The UFC returns to Edmonton this weekend when UFC 240 rolls into the city of champions.
But before Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar light up Rogers Place in a long-awaited main event, up and coming talent will look to set the stage and make a name for themselves.
Both making their UFC debuts, Edmonton’s own Tanner Boser (16-5-1) and Brazil’s Giacomo Lemos (6-0) will kick off the evening’s action in a heavyweight tilt.
Lemos, 30, will be proudly representing one of the most storied martial arts countries on the planet and Boser will be looking to put his country back on the map.
For the 27-year-old Boser, getting the chance to fight for the UFC in his hometown is a dream come true.
“It’s awesome. Fighting at home and being the only fighter on the card from Edmonton is an honour,” said Boser in an interview.
“I’m really proud of it and hopefully I can get the win here and keep moving forward in the UFC and continue to represent Edmonton.”
Although he’s making a step up to the biggest promotion in the world, Boser didn’t stray away from the training regiment that got him where he is, and will look to use that to his advantage come fight night.
“Training camp was exactly the same as usual. What separates me from other heavyweights is my movement and cardio. I’m not a power puncher guy; I have a lot of knockouts and TKO’s, but they’re from accumulation,” said Boser.
“I can keep the pace going at a higher rate than most heavyweights can keep up with. I accumulate strikes and then I finish when it breaks guys down.”
Fighting For Brazil
His opponent, Lemos, decided to become an MMA fighter to leave the stress of his system analytics job. He will represent the country many consider to be the modern birthplace of mixed martial arts, something he’s been waiting to do for a long time.
“It will be very cool to represent my country. I would see Royce Gracie’s UFC fights on my father’s VHS tapes and I always imagined myself fighting there one day,” said Lemos in an interview.
“Besides my country Brazil, I have lots of fans from South Korea where I was able to conquer and defend the belt at AFC (Angels Fighting Championship).”
Lemos feels his strength and cardio sets him apart from other heavyweights in the UFC, as well as being an unpredictable fighter and the ability to be a “chameleon” in the octagon.
However, that doesn’t mean Lemos isn’t aware of Boser’s strengths.
“I know my opponent is a tough guy with a good chin,” said Lemos.
“He will be fighting at home and that helps. Although he’s new to the UFC, he’s quite experienced.”
That experience could be the biggest part of this battle. Lemos is undefeated, but has just six professional fights.
With already 22 professional fights, Boser is extremely confident in his ability to control the octagon.
“I think my experience factors in a lot; six fights isn’t that many fights,” said Boser.
“He’s obviously very good, but you’re still trying to get your rhythm in the cage. I have hours in the cage and I think my experience is going to be a big factor.”
When analyzing Lemos’ fighting style, Boser took notice of his classic Brazilian vale tudo style.
“He stands like a pretty typical muay thai-type fighter. There’s nothing really out of the ordinary that I see,” said Boser.
“He likes to throw a lot of low kicks, he likes to throw a lot of front kicks and I think my low kicks are way better, way faster and way stronger. I should be able to see all of his kicks coming, be able to check them and out-kick him.”
Lemos didn’t offer much information in terms of strategy and he wasn’t looking to make any predictions.
He said the perfect debut fight for him on Saturday is simply getting a win and is excited to be making his first ever trip to Canada.
“It’s nice to know the fight is in his hometown; I am very happy to be able to go there,” said Lemos.
“Even though I’m fighting the guy in his house, I will have fans there. They will be present at the event they’ve already told me.”