UFC 197 Date: April 23, 2016 Location: Las Vegas, Nevada Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena Broadcast: PPV UFC Light Heavyweight Jon Jones One of the top pound-for-pound MMA fighters on the planet, Jon ”Bones” Jones (20-1) has dominated the light heavyweight scene, becoming the youngest UFC title holder ever early in 2011 at the age of 23. With an insane reach advantage, an awkward and unorthodox striking style, a solid wrestling base and submissions from anywhere in the cage, “Bones” is a horrifyingly-hard matchup for any light heavyweight out there. The lone blemish on his record came from a DQ loss to Matt Hamill for 12-6 elbows even though he was clearly in line for another lopsided victory, so he’s basically undefeated. After being blamed for the cancellation fiasco of UFC 151, Jones bounced back from an early armbar submission attempt to submit Vitor Belfort at UFC 152 and tie Chuck Liddell’s light heavyweight title defense record. His next gig was to serve as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter 17 against Chael Sonnen who supposedly was the only one to challenge Bones in the wake of the UFC 151 cancellation. This was another decisive win, as he destroyed Sonnen by TKO in the first round. Jones didn’t come out of that fight unscathed, however. His big toe literally popped off and dangled by a skin flap, and he took some time off. After mending his toe, Jones took on Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165. The fight was highly touted as a physically equal matchup where Bones wouldn’t be hulking over his opponent, and Gustafsson proved that breakdown to be dead on, as Jones struggled to get takedowns and took more damage than he ever had before in an MMA match. In the end, Jones won a unanimous decision, and he then fought Glover Teixeira at UFC 172, beating him by decision. Most recently, he battled bitter rival Daniel Cormier in January of 2015, where Jones won a hard-fought unanimous decision. Jones was stripped of his title following a felony hit and run in the spring of 2015 and was reinstated to the UFC about nine months later. He’ll battle Ovince Saint Preux for the UFC interim title nearly a year after being stripped of his belt. UFC Light Heavyweight Ovince Saint Preux An athletic specimen and former Tennessee Volunteer football player, Ovince St-Preux (18-6) had a great start to his UFC career, winning his first four in the Octagon with three finishes. He is just 32 years old and seems to be improving every fight, as he’s racked up a 7-2 record in the UFC with five stoppages and his only losses coming to top contenders Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira. With a solid wrestling base to go along with some power on the feet and an underrated submission game, St-Preux is quickly emerging as a dark horse at 205lbs. If he can keeps making strides in his game, who knows, the sky may be the limit for the man nicknamed OSP. He has feasted on mid-tier competition so far, and lost when he stepped up in competition against Bader and Teixeira, but he holds a quick knockout win over former champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and has the ability to surprise anyone. He has the biggest opportunity of his career as he’ll be taking on another former champion in Jon “Bones” Jones as an injury replacement for Daniel Cormier in the main event of UFC 197 later this month. Opening UFC 197 Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas made Jones a -675 favorite (bet $675 to win $100) while Saint Preux opened as a +450 underdog (bet $100 to win $450) at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Kalikas had the following to say about the match-up via ESPN:
“Ovince Saint Preux is one of the better rising contenders in the UFC light heavyweight division, but he’s biting off more than he can chew here. You have to give credit to OSP for taking on Jon Jones in the UFC 197 main event on three week’s notice for the interim title, but his typical advantages disappear against Jones. Saint Preux will not have a reach advantage against Jones, he won’t be able to muscle him around and Jones has proven to be as durable as any opponent Saint Preux has ever fought. Jones will be better than OSP everywhere except perhaps one-punch power so I’ll have to open Jones as a heavy -675 betting favorite despite the fact that he hasn’t fought in 15 months.”
I’ll add my own two cents as well. Saint Preux is a dangerous fighter, but his biggest strength (punching power) is countered by Jones’ excellent chin. Saint Preux has a tendency to slow down in fights and he’s been susceptible to submissions against fighters who can wear him down and that seems exactly like the type of thing Jones will be looking to do. I expect Jon Jones to make a statement in this fight since he’s been out of action for so long and is eager to get back to work as the most feared man in the sport.
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