Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight athletes Jon Jones and Ovince St. Preux clashed last night (April 23, 2016) at UFC 197 inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. By this point, everyone knows Jones' situation. Returning from a lengthy layoff and some legal trouble, the former champion and current pound-for-pound great was looking to come back in style.
On the other hand, "OSP" was in the difficult position of the short-notice replacement. Still, it was a major opportunity for St. Preux, and a victory would really shake up the division.
Jones opened up the fight from the Southpaw stance, firing off a few body kicks and measuring his opponent's attacks. In particular, Jones dug into the body with the side kick multiple times, which looked quite powerful.
While St. Preux didn't get battered in the first round, Jones clearly won the opening frame. "Bones" seemed to want to take his time and feel his opponent out, which wasn't the worst idea considering his layoff.
Jones opened up a bit more in the second round. He started with more kicks to the legs and body, and the former champion continued to stalk his opponent around the Octagon.
He also began to work his clinch work, pushing his opponent against the fence and working with elbows. St. Preux did a nice job escaping his back from the fence -- and defending himself in general for that matter -- but he was not active enough.
It was another clear round for Jones.
The third round was really more of the same. It was a slower pace than expected for Jones, but he largely controlled his opponent and battered his foe with his side and oblique kicks. St. Preux landed a few of his own shots, but it was far to infrequent for him to build any momentum or really hurt his opponent.
"Bones" finally switched things up and got aggressive in the fourth round. He really pursued the clinch more frequently and did good work there, smacking his opponent around with elbows and punches from close range.
Then, in the second half of the round, Jones went after his opponent with takedowns. Up against the fence, Jones scored a few double leg takedowns, and this time he was able to advance into a dominant position.
He failed to finish before the bell rang, but Jones put it on his opponent from top position.
After a slower start to the final round, Jones once again returned to his wrestling. He lifted "OSP" into the air pretty effortlessly and slammed him insanely hard with about two minutes remaining.
However, he allowed St. Preux to return to his feet in order to score with a hard kick.
For the rest of the round, Jones continued his slow march towards St. Preux and simply out-struck his opponent without much difficulty. He never pushed hard for the finish either, but Jones did clearly win the entire fight.
This was a strange performance for Jones. He clearly wanted to take his time in his return bout, but Jones never kicked it into gear. Besides a couple minutes in the fourth, Jones seemed rather content with the idea of his opponent lasting to a decision.
While it wasn't the worst thing in the world to shake off more rust, Jones really should've finished his opponent in the championship round. St. Preux was barely doing anything, and Jones' grappling edge was so massive that he definitely could've forced the issue.
It was clearly enough to defeat "OSP," but who knows if it would've been enough to take out Daniel Cormier.
I mentioned the word content, and that's a fair description of St. Preux's attitude in this bout. He allowed his opponent to dictate the pace and range, and St. Preux never really did anything to try and upset the champion.
Against Jon Jones, that's simply never going to be enough to win.
Still, I cannot be too harsh on "OSP." He took a fight on short-notice against one of the best ever, and he didn't get completely overwhelmed. That's an accomplishment on its own.
Last night, Jon Jones picked apart his opponent for a decision victory. Will Jones reclaim his title in his next bout?