Newark, New Jersey: Tarec Saffiedine had only a few issues implementing his strategy against a tough Jake Ellenberger in his long-awaited return to the UFC.
UFC on Fox 18 was held on January 30, 2016 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Tarec Saffiedine vs. Jake Ellenberger took place on the preliminary card which aired on Fox Sports 1.
Saffiedine looked like he was going to take a very measured approach in his return to the cage, while Ellenberger seemed to want to make things ugly. There was very little movement as far as circling goes. It was mainly just forwards and backwards as Saffiedine looked for headkicks and Ellenberger wanted to use his hands. Saffiedine started throwing a series of hard jabs at the midway point of the round that kept Ellenberger stuck on the outside and in kicking range. Jake landed a thudding right hook, though, and clearly stunned Saffiedine for a moment. He pushed forward, but Tarec seemed to have recovered quickly. Saffiedine went back to implementing his strategy and it looked like Ellengberger let him off the hook when the bell sounded.
Saffiedine landed a good right at the beginning of Round 2 that seemed to have Ellenberger slightly off keel, but he got his wits back quickly. Tarec was doing a good job of staying out of Jake’s range while still being able to snap kicks to Ellenberger’s head. He used his jab when Ellenberger tried to advance and easily circled away before throwing kicks again. Ellenberger could barely land anything unless Saffiedine decided to come forward, which wasn’t often. After a brief break because of a low blow from Saffiedine, Ellenberger ate two hard high kicks with his arms before dancing away. He did stand still long enought for Ellenberger to get a quick takedown at the end of the stanza, but Saffiedine stood right back up and the round ended.
Tarec continued to live on the outside of Ellenberger’s range to start the final round, but Jake eventually rushed in looking for a takedown. He achieved a clinch, but couldn’t hold it and once again found himself eating kicks while being stuck on the outside. This really was just a rinse-and-repeat strategy for Tarec. Kick on the outside, jab when Ellenberger advances, kick again after circling away. Jake had no answer. He even slammed his own head into the fence after missing a wild shot while rushing in…Jake did get close enough to clinch in the final minute, but Saffiedine ended gaining top position and taking back. Ellenberger was up with a few seconds left, but failed to end the fight before the bell rang.
Official Result: Tarec Saffiedine def. Jake Ellenberger via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Tarec Saffiedine improved to 16-4 in his return to the Octagon. Ellenberger dropped his 5th fight in 6 attempts and falls to 30-11.
— UFC (@ufc) January 31, 2016