Daniel Cormier is out and Ovince Saint Preux is in after Cormier sustained an injury in training camp to defend his light heavyweight strap in a rematch with Jon Jones. Let’s break this bout down and cash in our UFC picks on April 23rd.
Ovince Saint Preux (19-7, 9 KO’s, 5 Subs)
Describing Ovince Saint Preux as an athlete might be an understatement. The Miami native of Haitian descent compiled a 26-1 record as a high school wrestler, was named All-State in track and played football for the Tennessee Volunteers before he even began training in mixed martial arts. The man is a machine and his evolution as an elite MMA fighter is evidenced by his 7-2 record since joining the UFC, particularly when one considers he began his career back in 2008 by losing his first two matches.
Over the course of his last four outings Saint Preux TKO’ed the legendary Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, knocked out Patrick Cummins, was submitted in the third round by top contender Glover Teixeira and bounced back with a unanimous decision over Rafael Cavalcante in February. The man known as OSP has a vast arsenal of skills and is not limited to simply standing and trading. His submissions run the gamut from kimura to Von Flue choke to calf slicer. If an opportunity presents itself he has the chops to exploit it despite being a relative newcomer to BJJ with only a blue belt in the discipline.
Jon Jones (21-1, 9 KO’s, 6 Subs)
Jon Jones has been a bad boy and he has paid for his transgressions by having his UFC light heavyweight title stripped coupled with a few trips to jail in between. We often wonder why professional athletes gifted with preternatural skills do their best to throw it all away. But perhaps it is the internal drive, the maniacal pursuit of perfection that they channel in battle that drives them to distraction in real life. That philosophical debate must wait for another day as our sole purpose here is to find the right side to include in our UFC picks come April 23rd in Sin City.
I never cease to be amazed by the boldly confident and self-assured opinions of some of my colleagues as well as the legion of Jones’ haters that such-and-such an opponent will waste, destroy, pound, or new to the vernacular - “murk”, the former champ. I ask you what has Jones ever done inside the Octagon that would lead someone to believe he hasn’t done enough to instill supreme confidence that he is indeed not only the best fighter at 205 but pound-for-pound the best fighter on the planet? Even his one loss was a controversial disqualification that had his opponent Matt Hamill battered, bloody and beaten before Jones executed the infamous, and outlawed, midnight-to-six elbow strikes upon Hamill’s previously pulverized face and head.
Jones has had one brush with possible defeat and that came on September 21, 2013 when Alexander Gustafsson took Jones to the deep water by going five legendary rounds that resulted in a unanimous decision for Jones and a Fight of the Year for both. Outside of that Jones has dominated and vanquished any and all whom he has faced inside the Octagon. He is Mike Tyson in his prime, a destroyer of men and currently the baddest man on the planet as Tyson was fond of saying. I have never witnessed a more menacing fighter and that includes Anderson Silva in his prime.
At 6’4 and owning a reach of 85 inches Jon Jones is the total package who can KO the knockout artists and submit the mat masters. Let’s be clear that Ovince Saint Preux is not in his league with losses to men like Glover Teixeira, whom Jones dominated for five rounds, and Ryan Bader whom Jones submitted. The only question here is what toll has Jones’ criminal escapades taken if any?
Jones relinquished his title not by losing inside the cage but by being a loser outside of it. Will his 15 months of inactivity coupled with all the drama be his downfall? That is the only chance OSP has of winning this fight yet anything can happen - just ask Ronda Rousey. But we don’t think it will and when the UFC odds are finally announced we will be there to lay the lumber and bet Jones.