He is back. Barely more than two months after his resounding victory at UFC Paris against Brazilian Thiago Moises, Benoît Saint Denis will enter the cage. Opposed to the American Matt Frevola, who will be at home in Madison Square in New York, the French fighter could land in the top 15 of less than 70 kg in the event of victory. The royal road to obtaining the belt.
His last fight, on September 2 at UFC Paris, left a lasting impression in the world of MMA. Benoît Saint-Denis did not do well, winning by technical knockout after having dominated all the rounds. At the end of the fight, he already displayed his ambitions in front of a melting French public: “I’m going to get the under 70 kg belt”! Speech he had already given after his victory against Ismaël Bonfim last July. His message was simple: “I am undefeated, and I want to get to Islam Makhachev (number one in his category) as quickly as possible.”
Asked about the French fighter by RMC Sport, Makhachev, holder of the belt, spoke of a “tough guy. I think he will do well, he has potential. He has good techniques.” Before tempering: “In the top 10, top 15, the guys will be able to counter his technique.” The fact remains that by beating Moises and Bonfim, the two “gate-keepers” who must be defeated to reach the top level, the “god of war” has given himself the right to pursue his dream.
Dana White, boss of the most powerful MMA organization, can only agree: the UFC is not just a single fight, but a show over several weeks. The fights are the end point of a confrontation which generally begins as soon as the event is announced, via social networks. The weigh-in is also an opportunity for fighters to put themselves on display, like Conor McGregor who had become a master of the discipline.
To be a good fighter, it's not enough to be good in the cage: you have to be able to sell tickets. To do this, you must either be an expert in “trash talking”, this art of verbal provocation, or have a story that is interesting for the general public. And Benoît Saint Denis, the new darling of the UFC, is a character apart.
Cultivating an image of a frightening boor, with his beard and his black gaze, he entered the UFC Paris accompanied by the military song Les commandos. The Teutonic cross tattooed on his chest does not spoil the portrait of the former special forces man, nor do the numerous videos of him with his gun in his hand circulating on social networks. He has become a popular fighter, on whom Dana White and the UFC authorities seem ready to bet. The fight, which took place on November 11, armistice day of the First World War, will only support his image as a patriot. We can't wait to witness his entry into the legendary venue that is Maddison Square Garden, opening a card full of fantastic fights.
If Benoît Saint Denis proclaims his desire to be able to fight for the under 70 kg belt, he cannot skip the steps. He fights in the most competitive category. That of the now retired monster Khabib Nurmagomedov, the Irish star Conor McGregor, and the many Dagestani fighters renowned for their wrestling skills, such as Islam Makhachev. The very serious clients Charles Oliveira or Justin Gaethje are all reasons to think that the under-70 belt is a very ambitious objective at best, and completely illusory at worst.
Either way, the former soldier is on the right track. In the event of victory on Sunday morning (his fight is scheduled for around 4:30 a.m. French time), he would become the first Frenchman to enter the top 15 of the most difficult category in the UFC. In front of the American public, a victory would allow him to claim a fight against a member of the Top 10, and to get closer to his goal. By establishing himself in America, Benoît Saint Denis will be able to continue to believe in the French dream.