Fights “for 400 euros in a cage”: how Frenchman Benoît Saint Denis started MMA

Considered one of the future stars of MMA, Frenchman Benoit Saint Denis started at the bottom of the ladder.

Fights “for 400 euros in a cage”: how Frenchman Benoît Saint Denis started MMA

Considered one of the future stars of MMA, Frenchman Benoit Saint Denis started at the bottom of the ladder.

Combat sports fans, the name Benoît Saint-Denis has certainly become very familiar to you. And even if you are not particularly a fan, you have certainly heard of his exploits in recent weeks in the UFC, the American professional MMA league, the mixed martial arts that has been booming in recent years.

The Frenchman will compete in a match that could make him a legend on March 9, against the American Justin Poirier, during the co-main event of UFC 299. If successful, the Frenchman could join the top 3 in the UFC lightweight category, today dominated by Islam Makhachev, and contending for a world championship match to obtain the belt.

But before being a headliner, Benoît Saint Denis had to work hard, very hard. By the age of 18, the young man was in the military, touring the planet on various missions. Benoît Saint Denis then joined the army special forces in the 1st RPIMA (parachute regiment based in Bayonne). For five years, he learned valuable combat techniques. Present in Mali to fight jihadists, he notably took part in sensitive missions, such as "guarding President Hollande in Mali carried out by the group in the fight against terrorism in the sub-Saharan strip", as he was able to explain on RMC .

But Benoît Saint Denis ended this military career because of "the passion for combat sports via ground wrestling". When he left the army in 2019, his goal was clear: “to become the first French UFC champion”. And to achieve this, he had to overcome a few obstacles to try to make a name for himself in a ruthless environment that leaves no room for doubt.

5 years ago, Benoît Saint Denis preferred to “go and fight for 400 euros in a cage in Switzerland” rather than go back to the special forces. A successful bet because he made a name for himself by fighting in Belgium, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden and Bahrain. A sequence which allowed him to be spotted by the UFC and to negotiate a check for several tens of thousands of euros per fight. In addition to his fixed salary, Benoît Saint Denis also pocketed some bonuses in the UFC, in particular thanks to his submissions or his spectacular knockouts, which earned him bonuses of several tens of thousands of euros.

Benoît Saint Denis is, as you have understood, a real war machine. Over his last four nights in the UFC, the fighter remains on two victories by submission and two victories by TKO. “There is not a single guy under 70 kg who does three times five minutes with me. And I will prove it to you step by step,” he said at the time of UFC Paris and his victory against Brazilian Thiago Moises.

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