Two young fighters emerged as Rising Stars and future world title contenders after impressive wins at last Friday’s Portland Strikeforce Challengers event on SHOWTIME®. Roger Bowling and Tarec Saffiedine both posted victories that drew accolades from media and industry analysts.
Friday’s fights will re-air tonight, Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHO 2. The telecast will also be available On Demand beginning Wednesday, May 26 through Tuesday, June 8.
Bowling improved to 8-0 after facing his toughest opponent to date in Bobby Voelker. Unfortunately for fight fans, the fight ended prematurely after Bowling was accidentally poked in the eye at 3:33 of the third round. He was awarded the victory via unanimous technical decision (29-28 on all cards).
The Portland fans booed not the decision but for the simple fact that they weren’t going to be able to watch any more of the frenetic, non-stop action.
“Even though it ended up being a pyrrhic victory, the now 8-0 Roger Bowling has all the ingredients to be a huge star in the sport,” said SHOWTIME play-by-play announcer Mauro Ranallo. “His fan friendly style makes him a made-for-television talent in the welterweight division.”
Michael David Smith in his article “Strikeforce Has a Star It Can Build On In Bowling” on MMAFighting.com, a division of AOL Fanhouse, wrote Cincinnati’s Bowling, who has only fought on small cards in the Midwest, may be a star in the making: “Bowling (has) dominated everyone he’s ever faced. Bowling isn’t ready for the very top of Strikeforce’s welterweight division — he’ll need at least another year of seasoning before I’d give him any chance against Nick Diaz — but he’s ready for almost every welterweight on the Strikeforce roster other than its champion. Whether they put him on their Challengers cards or on their bigger Saturday night cards, Strikeforce needs to keep putting Bowling in the cage and on TV.”
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said Friday’s Challengers event featured a ton of outstanding, fast-paced action from some of MMA’s brightest up and coming talent. “We saw two potentially great forces emerge in our welterweight division with Tarec Saffiedine and Roger Bowling,” Coker said. “Both Tarec and Roger displayed incredible determination and exceptional striking skills and I think they have a bright future in Strikeforce.”
Saffiedine recorded his first professional knockout, a devastating right hand against Nate Moore midway through the second round, and he did so in a manner that impressed SHOWTIME expert analyst and MMA legend Pat Miletich.
“Tarec Saffiedine used great takedown defense and blistering punches on his way to knocking out his opponent,” Miletich said. “It’s not often you see someone in MMA with crisp and extremely technical striking like Saffiedine. When you see someone that is this good at striking, they usually can’t stop a takedown. Saffiedine is obviously different than the norm.
“Roger Bowling is the other star in waiting. Bowling throws every punch with bad intentions, and seems to have the endurance to keep it up for an entire fight. His leaping left hook reminds me of Joe Frazier and his takedowns are executed with punishing precision. Bowling looks like he’s on his way to stardom.”
Stephen Quadros , SHOWTIME color analyst, called Saffiedine the best technical striker in Strikeforce. “As good as the previous seven Strikeforce Challengers events have been, the installment in Portland on Friday was by far the best. There are two athletes who immediately stood out in my mind, both welterweights: Saffiedine and Bowling. Bowling is a human stick of dynamite with an ultra-aggressive, heavy-handed punching assault, coupled with uncanny wrestling defense, while Saffiedine may be the best technical striker in the organization, who in my opinion will present a tremendous challenge to the champion, the great Nick Diaz.”
Smith wrote that “If Strikeforce is smart, we’ll be hearing a lot about Bowling as the promotion continues to put him in bigger fights against better opponents.”
He continued: “From the outset against Voelker, Bowling was an animal. He has talked about working on his wrestling, and it was impressive to see how quickly he took Voelker down, less than 10 seconds into the first round. Voelker was the bigger man, but Bowling had no trouble at all throwing him around.
“But it’s on his feet where Bowling is at his best. He can connect effectively with his punches and his kicks, has a powerful left hook and likes to use his right leg to kick to the body. He also moves his head well enough that even when he’s standing in front of his opponent and trading shots, he’s not getting tagged nearly as often as he’s connecting himself.
“Bowling was absolutely swarming Voelker for much of the fight.”