Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight hitters Ovince Saint Preux and Dominick Reyes will square off this Saturday (Oct. 6, 2018) at UFC 229 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Is Saint Preux ever likely to contend again? Given the ups-and-downs of his career and key losses, it’s probably not likely. However, the 35-year-old combatant has been quite active, especially for a big man. As a result, he has still managed to build a very successful career inside the Octagon, even if his title dreams haven’t exactly come true. Standing opposite “OSP” will be Reyes, likely the 205-pound division’s brightest prospect. Reyes’ first two opponents were dispatched with complete ease, so UFC offered him a step up in competition against Jared Cannonier. Reyes handled him like the others, so now “Devastator” will attempt to take on the Top 10.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Ovince Saint Preux
Key Wins: Mauricio Rua (UFC Fight Night 56), Corey Anderson (UFC 217), Tyson Pedro (UFC Fight Night 132), Patrick Cummins (UFC on FOX 15)
Key Losses: Ilir Latifi (UFC on FOX 28), Jimi Manuwa (UFC 204), Volkan Oezdemir (UFC Fight Night 104), Glover Teixeira (UFC Fight Night 73)
Keys to Victory: Saint Preux is a big, athletic veteran with considerable power in his hands and feet. His wrestling is inconsistent, but Saint Preux’s ability to pluck a random submission out of the air is otherworldly.
For the second time in a row, “OSP” faces a very dangerous up-and-comer. Pedro walked him down quickly and battered him badly, but Pedro’s inexperience allowed him to turn the tide and gain top position when Pedro looked for the takedown. Unlike Pedro, Reyes is a proven finisher on the feet, meaning Saint Preux cannot afford any slow start.
Given the fact that both men are Southpaws, their usual left kick/left hand double threats won’t be nearly as effective. Instead, which ever man can control the jab will have a huge advantage. Saint Preux has an 80-inch reach, so that’s a technique I’d really like to see him commit to opposite Reyes. In addition, some takedown attempts would be wise. Reyes was able to scramble up almost immediately when Jeremy Kimball put him on his butt, but “OSP” is definitely the biggest and best athlete Reyes has faced, which significantly affects top control.
Key Wins: Jared Cannonier (UFC Fight Night 132), Joachim Christensen (UFC Fight Night 112), Jeremy Kimball (UFC 218), Jordan Powell (LFA 13)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Reyes fights like he has somewhere important to be. Like Saint Preux, Reyes is a large 205-pounder with very obvious athletic gifts. However, despite being just four years into his professional career, Reyes already fights like a complete and experienced fighter.
He’s only been outside the first round once.
Saint Preux’s biggest issue for a long time has been that his hands are not great. He can definitely club people with his left, but when Ilir Latifi is a foot shorter and still able to box him up, there’s a definite problem. There are other examples as well — such as when Jimi Manuwa picked him apart. With both of their usual kickboxing strategies out the window, Reyes should still be looking to close distance early and make this a boxing match. He likely has the advantage there, and even if he doesn’t, “OSP” has been tagged early by lesser strikers and definitely has more miles on him than Reyes.
Bottom Line: It’s a great veteran vs. prospect battle.
As mentioned, Saint Preux has a number of losses that keep him fairly far from the title. As such, he’ll need a multiple fight win streak to break free from his current position. Winning four of his last five is a start — even if that Latifi loss hurts — and dispatching another major prospect is definitely a big step forward. If he’s lucky, it could be enough to get another chance at a Top 5-ranked foe.
Meanwhile, a loss affirms Saint Preux’s role as gatekeeper.
This is definitely a major fight for Reyes, who has the chance to prove himself a contender at this very moment, rather than in another three fights or couple years. He’s been climbing the ranks very quickly and looking absolutely violent — the type of prospect UFC would love to see join the Top 10. If “Devastator” can continue his winning ways against his toughest foe yet, do not be surprised to see him fast tracked into the title picture. If not, Reyes is still a bright prospect at 205 pounds, but he still needs more time to grow, which is not unreasonable given this is only his 10th professional fight.
At UFC 229, Ovince Saint Preux and Dominick Reyes will go to war. Which man will have his hand raised?