Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight talents Ovince Saint Preux and Jamahal Hill will collide this weekend (Sat., Dec. 5, 2020) at UFC Vegas 16 inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Gatekeeper may be an accurate label for Saint Preux at this stage in his career, but it’s hardly an insult. “OSP” makes roughly six-figures just to show up against these up-and-comers, and if he does turn them away, that number doubles! Considering how much more active than the average 205-pounder Saint Preux is, the veteran is doing just fine. Hill is ready for a step up in competition. “Sweet Dreams” is undefeated with two wins inside the Octagon and another on “Contender Series.” Technically, his most recent victory, a first-round knockout of Khadis Ibragimov, was overturned due to marijuana, but let’s not pretend that actually matters.
Instead, 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), Michal Oleksiejczuk (UFC Fight Night 160), Patrick Cummins (UFC on FOX 15), Alonzo Menifield (UFC Vegas 9)
Key Losses: Jon Jones (UFC 197), Ilir Latifi (UFC on FOX 28), Nikita Krylov (UFC 236), Jimi Manuwa (UFC 204), Volkan Oezdemir (UFC Fight Night 104), Glover Teixeira (UFC Fight Night 73)
Keys to Victory: Saint Preux has been in there with the best of the world a dozen times over. The rangy Southpaw packs huge power in his left kick and left hand, and he’s a very tricky and dangerous grappler on the mat.
“OSP” is typically not one to force the wrestling exchanges despite his takedown talents. Instead, he likes to strike first, only turning to his wrestling if put in trouble or forced to deny takedowns.
Against Hill, it would be wise to test those waters early. Hill is used to be the larger and more physical man, but Saint Preux has him edged in both areas. Size and strength go a long way in cage wrestling, and Hill was taken down several times by Darko Stosic earlier this year.
If Saint Preux gets him down, he just might strangle him.
Should the takedown not materialize, both men are Southpaws, which means adjusting from their usual striking preferences. For “OSP,” I’d like to see him focus on dropping that heavy left kick to the lead leg. He may not be able to dig the liver like usual, but a few low kicks could halt any potential speed advantage.
Record: 7-0 (1)
Key Wins: Darko Stosic (UFC Fight Night 166), Dequan Townsend (KOP 62), Alexander Poppeck (Contender Series)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Hill is a very physically talented Light Heavyweight with smart fundamentals. The Southpaw fires quick, straight punches and excels at punting foes in the belly with both kicks and knees.
As mentioned, facing a fellow Southpaw means that Hill will have to adjust his game a bit. Like Saint Preux, kicking the lead leg rather than the mid-section is a smarter choice. Unlike “OSP,” however, Hill demonstrated a very nice Southpaw jab in his last bout when faced with another leftie.
When two Southpaws meet, the jab is of critical importance. Suddenly, the left hand is no longer the range finder. If one man is better able to implement his lead hand, he can control the distance and flow of the fight, interrupting and starting his own combinations with the strike.
Hill has to win the jab, which will help him land power punches and deny any takedown attempts.
It’s a fun veteran vs. prospect match up.
Even having won two of his last three, Saint Preux’s role is unlikely to change much. He’s lost to too many of the division’s current top contenders, and at 37 years of age, rematches are unlikely to favor him. To climb the ladder, “OSP” has to put an extended win streak together, which could potentially start here.
As for Hill, this is a major opportunity against the division’s No.15-ranked contender. If he can remain undefeated, “Sweet Dreams” will almost certainly steal Saint Preux’s slot, setting himself up for another ranked foe next. That’s how momentum towards the title is created, even if Hill is still several fights away from such an opportunity.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 16 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+/ESPN2 “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+/ESPN2 10 p.m. ET.
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At UFC Vegas 16, Ovince Saint Preux and Jamahal Hill will throw down in the co-main event. Which man will earn the victory?