The match-up that was set for UFC Singapore, but was scrapped after an injury to Ellenberger, has now found a home. Ellenberger will now fight Saffiedine at UFC 172, headlined by a highly anticipated title tilt between Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira on April 26 at Baltimore Arena. The Ellenberger-Saffiedine match-up sees the man ranked #5 against the #9 welterweight, making this a bout with big title implications.
UFC Singapore was slated to first host the Jake Ellenberger vs. Tarec Saffiedine match-up, but the former suffered a hamstring injury which forced him to pull out. He was replaced by tough South Korean Hyun Gyu-Lim, who looked very impressive in his last bout coming into the fight in a first round knockout over Pascal Krauss. He showed his grittiness when fighting ex-Strikeforce champ Saffiedine, but ultimately lost a hard-fought decision after a barrage in the later stages of the fifth round.
The win over Lim marked a five-fight win streak for the Belgian, with impressive wins over Nate Marquardt and Tyler Stinson. Albeit all five of the wins are decisions, the manner in which he won the last two puts him in title contention – especially with a win over Ellenberger. He once again showed his brutal leg kicks in the win over Lim, an art that is becoming ever-present in mixed martial arts. Many media members and fans alike state that Saffiedine had the ability to finish Lim, but he still looked impressive considering the year long lay-off.
Ellenberger will be coming into the fight off a lacklustre performance against Rory MacDonald, a losing effort that went to a decision in one of the more disappointed, highly-awaited fights in recent UFC history. Though it is hardly embarrassing to lose to the young prospect MacDonald, it was the lack of urgency shown by Ellenberger despite being two rounds down that was most uninspiring. Despite this, The Juggernaut is 8-2 in his last ten bouts in the UFC, including wins over Nate Marquardt, Diego Sanchez and Jake Shields, who have all fought for UFC gold in the past.
So, what does this fight mean for the welterweight title picture? An impressive win for Ellenberger puts him right back in the frame despite the poor performance against MacDonald; his marketability is obvious – knockout power, an impressive resumé and a former marine. Saffiedine, on the other hand, will merely continue his climb up the ladder, but if he is able to get a finish over Ellenberger then the climb could be more rapid. I would expect that the winner of this fight would be just one more win away from a shot at Hendricks or Lawler’s UFC welterweight strap in the future.