothwell
-Bryan Barnerena
-Felipe Olivieri

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