The veteran UFC light heavyweight knows his limitations – or rather he was introduced to them by current heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou.
“Seeing him in person, I’m like, that’s a big dude,” Saint Preux said on What the Heck. “Then actually getting to train with him, and he’s like, ‘OK, little brother’ – boom.
“Why did he just make me feel like a little b*tch, like literally threw me? I’m like, cool. Pretty much, I know how to stay in my lane.”
The first time Saint Preux strayed from said lane, he wound up on the losing end of a decision against Ben Rothwell. So when his manager called to inform him his originally scheduled opponent at UFC Vegas 30, Maxim Grishin, had run into visa problems and offered Boser, he needed a day to think about it.
“Well, he’s not one of the bigger heavyweights,” Saint Preux reasoned. “And I told myself I would entertain the heavyweight division if the opportunity presented itself.”
Saint Preux has seen plenty of short-notice challenges. This one was a little bit of a drag because his weight cut had been going so well, and he expected to show the UFC he wasn’t a problem on the scale against Grishin. Before a previous fight with Jamahal Hill, he had gone to the emergency room with a back injury the week beforehand and tapped out at 207.5 pounds before he weighed in. Then he lost a second-round TKO.
This gamble was a more acceptable risk.
“This weight cut [against Grishin] was going to be perfect, and when it happened, I was like, ‘C’mon, man,’” Saint Preux said. “It is what it is. It’s part of my job. It’s not the first time it happened to me. Sometimes it worked out for the best. Sometimes it didn’t.”
The new matchup is good, he figures, because Boser won’t have a big size or speed advantage in the octagon when they meet on Saturday at UFC APEX in Las Vegas. And he likes his chances the longer the fight goes.
“He does have good output for a heavyweight,” Saint Preux said. “But along with that output, cardio comes down tremendously. Watching him against Ilir [Latifi], I know I’ve got to watch out for certain things. He likes to kick. He’s got a heavy right hand. As long as I can watch out for those, I’ve been preparing myself for those types of fights, anyways.”
Saint Preux expects he’ll be between 225 and 230 pounds on fight night. He’ll move like a light heavyweight, and he’ll hit like a heavyweight. Maybe not a Ngannou heavyweight, but at least as a special guest star in the big-man division.
Hang out any longer than that, and he doesn’t like his chances.
“I’m a numbers person,” Saint Preux said. “If you’re a heavyweight, if you throw 20 punches, at least five of them going to land. And it don’t take but one of them to put you out.”