Tarec SaffiedineThe early fights at Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman had a little bit of everything including a new welterweight title contender crowned, a thunderous one-punch knockout and a quick submission on the ground.

Tarec Saffiedine vs. Roger Bowling

It was a title eliminator when Tarec Saffiedine met Roger Bowling, with both men hoping to take one more step towards a shot at champion Nate Marquardt.

While it wasn’t the flashiest fight of the night, Saffiedine controlled the action for all 15-minutes with a very technical striking attack. The Belgian born fighter cracked Bowling with kicks to the legs throughout the fight, while mixing in some fast punches and even landed some jaw-rattling shots with his knees in the first round.

Bowling fired back with power and did manage to hammer Saffiedine to the body a few times, but he struggled to deal with the technical prowess of his opponent who trains out of Team Quest. The judges all saw the fight the same way with 30-27 scores giving Saffiedine the shut out, unanimous decision victory.

Now Saffiedine likely stands near the top of the list of potential contenders along with former Pride stand-out Kazuo Misaki as the fighter to possibly challenge welterweight champion Nate Marquardt later this year.

“Who is with me for (the) title?” shouted Saffiedine voicing his desire to battle for the Strikeforce welterweight belt.

Lumumba Sayers vs. Anthony Smith

Anthony Smith made quick work of Lumumba Sayers with a textbook triangle choke finish in the first round of their middleweight match-up.

The two fighters scrambled on the mat when the fight began, but eventually they made their way back to the feet. It was then that Sayers burst forward with a punch, and initially it appeared that he caught and dropped Smith, but in reality his opponent just slipped and immediately pulled guard as Sayers rushed into the ground game.

A moment later, Smith’s leg was up and around Sayer’s head and locked in for a triangle choke. It only took a few seconds and Sayers was tapping Smith’s thigh to signal the end of the bout.

Ovince St. Preux vs. T.J. Cook

It took until the start of the third round, but only one punch for Ovince St-Preux to close the book on T.J. Cook.

The former Tennessee Volunteer football player was coming back from a loss to Gegard Mousasi and started out very strong, nailing Cook with punches in the first round and even dropping him during an exchange. Cook appeared to be out, but referee Mark Beltran let the action continue and he was able to recover and even fired back tagging St-Preux with some shots.

A slow second round gave way to a quick and devastating finish to start the third after St-Preux connected with a huge left hook that dropped Cook to the mat. The fight was stopped immediately as a stunned Cook could only stare up at the lights.

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