The hope and the promise that was the beginning of 2013 for Tarec “Sponge” Saffiedine, has now given way to questions of wondering when the fighter will be able to return to the Octagon.
Saffiedine, who rested the Strikeforce welterweight belt from the hands of Nate Marquardt back in January of this year, has since been sideline with two “undisclosed” injuries and has been unable to fight or even train.
According to Sponge, the first injury was incurred during his championship bout with Marquardt, while the second was sustained during his training camp for his July 27th match and scratch, with Roby Lawler.
Now it seems that Sponge’s injuries will continue to confound him even further and as such, the fighter is not anticipating being back in the Octagon until sometime next year. The unfortunate part about it of course, is that his injuries are once again costing him a great opportunity and this time, in the way of a fight with surging and now ranked (#10) welterweight, Matt Brown.
Regarding that fight and the hype around Brown, it was the stated intention of UFC President Dana White to match Saffiedine with Brown, however, with Saffiedine’s injuries the possibilities of that bout occurring seem to have (now) been discarded.
Beyond a fight with Brown and a chance to steal “The Immortal’s” thunder, the sidelining is also preventing Sponge from getting his name out there as a title-contender. As Brown is now a big-name in the 170 pound division and a fighter currently being groomed for a title-shot, a fight with Brown and a win over him, would launch Saffiedine into contender status, and mark his UFC debut performance with a significant divisional victory.
However and alas, it doesn’t look to be in the cards.
In terms of his actual status and when he might be back, Saffiedine told Yahoo Sports “Cagewriter” that’s he’s not entirely sure, but at the same time, he’s doing what he can to be ready and stay in shape.
As Sponge put it:
“I'm shooting to come back end of this year, beginning of next year. The thing is, I won't know for a few weeks from my doctor when I'm going to have the green light to come back and train. I can't train right now because of the injuries…but I'm not sitting on the couch all day… I'm trying to stay in shape and live a healthy lifestyle as best as I can."
However, as one man’s loss is another’s gain and in an effort to seize-the-day, Carlos Condit has stepped into the fray and is now seeking to lay claim to Saffiedine’s opportunity, and is calling for a fight with Matt Brown.
As Condit told “MMAJunkie.com/Radio” on Thursday, "He's been on a tear, and it'd be really exciting for the fans. I'd like that fight, and we'll have to see what happens.”
Indeed, I’d have to agree with Condit; the fans would find that an exciting match and probably more so than a Brown / Saffiedine bout.
Tarec is, from what we can tell at least, a solid fighter, but he’s also an un-proven commodity in the UFC and as such, would bode to be a questionable test for the KO happy Brown. If he were to beat the Immortal, particularly decisively, then he’d solidly prove himself within the 170 division. However, should he lose and particularly badly, then questions would or could still remain, as to whether or not Brown had been tested by a top-tier fighter.
In the case of Carlos Condit, there would be no debate. If Matt Brown were to beat “The Natural Born Killer”, and again, particularly if he could do it decisively, then Matt Brown will have truly arrived within the division and certified himself as a serious contender, and one that would either get the next title-shot or would, at the very least, be only one fight away from a title-challenge.
As everyone knows Carlos Condit is no joke and not to a fighter to be trifled with. He would be a remarkable test for Brown and his impressive 6 fight winning streak, and a bout between the two would surely be a barn-burning event.
For his part, Condit is a bright guy. He’s hot and coming off of a great victory over Martin Kampmann. To take a fight with Brown right now and win, keeps Condit both active and fresh, and could easily secure him another shot at the title, and a chance to avenge either his loss to GSP or Johny Hendricks; something that Condit would like very much, to do.
Other incentives for TNBK to take a fight with Brown would be that he just camped and fought (August 28th), so he’s already in fighting shape. Further, he’d be facing another striker, which is what he just camped for and an opponent who’s not renowned for his wrestling skills; Condit’s principal weakness. Further still, all the pressure in the fight would be on Brown, not Condit.
Add it all up and it’s nothing but favorable conditions for Carlos to seek and accept a fight with Brown.
All things considered, this is a great opportunity for both fighters and a bout that should be made. If White does pull the trigger on this fight, which I believe he probably will, then whoever wins the match wins big and regardless of the winner, the fans would certainly win by seeing these two great fighters go at it.