“It was a little tough at the beginning. I had to adapt, of course. They were in a competitive rhythm. They were sparring hard all the time. I wasn’t in the best shape; my cardio wasn’t there in the beginning. I was still hanging in there and doing my thing, but I knew the guys were fighting every weekend. They were in better shape. But that changed with time and now I’m good. I’m ready to go. I’m ready to showcase my new skills and abilities in the Octagon.”
He can keep up with the gang now, but it didn’t necessarily make the work any easier.
“Besides the best guys in the world that you see like Michael Chandler and Gilbert Burns and all those guys, there’s a lot of up-and-coming guys that will be in the big leagues soon that are also trouble. No easy rounds. That’s one thing I noticed at Sanford: I got no easy rounds. There are no rounds that I can rest. It doesn’t exist over there.”
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So which parts of his game have improved since we last saw him in the Octagon in 2019?
“Oh my God, everything,” he laughs. “I was so bad back then. I still got a really nice win last time around, but I’ve made a lot of progress. It’s really gotten me to a new phase of my game.”
Puelles enters Saturday on a two-fight win streak, so if his game is as elevated as he believes it is, look for him to start shaking things up amongst the prospects at 155 pounds. Against Jordan Leavitt, he faces an undefeated standout who last knocked out veteran Matt Wiman in a mere 22 seconds.