Ovince Saint Preux has stepped up for UFC 197, so it looks like the show will go on with Jon Jones somewhere at the top of the card — presumably still the main event.
Despite the lack of marquee value in the new opponent, Jones has been out due to his legal travails for quite some time. In fact, he has not fought in the octagon since January 3, 2015, when he handed Daniel Cormier a unanimous decision loss at UFC 182.
The pair were set for a rematch but Cormier’s injury forced the company to find a new opponent, and Ovince Saint Preux was the guy who answered the call.
So what chance does he have against “Bones”? A look through his professional record would indicate “slim.” He holds a record of 19-7 and has lost two of his last five fights — one to a rear-naked choke via Glover Teixeira, and another to unanimous decision via Ryan Bader.
That said, he has also tore off a string of wins with a few recognizable names on the list — Mauricio “Shogun” Rua being at the top. He won that fight via a Round 1 TKO, so there is precedent that Ovince Saint Preux can be a dangerous puncher.
Still, it is pretty clear from the list of opponents that he hasn’t seen anything like Jon Jones — at least, not Jon Jones in his prime.
What he does have working in his favor is this: by the time April 23 gets here, “Bones” will have been off for a full 15 months.
That isn’t usually an ideal situation for a fighter no matter how good they are. One look at the digression of former UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez tells that story.
When Velasquez fought often, he appeared invincible, but when he had two major layoffs due to injury, he followed those up with lopsided defeats at the hands of Junior dos Santos and current champ Fabricio Werdum.
This is what Ovince Saint Preux needs to capitalize on if he hopes to make history, and there is some recent momentum in favor of the underdog in UFC. With the defeats of Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, and Connor McGregor, there is a general feeling that anything can happen.
Ovince Saint Preux will need to ride this energy as he trains for this fight in the next three weeks. He has the added motivation of vying for the UFC Light Heavyweight title, so he’s really in a situation where there is nothing to lose and everything to gain, while it is quite the opposite for Jones.
This lessening of pressure could certainly work in his favor. He has been fighting as an underdog for most of his career, losing his first two professional fights before winning his next three and getting above .500.
That, however, was followed by another two losses before returning to the W column with an eight-fight winning streak that wasn’t broken until he faced Gegard Mousasi on a 2011 Strikeforce card. Mousasi captured a unanimous decision in that meeting, which would set up another five-fight streak that included victories against T.J. Cook, Gian Villante, Cody Donovan, Nikita Krylov, and Ryan Jimmo.
Then, Bader happened.
But another thing that’s working in favor of the challenger is that he has never in his career come back from a loss with an isolated victory. If Jones beats him at UFC 197, that would change, but if the pattern holds true, then he could be taking home the strap.
But what do you think, readers?
Does Ovince Saint Preux have a good chance at unseating Jon Jones from the top of the light heavyweight division? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image via Ovince Saint Preux Facebook]