So much for the highly anticipated rematch between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier.
The current UFC Light Heavyweight champion pulled out of the UFC 197 title bout last week after suffering a leg injury in training. As a result, the UFC announced that Ovince Saint Preux will be taking over Cormier’s spot and that he will be fighting Jon Jones for the interim UFC Light Heavyweight title at the main event of UFC 197 on April 23rd.
An Interim Title Bout
UFC President Dana White defended the UFC’s decision to make the bout an interim title fight. According to White, Jones never lost his belt in the first place. It can be recalled that the UFC stripped Jones of the title last year after he figured in a hit and run incident that injured a pregnant woman. Cormier then went on to beat Anthony “Rumble” Johnson at UFC 187 to claim the vacant title and successfully defended it against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 192.
A Heavy Favorite
UFC 197 marks Jones’ return to the Octagon since January of 2015, when he decisively beat Cormier at UFC 182. But despite the prolonged absence, Jones has been installed as a heavy 7-1 betting favorite over his replacement opponent. Against Cormier, Jones was a -360 favorite. Now, the odds are as high as -675 against Saint Preux’s +450.
While Saint Preux has been 7-2 with 5 stoppages in his UFC career, the U.S. born Haitian is just 3-2 in his last five bouts. He is ranked just #6 in the UFC Light Heavyweight division but with all the other fighters ranked ahead of his either booked or not ready to fight, he was the best choice left in a dwindling field.
There isn’t any doubt that Saint Preux is one of the up and coming stars at 205 but right now, oddsmakers are saying that he is biting more than he could chew in fighting the pound for pound best fighter in the sport. Even so, Jones himself has suggested that Saint Preux isn’t just a tune up fight.
Jones Has Too Many Advantages
Against Jones, Saint Preux will not have the height or reach advantage he used to enjoy against his former opponents. Jones is light years ahead of him in title fight experience, this being Saint Preux’s first ever title bout. Jones had the luxury of a complete camp and a more extensive training program given his time off due to suspension. On the other hand, Saint Preux, who said he was buying food at McDonald’s when he got the UFC’s call, is taking the bout on three weeks notice. Having said those, Jones practically has all the advantages over his opponent except in one punch KO power. But despite that, Jones may be more durable than any of the opponents OSP has faced before.