With Injured Hand on the Mend, Bossé Looking to Resume UFC Quest at Instinct 4
As he sent UFC vet Houston Alexander crashing to the mat unconscious at Instinct MMA 1, sixteen frustrating months came to a sudden and triumphant end for Steve Bossé. The violent knockout not only allowed Quebec’s top non-UFC draw to put the delays of failed promotions and contract squabbles behind him, it was a chance to show off the improved skills he’d developed since his last fight.
“Houston was a brawler, kind of like an older, American version of me,” Bossé said Saturday, speaking after hosting his gym’s first amateur event. “I really thought I was going to go to a decision with him, but I was pleased with that ending.”
Up against his toughest test to date, the 30 year-old Light-Heavyweight repeatedly employed his heavy hand to batter his more experienced opponent’s face. His progress as a grappler was also on display, with takedowns utilized to open Alexander up for ground-and-pound.
The Boss’s pleasure at being back in the cage last October was tempered however by the sense something was wrong as the opening round wore on. “I’m not sure which punch it was, but I lost use of my right hand,” he said.
No matter insisted the 9-1 Bossé, who neglected to mention the injury to his coach between rounds. “I didn’t panic – I just worked him with my left. In the end, I figure I’d just go for it so I threw the right elbow, and boom! he went down.”
Combat survival comes naturally to Bossé, who punched his way through over 200 fisticuffs as a professional minor league hockey goon prior to his 2007 MMA debut.
In the heat of the moment, referee Philippe Chartier was forced to restrain him, as he seemed intent on inflicting more damage to his downed opponent. With a few months’ hindsight, Bossé sounded a note of regret and chalked his action up to Alexander’s pre-fight trash talking, and the surge of adrenaline that comes with being in the cage.
After the familiar euphoria of main event victory, Bossé’s focus quickly turned to his injury. “I fought Friday, had x-rays done Saturday, and by Sunday I was already on the operating table,” he said. “I dislocated the second and third metacarpal of my right hand. The ligaments tore, so everything had to be put back in place, and then I had my hand stapled. It’s a longer recovery period than a fracture, but it’s an injury that you can recover from one hundred per cent.”
The surgery was the second time Bossé has had his right hand operated on, though he remembers breaking it an additional time or two back in his years on the ice. The possibility of having his career and UFC ambitions dashed by his hands not holding up is something he says he doesn’t think about, preferring to take things one day and one step at a time. He’s begun striking again, despite some expected soreness.
His focus is now on his return to action on May 5 in Montreal, where he’ll headline Instinct MMA 4. The event is rumoured to be Instinct’s debut at the Bell Centre, home to the Canadiens hockey franchise. For Bossé it would be familiar territory, the arena where he twice headlined TKO Major League MMA cards in 2007 and 2008 for Instinct’s president Stephane Patry, memories he describes as his fondest.
Though an opponent for Bossé has yet to be officially announced, speaking on Saturday, Bossé’s manager Gary Chartrand stated his fighter had signed a contract with Instinct to face UFC/Strikeforce vet Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral. The bout would be the first on his current three-fight agreement with the promotion.
Patry has since denied to Top MMA News that the bout was in the works, and Chartrand subsequently retracted his statement, claiming he’d been misinformed. Sobral’s management opted not to comment when replying to an inquiry about the fight, though they also did not offer a denial. [UPDATE (Feb 16): Instinct MMA has officially announced the bout.]
For his part, Bossé seemed enthused by what a potential bout with the former Strikeforce Light-Heavyweight champion could mean for him. “It’s a very interesting match-up – a UFC vet who’s fought big names like Fedor and Shogun. I have nothing to lose against a guy like that. I feel like I have everything to gain – a big win against him and I end up a lot closer to the UFC.
Figuring he’s one or two wins away from a call up, Bossé is optimistic, despite the pay cut he’ll likely take moving from Quebec’s top ticket seller to just another UFC prospect. His Instinct contract allows him to fight in the UFC if offered the chance, according to his manager.
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Sobral could prove a difficult challenge for Bossé, best known for delivering knockouts. “No question, Babalu is an ace on the mat, and I’ll really have to work my jiu-jitsu. But I feel like I have black belt in striking, and I’ll work to use that without falling into his game plan.”
The 36-9 Sobral, an MMA veteran of nearly 15 years, hasn’t fought since being knocked out by Dan Henderson in December 2010. He is scheduled to face heavy-handed Dutchman Melvin Manhoef on March 31 in Singapore for the One FC promotion, prior to the potential Instinct match-up.
The long talked of Quebec super-fight with Martin Desilets is of less interest to Bossé. “I’m not sure what I’d have to gain at this point beating a guy like him,” he said.
Both Chartrand and Patry have also mentioned interest in matching Bossé with another UFC vet – Keith Jardine. Among other things, the fight would be dependent on a release from Strikeforce, where the ‘Dean of Mean’ last fought unsuccessfully for the 185 pound title.
Middleweight is a division Patry has spoken of Bossé moving down to, though the fighter says his next bout is too soon. “I’ll get there one day, but for now with the injury, the recovery, the return to training, plus having to diet and drop extra weight, it feels like too much,” he said. Standing six feet tall, Bosse walks around normally at 215 pounds.
At the end of the day, the injuries, potential weight drops, and contract negotiations all seem like white noise for Bossé, a man who loves nothing more than fighting for the public’s appreciation. “I feed off that,” he said. “I love putting on a show and I’m going to keep doing it as along as it’s possible. I know I’ll make it to the UFC, but for now I’m focused on Instinct. The promotion has built itself around me, and I’m happy with that.”