LAS VEGAS - Tarec Saffiedine looked beat to hell at the end of 15 minutes, but it was only a few Tyler Stinson shots that busted him open.
Much of the fight was waged on the ground with Saffiedine riding Stinson. The judges chose the fighter who maintained top control giving Saffiedine a split decision victory, 28-29, 30-27 and 29-28, in fight No. 1 on the main of the Showtime broadcast of Strikeforce in The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel.
Saffiedine (12-3) was hoping to get one of the slots in an expected title fight for the vacant welterweight belt. He may not have done enough tonight?
He certainly didn't look like a championship contender at the end of the fight. Saffiedine had a cut under his right eye, another over his left eye and one more gash in his hairline.
The 6-foot-1 Stinson got the first round on our scorecard. He dominated the final 90 seconds after blasting Saffiedine with a left elbow. That was the shot that opened the cut under Saffiedine's right eye. The Belgian fighting out Dan Henderson's camp in Temecula, Ca. was on the run the rest of the round.
Saffiedine wisely turned to his grappling in the second and planted Stinson with a takedown with 2:53 left in the round. He did the same in the third round with 4:36 left.
Stinson (21-8) stayed down until referee Steve Mazzagatti put the fight back on the feet with just over a minute left. The stronger striker landed some good shots down the stretch, but it wasn't enough to the steal the final round on 2-of-3 cards.
Saffiedine outlanded Stinson 106-43, that included 78-4 on the ground.