Ovince Saint-Preux (-125)
MMA Record: 22-10
UFC Record: 10-5
Notable Wins: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Corey Anderson, Yushin Okami
Notable Losses: Jon Jones, Glover Teixeira, Jimi Manuwa, Gegard Mousasi, Volkan Oezdemir
Last Fight: Knockout win over Corey Anderson
Fighter Profile: OSP has been a frustrating fighter to watch at times in the UFC, but he seems to have finally turned the corner in his career. A three-fight losing streak to Jones, Oezdemir and Manuwa could have easily been the end of his career but it’s a credit to him that he’s made the improvements necessary to become a title contender once again. He showed he has legit KO power against Anderson in his last fight, which he ended via head kick, and before that showed against Okami and Marcos Rogerio de Lima that he has dangerous submissions, winning both fights via Von Flue choke. I still think defensively he is flawed especially when it comes to the standup, and he could be more aggressive on the feet in his fights, but he’s a very well-rounded light heavyweight and has multiple ways to defeat opponents in the 205 pound division.
Ilir Latifi (-105)
MMA Record: 13-5, 1 NC
UFC Record: 6-3
Notable Wins: Tyson Pedro, Gian Villante
Notable Losses: Ryan Bader, Gegard Mousasi
Last Fight: Unanimous decision win over Tyson Pedro
Fighter Profile: Latifi is a very strong and powerful wrestler. He has big takedown ability and he also has very strong punching power as well. He’s built like a brick house. Since coming into the UFC he has mostly beaten mid-level fighters but lost to elite guys. He’s won his fights with both his takedowns and control and his one-punch KO power. Defensively though he is quite flawed as he eats quite a few strikes in fights that remain standing for too long. He’s been knocked out twice in the UFC, once to the body and once to the chin, so it’s fair to question his durability when he fights fighters with stopping power. He strikes me as more of a gatekeeper than a true contender but he’s carved out a solid career for himself in the UFC for sure.
Fight Breakdown: This is a solid fight on paper. Both men are coming off of wins and in a shallow UFC light heavyweight division, a big win can shoot a fighter right into title contention. OSP is coming off of three-straight finishes and has looked amazing as of late. He looks like he’s turned the corner in her career and has turned into must-see TV. Latifi has been inconsistent throughout his UFC tenure but the one-sided win over Pedro showed he’s still a formidable foe at 205. The X-factor in this matchup to me is OSP’s KO power and Latifi’s inability to take a shot. Latifi has taken quite a bit of damage in the UFC and it can catch up to anyone as we saw against Bader. OSP has a ton of confidence right now, and I see him continuing his march up the ladder by catching Latifi on the chin, and finishing him.
Prediction: Ovince Saint-Preux by KO