New Blood

TAREC SAFFIEDINE

 

RECORD: 9-2
KEY VICTORIES: James Terry and Nate Moor
WEIGHT CLASS: Welterweight (170 pounds)
AGE: 24
COUNTRY: Belgium
NICKNAME: Sponge

 

The Kingdom of Belgium isn’t exactly known as the world’s premier hot bed for mixed martial artists. That’s why Belgium-born fighter Tarec Saffiedine—when he decided to take his fight game to the next level—packed his bags and jumped at the opportunity to train full time with Team Quest in Murrieta, California.

 

Growing up in Brussels, Belgium, Saffiedine was a standout basketball player, but he fell in love with martial arts. He has trained in numerous stand-up styles, including kung fu, karate,and Muay Thai.

 

Striking is definitely his forte, but the move to Team Quest in early 2009 has helped to round out his game. With the team’s strong cast of wrestling-based fighters, it has been a perfect fit for Saffiedine, who is now one of the instructors at Team Quest.

 

With an overall record of 9-2, Saffiedine has gone 5-1 since moving to the United States. He stumbled against Dong Sik Yoon late last year at Dream 12, but he has rebounded with two impressive victories under the Strike force banner. He dominated James Terry en route to a lopsided three-round decision early this year, then hit his stride, knocking out Nate Moore on another Strike force: Challengers event at the end of May.

 

Saffiedine has shown strong take down defense, while using his striking strengths to their utmost, culminating in the KO over Moore. The knockout was the first of his young career.

 

“That first round, I was testing the water,” Saffiedine told MMAWeekly.com. “I did not know about him, so I was just trying to see what he had. Then in the second round, I tried to put more pressure on him and ended up knocking him out. The fight went the way I wanted.”

 

The fight also kept Saffiedine on the path he’s hoping to blaze in the promotion—straight to a title shot. But he knows that’s no easy road.

 

“I believe that my next fight will be really tough,” he stated. “I don’t really look for somebody, especially because there’s a ton of good guys, but whoever Strike force wants me to fight, I’ll fight.”

 

ROGER BOWLING

 

RECORD: 8-0
KEY VICTORY: Bobby Voelker
WEIGHT CLASS: Welterweight (170 pounds)
AGE: 28
COUNTRY: U.S.A
NICKNAME: Relentless

 

Fighting his way through the Midwest MMA scene, Roger Bowling finally got his chance to shine on a bigger stage, fighting for Strike force at its recent Challengers Series event in Portland, Oregon.

 

The fight didn’t end on the flashy note that he would have hoped, but Bowling did put on a dominating performance, notching his first victory since stepping out of the comfort of his home region.

 

Bowling, who trains with Team Vision in Cincinnati, Ohio, was impressive, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Bobby Voelker over the opening two rounds. He scored take downs on Voelker, worked the body and head with his boxing combinations, and landed solid kicks.

 

He was well on his way to victory. Then, in the third round, Bowling received an injury to his right eye due to some incidental contact. The fight was stopped and went to the judges’ scorecards, where Bowling easily won a unanimous decision, continuing his quest in the Strike force welterweight division.

 

“I was a little upset about that,” said Bowling to MMAWeekly.com. “I felt like it ruined the first couple rounds that I worked really hard for. I hated to see the fight turn out that way.”

 

Regardless, the fight added to his undefeated record,which now stands at 8-0, and will likely land Bowling in even bigger fights from hereon out.

 

“Whatever Strike force wants me to do right now, I’m their fighter,” he said. “I’m still learning every day, and I’m just excited to be fighting for an organization such as them. They’re taking care or me, so whatever they want, I’ll do it.”

 

With the way that both Bowling and fellow New Blood recipient Tarec Saffiedine are fighting, it could be only a matter of time before their paths cross in a Strike force event.

 

JOHN HATHAWAY

 

RECORD: 14-0
KEY VICTORIES: Diego Sanchez and Paul Taylor
WEIGHT CLASS: Welterweight (170 pounds)
AGE: 22
COUNTRY: England
NICKNAME: The Hitman

 

It’s not often that a fighter racks up an undefeated record, fights on the main card of a UFC pay-per-view, and is still considered a New Blood candidate. But that’s right where John Hathaway lands.

 

Prior to his UFC 114 bout, most people were asking, “Who is this guy fighting Diego Sanchez?”

 

Now everyone’s asking, “What’s next for the guy that just dominated Diego Sanchez?”

 

Hathaway is a former rugby player from Brighton, England, who got into MMA at just about the perfect time in his home country. He climbed his way up the ladder on the local scene, fighting at the highest levels that his native promotions could muster, until the UFC came in and swooped up most of the top talent.

 

Training out of London Shoot fighters and ZT Fight Skool in Brighton, Hathaway fought his way from ZT Fight Night events to Cage Rage Contenders events to full-blown Cage Rage main cards in England over the course of two short years.

 

When the UFC started to make its move into Europe, particularly England and Ireland, they picked up many of the top performers on the U.K. circuit, including Hathaway.

 

He debuted in the Octagon at UFC 93 in Dublin, Ireland, going into hostile territory to defeat Ireland’s own Thomas Egan with a barrage of elbows in the opening round. He backed up that performance with a pair of unanimous decision victories over Rick Story at UFC 99 in Germany and Paul Taylor at UFC 105 in Manchester, England.

 

Hathaway was most impressive in his domination of TUF winner Diego Sanchez at UFC 114 in May.

 

The 6’2”, 170- pounder stuffed most of Sanchez’s take down attempts and picked away at him with a stand-up game that mixed in a smooth blend of boxing combinations and kicks. The only other fighter to manhandle Sanchez in such a fashion was former UFC Lightweight and Welterweight Champion BJ Penn.

 

“I believed that was the kind of way it was gonna go,” said Hathaway, without bravado, after the fight. “All of us athletes, we always like to win and get a finish and always finish in spectacular fashion … but Diego’s an incredibly tough fighter.”

 

At 22 years of age, Hathaway is soft spoken about his most recent accomplishment, comfortable letting others talk him up.

 

“The scary thing about a kid like this is he’s only 22 years old. For a kid his age with his experience, Diego Sanchez is a huge fight. I’m sure there were a lot of nerves,” says UFC president Dana White. “After you get three or four decent fights in the UFC, you start to feel like this is your home. It’s gonna be very scary when he feels like this is his home.”

 

Hathaway may not quite feel that he’s built a home in the UFC just yet, but he sure is building a solid foundation.

Copyright © 2013 FIGHT! Magazine | Contact Us