It’s been nearly a year since Tarec Saffiedine stepped into the Octagon.
The talented Belgian finally returns Saturday when he meets Hyun Gyu Lim at UFC Fight Night 34. Ahead of the bout, he joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show to discuss his opponent, his time off and more.
On why he’s been out of action since January: “Unfortunately, little injuries kept me from being able to come back and fight. I was training really hard until I was supposed to fight Robbie Lawler [and] I got injured. It took me a little bit of time to recuperate, but now I’m ready. I can’t wait to get back in there. I’m just very excited to come back.”
On whether it was discouraging to be on the shelf for so long: “For half of the year, I was training. It’s not like I took a full year off. For three, four months I had to take some time off, but I wasn’t sitting at home, being injured and crying over myself, eating pizza and ice cream all day. I was focused as much as I can. I was focused to come back, come back stronger, come back better. I was eating healthy. I was training as much as I could.”
On whether he struggled financially during his time off: “It was kind of hard, but at the same time, I’m somebody who saves money. I’m not somebody who spends a lot of money. Me and my wife are always being careful [with] our spending because that’s the only income we have is me fighting and my sponsors. We just have to be careful with all the spending and saving and everything. This fight career that I choose, you have to be careful with the money that you earn and the money that you spend. And we saved money for this type of situation … so we went through it pretty good.”
On rest: “I think it’s going to help me. I took some time off and kind of took a step back a little bit and let my body recover from all my training that I’ve been spending here at Team Quest the past two years. I’ve been training really hard. I believe I’m a better fighter, better athlete, mentally, physically, and I’ve been training really, really hard for this fight.”
On Lim: “He’s dangerous. He’s tall. He brings other skills to the table than [previously scheduled opponent Jake Ellenberger]. … He’s a good wrestler, good takedowns, heavy hands. Lim is really tall, so I had to [bring in] some tall sparring partners. Good hands also, dangerous knees. I haven’t seen much of his ground game. I had to change my game plan obviously and just train, train, train.”
On whether he might try to wrestle Lim: “Maybe. I don’t know where the fight’s going to go. Obviously I’m more of a striker. I like to exchange and be technical, pick my opponent apart, but I might have to mix it up if I feel uncomfortable. For each and every fight, even though most of my fights stay on the feet, I like to try to engage every area as much as I can -- wrestling, grappling, everything -- so if the fight has to go somewhere else, I’ll be ready for it.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at :54).