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LAS VEGAS — Alberta heavyweight Tanner (The Bulldozer) Boser stopped Ovince (OSP) Saint Preux in the second round of the co-main event of a UFC Fight Night card Saturday.
The win snapped a two-fight losing streak for Boser, but it came with some controversy.
After a sluggish first-round showing, Saint Preux tried for a takedown a minute into the second round, eventually getting Boser to the ground after they clinched at the fence. Boser was warned for grabbing the fence with his right hand as he worked his way to his feet, prompting Saint Preux's corner to scream foul.
Replays were unclear whether he had indeed grabbed the fence.
Boser then caught Saint Preux with a knee and, two punches later, felled him with a right to the head. Referee Jason Herzog stepped in to stop the punishment at 2:31 of the round.
Boser (20-8-1) accepted the fight on short notice after Saint Preux's original opponent, Russian Maxim Grishin was unable to compete due to visa issues. Saint Preux (25-16-0) agreed to move up to heavyweight to face Boser, who had requested a quick return to action after a June 5 loss to Sweden's Ilir (The Sledgehammer) Latifi.
"I'm feeling pretty good, what can I say," Boser, a 29-year-old from Bonnyville, Alta., who now calls Edmonton home, said after the bout. "I had to right the ship. I lost a very close decision three weeks ago. I wasn't injured. Of course, I think I won that fight. Of course, my opponent would disagree. That's how it goes in a fight like that.
"But I needed to save the summer."
The main event at the UFC Apex production facility saw France's Cyril (Bon Gamin) Gane, ranked third among heavyweight contenders, win a unanimous (50-45, 50-45, 49-46) decision over No. 5 Alexander (Drago) Volkov of Russia.
Boser weighed in at 240 pounds while Saint Preux was 230. At six foot three and a half inches, Saint Preux had a 1.5-inch height advantage and five-inch reach advantage.
Boser, a mobile heavyweight, was the early aggressor. He came out firing kicks at Saint Preux while mixing jabs and looking to land power shots with his right hand. Saint Preux did little in the first round.
"What are you waiting on? … We gave that round away," Saint Preux's cornerman said after the round.
The 38-year-old Saint Preux, who was coming off a December loss to light-heavyweight Jamahal (Sweet Dreams) Hill, fought as a heavyweight in May 2020 when, after weighing in at 240.5 pounds, he lost a split decision to 265-pound Ben Rothwell.
Saint Preux, a former University of Tennessee football player, has missed the 206-pound light-heavyweight non-title limit in the past.
He made his UFC debut in April 2013 at UFC 159 and is now 13-11-0 in the promotion. He fought for the interim light-heavyweight championship in April 2016, losing to Jon (Bones) Jones at UFC 197.
Against Latifi, Boser was at the wrong end of a 28-29, 29-27, 28-29 split decision despite the fact that Boser had a 45-10 edge in significant strikes, according to UFC Stats.
Boser saw his two-fight win streak snapped in a loss to former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei (The Pit Bull) Arlovski in November. Boser landed 68 of 119 significant strike attempts while Arlovski was good on 34 of 82 attempts. But Arlovski showed more power.
While all three judges scored the fight 29-28 for Arlovski, each awarded Boser a different round. Boser blamed himself afterwards, saying he had been too complacent.
Boser, who raised his UFC record to 4-3-0, is no stranger to short-notice assignments.
In 2019, he beat Daniel Spitz on Oct. 18 and lost to Gane on Dec. 21. And last year he posted wins over Philipe (Monstro) Lins and Raphael (Bebezoa) Pessoa on June 27 and July 25, respectively.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 26, 2021.
The Canadian Press