Photo by Esther Lin via allelbows.com
It appears that the grooming period was over for hot Strikeforce prospect Ovince St. Preux last night (December 17, 2011) when he went from battling foes on the Challengers series to taking on former champion and top light heavyweight Gegard Mousasi on the main card of Strikeforce: "Melendez vs. Masvidal" in San Diego.
While some felt OSP's strength and athleticism would perhaps make up for his severe skill and technique disadvantage, the result was not difficult to predict.
He simply was out of his element against a sharper, more experienced foe, although he did survive all fifteen minutes in what was by far the toughest test of his young career.
So what were the key factors that prevented St. Preux from pulling off the upset? And what's on the horizon for both men?
St. Preux looked very tentative early, hoping to keep his distance while Mousasi stalked him and was hoping to find the proper distance and hurt him. It appeared that Mousasi had gauged the distance properly and was finding a home for his strikes and then he pulled off a surprise by showcasing some of his offensive grappling ability.
When St. Preux tried to get takedowns, it was Mousasi who took top position. His judo background appeared to be a major factor as he kept his balance and remained above OSP.
If there was anything to criticize above else in this fight, it was the referee. The guy repeatedly said, "Improve your position or I'll stand you up," about 20 times. He had no awareness of good position on the ground as he repeatedly said this even when fighters were in side control, actually standing up Mousasi when he was in side control and actively punching OSP in the face.
He even played a key part in this fight by loudly demanding OSP improve his position despite the fact that was looking for a submission or a way to advance already and this forced him to be more aggressive than he needed to be and he got swept. That's embarrassing and completely uncalled for. I hope fans complain about him to the commission and he never referees another bout again.
As the fight wore on, OSP gained some confidence and actually had some decent positions in top control, but Mousasi tied him up on the ground and he either was too concerned about losing his position to throw ground and pound or he couldn't find an opening. Mousasi easily took a unanimous decision, although it wasn't as dominant as one would have expected with the severe skill disparity.
For Ovince St. Preux, if it wasn't obvious before, he still has some work to do before he's ready to take on the elite light heavyweights on the Strikeforce roster. He's got plenty of athletic ability and talent, but he simply has to shore up his technique. He's still got a bright future in my opinion, but they need to take it a little slower with him. He's not ready for the Feijao, Lawal or Mousasi. Just keep building him and he'll be able to continue to grow.
I'd like to see him against Ranatu Sabral if Strikeforce is willing resign him. That would be the perfect test for him at this point in his career.
For Gegard Mousasi, he proved he's a terrific fighter, but he just doesn't push himself enough. He's got all the talent and skill in the world, it's time for him to harness it if he wants to take it to the next level. The commentators talked about him improving his wrestling, but OSP is not even close to the level of a Muhammed Lawal or a Rashad Evans or a Jon Jones. Hopefully he can get motivated and harness the incredible talent that he has. He's still young and he's got room to grow.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Was this simply a case of too much, too soon for Ovince St. Preux? Do you agree that Mousasi could have and should have been more dominant in that fight?