This Saturday, April 23, Jon Jones returns to take on Ovince Saint Preux in Las Vegas in a five round fight for the UFC Light Heavyweight Interim Title.
Jon Jones(#1 LHW, 21w-1-0) is a heavy favorite as he makes his return from a 15 month layoff, while Saint Preux (#6 LHW, 19-7-0) comes in with 3 week notice to try and upset the former champion.
Saint Preux +445
This fight had lots of momentum behind it from the start. After Jon Jones was forced to vacate his title due to “complications” outside the cage, Daniel Cormier stepped in and won the vacated belt by defeating Anthony “Rumble” Johnson in May of 2015. He then defended the belt against Alexander Gustafsson in a close fought split decision win in October. Daniel Cormier’s only career loss was to Jones, and he was looking to avenge it…. until he got injured. Now DC is out with an injured foot, and Ovince Saint Preux has come to the rescue filling in on short notice, which may add even more excitement.
Jon Jones is quite possibly the greatest fighter of all time, depending on who you ask. Anderson Silva and George St. Pierre and the only other fighters to hold such dominance over their division. Jon Jones’s only loss comes from a disqualification against Matt Hamill for throwing illegal elbows. So, basically Jones has not lost to an opponent inside the octagon, and has only come close to losing once against Alexander Gustaffson.
Ovince Saint Preux has flown a little under the radar since entering the UFC in 2013. After dispatching Shogun Rua and Patrick Cummins via first round knockouts, people began to take notice. His most recent fight was against Rafael Cavalcante which he won by unanimous decision. Ovince Saint Preux began his amateur career in 2008, then fought for Strikeforce from 2010 to 2012 before moving to the UFC. He has had up and down success in the cage, with his only UFC losses coming to veterans Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira.
Jon Jones is an expert level striker. Unorthodox, unpredictable, and supremely confident; Jon Jones’s bread and butter is his striking. His use of range and distance, coupled with his substantial reach allow him to control the action and attack at will. Jon Jones is not known for one punch knockout power, but rather is able to wear his opponents down with consistent pressure and creative striking. If Jon Jones is focused and prepared, it is likely he will outclass Saint Preux in the striking department.
Ovince Saint Preux has knockout power. What he lacks in technique, he makes up in raw power. Highlight reels show him winging punches from the hips with full power. OSP’s standup seems to be that a good offense is a good defense. This kind of approach may play into the hands of an experienced and smooth striker like Jon Jones.
If Saint Preux can connect, he can possibly put Jones away, but that’s a big if.
Striking Edge: Jones
Jon Jones has trained since the beginning of his career at Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque,NM, one of the top MMA gyms in the world. Jones has amassed dominant wins over wrestlers and BJJ Black Belts alike. He holds submission victories over former champions Lyoto Machida, Rampage Jackson, and Vitor Belfort and was able to control the ground game in his most recent fight with former Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier. Jon Jones is several levels above OSP in the grappling department.
Ovince Saint Preux trains at Knoxville Martial Arts Academy in Tennessee and holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He has demonstrated dominant ground and pound in previous fights, and has won some fights via submission. Saint Preux has a background in wrestling and College football as well prior to his MMA career. Saint Preux’s losses to Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira, two fighters that Jon Jones has dominated in the past, lead me to believe that OSP’s grappling will not be an issue for Jones.
Grappling Advantage: Jones
While we haven’t seen Jon Jones tested often, two times that come to mind are obviously his war with Alexander Gustaffson and his victory over Vitor Belfort. Belfort had Jon Jones in a full armbar and had popped the elbow and Jones was able to power through and get the victory.
Jon Jones has never showed signs of breaking in any of his fights, but this time he’s coming back to the fight game after a 15 month layoff with lots of controversy behind it. If there was ever a time when he had a chink in his armor this is it. Ring rust after such a layoff coupled with the pressure of returning and reclaiming his vacated title may weigh on his performance.
Ovince Saint Preux is an explosive fighter, and explosive fighters tend to gas themselves out. OSP looked to be a bit winded by the second round of his fight with Glover Teixeira after being dominated on the ground. If the fight goes into later rounds I expect OSP to be the first to tire
Overall Jones should win this one on paper anyway. The wild hands and explosiveness of OSP may have success against the crafty ranginess of Jones, and with the odds this way you might as well bet on it.
I’m playing the odds and picking Saint Preux to knock out Jon Jones in Round 1. ( It’s a longshot for sure, but sometimes you should bet on the underdog, especially when he’s +445.