We didn’t see a perfect version of Jon ‘Bones’ Jones on Saturday night against Ovince St.Preux by any means. But after all his personal life legal troubles, it was just nice to see him back in the octagon once again.
As a late replacement for the injured Daniel Cormier, Ovince Saint Preux (OSP) had his work cut out for him. On only three weeks notice, would he like to fight arguably the greatest fighter of all time? ‘Like’ is probably the wrong word, but it’s not the kind of opportunity a hungry fighter, ranked no.6 should turn down. Indeed, OSP embraced the challenge, and came out of the affair with a lot of new fans. He did not, however, come out with the W, a situation virtually nobody had predicted.
Indeed, although OSP had his moments in the earlier stages of the fight, it was Jones that always looked in control, always seemed to have the better cardio, and always made sure to attack with far greater volume. OSP, a former linebacker and defensive end at the University of Tennessee, has serious power in his hands (something ex-champ ‘Shogun’ Rua found out in 34 seconds) but wasn’t able to keep up with the diversity of strikes Jones threw, and everyone knew things were well and truly concluded in the 4th round, when OSP appeared to have badly hurt his left hand. By the end of the fight, OSP was entering striking exchanges one-armed, at points even throwing back-fists with his right. This is not how to beat a man like Jon Jones, unfortunately.
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Since the fight, we’ve been informed that OSP actually broke his left arm in the second round, thanks to a Jon Jones kick. This means a few things. First, it means that OSP kept using the arm for quite some time after it happened. Second, it means that OSP is a serious warrior. And finally- it means that even if you do block a Jon Jones body or head kick, the kick can be highly detrimental.
So with all the above information, you might be inclined to say ‘Well it sounds like Jones wrecked this guy, how was he rusty?’ To answer that, you have to understand just how good Jones is. This is a man who has beaten some absolutely terrifying light-heavyweights without barely getting hurt. This is a man who is reported to have not even bothered training for his closest fight, the famous 2013 war with Alex Gustafsson. And finally, this is the only man to have a victory over current champ Daniel ‘DC’ Cormier.
Jones said it best himself after the fight. He was typically candid in the post-fight interview, admitting that instead of “reacting” to OSP’s actions, he found himself “watching”. He was a little gun-shy. He most certainly did enough to win each round, but he looked a little less explosive, a little less dynamic, and a little mentally unsure. He took some hard shots from OSP, which surprised me. His striking defence is usually smarter, but there were rare moments where he looked somewhat plodding inside the octagon.
The UFC took an interesting approach to this fight’s audio, and had the injured champ DC join Joe Rogan cage side to comment. With Jones winning, he is now the interim champion, and will at some stage fight DC for the real belt. DC was equally as candid, declaring that “if this is the new Jon Jones, there’s no way that guy can beat me.” He later went on to suggest that he will soon be cleared by doctors to train again, and will be prepared for UFC 200, ensuring that the UFC may well have a main event fight for the card, given the unclear situation regarding Conor McGregor.
Cormier is right to poke holes at Jones’ performance, and he will get back training with confidence. But the reality is this: Jones was away for over a year – some ring rust is understandable. When he meets DC in the octagon, there will be no rust. Cormier had better bring his perfect self that night, because he’ll need all the help he can get.