UFC 197 Breakdown: Jon Jones vs Ovince Saint Preux

UFC-159Prior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at Saturday’s night main event as Jon Jones returns to the octagon to face Ovince St. Preux for the light heavyweight interim title.   Jon Jones (Record: 21-1, -650 Favorite, Fighter Grade: A++) The 28-year old Rochester, NY native is the consensus number one mixed martial artist in the world. In 22 fights, his hand has been raised in all but one of those matches. The lone time it wasn’t raised was due to a disqualification in a fight he was winning decisively. Jones returns to action for the first time since January 2015 when he defeated Daniel Cormier. Multiple issues outside the cage have sidelined Jones for an extended period of time. It’s the longest layoff of Jones career. The Jackson’s MMA product is the top fighter in the world for many reasons. To start, physically he’s very gifted in that his 84.5” inch reach is right near the top of the sport. Jones uses his length very well. He lands a whopping 2.26 significant strikes a minute more than he absorbs. That puts him right near the top of the UFC in that regard. He combines that with 94% takedown defense. Jones is difficult to hit and difficult to take to the mat. He combines that defensive prowess a creativity striking game using a lot of unorthodox kicks. On the ground, Jones has as brutal of ground and pound as anyone in MMA. He delivers vicious elbows in top control and is capable of finishing in any fight from that position. If there’s any weakness in Jones game it’s lack of big time power. With that said, he’s put on significant muscle in his absence from the sport which should add more pop to his punches.   Ovince St. Preux (Record: 19-7, +475 Underdog, Fighter Grade: B) The Miami-born St. Preux was a three sport athlete in high school who headed to the University of Tennessee on a football scholarship. In 2008, like Jones, he began competing professionally in MMA having a solid career in Strikeforce prior to the UFC absorbing the organization a few years ago. St. Preux enters this bout on the back of a dominant decision win over Rafael Cavalcante in February 2016. St. Preux is very much an athlete turned fighter. His experience in other sports occurred much earlier in life prior to turning to MMA. He’s long for the weight class at 6’3” with an 80 inch reach. He’s an awkward striker and causes a lot of fighters issues due to his rather unorthodox striking. In addition to his striking game, he’s got a good submission game from top control. His von flue choke is very good and he will look for it even with little opportunity. Where St. Preux is vulnerable is when put on his back. His conditioning is not the best and he tends to slow down significantly as fights progress. He hasn’t shown much of answer when an opponent is able to score takedowns and force St. Preux to work off his back.   Match-up This is a gigantic step up in competition for St. Preux as he looks to beat the best fighter on the planet.  The Tennessee native’s best opportunity is to use his reach and land a bomb with his left hand early in the fight and finish Jones. It will be very hard to do that as I expect Jones to be cautious in the early moments of the bout as he feels out his opponent. Jones is synonymous for controlled starts until he figures out his opponent and dominates the later portions of the fight. Look for Jones to work his way inside on St. Preux and taking the bout to the ground where he has a massive advantage in top control. Once Jones is able to land an elbow or two from top, all sorts of opportunities will open and he’ll be able to finish the fight with either strikes or a submission. Despite Jones coming off a long layoff, his improved training regimen and strength make me believe that he won’t skip much of a beat in this fight and get a decisive win.

Written by Jay Primetown

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