Adendum-Predictions UFC 197
Most of you know by now that Daniel Cormier is out for the main event of UFC 197 and Ovince Saint Preux is in. For those of you who have no idea who Saint Preux is, you are definitely not alone. For those of you who don’t know why you should watch this fight, you are also definitely not alone. Odds makers are basically giving Saint Preux virtually no chance to beat Jones, and they are not very wrong. Cormier’s injury requires rehab, but not surgery. Why the UFC would not wait the 6 to 8 weeks so that they could make Cormier/Jones part of UFC 200 or, even better Madison Square Gardens where Jones could fight in front of a home crowd. This feels like, and almost certainly is a tune up fight for Jones. The assumption almost certainly is that Jon Jones will run over Saint Preux and meet Cormier at MSG. The problem is that some of the intrigue will have been taken away because Jones will not be fighting Cormier to get back his title. I don’t have issue with Jones getting to fight for the title right away. He never lost it. But taking the title away from Cormier for a few weeks lay off is very hypocritical when no one considered doing the same with Connor McGregor. It is still MMA, and almost anything could happen. Jones losing is just very unlikely. Jones coming even close to losing this fight is very unlikely. Saint Preux is much taller than Cormier and has real power in his punches. But that power has always been based on the Chuck Liddell/Anderson Silva game of drawing an opponent in and landing a big strike while they’re moving forward. He moves well, he’s very athletic and his height could be a bit of an issue as a short notice opponent for Jones, who had obvious problems with Alexander Gustafson, a fighter with very similar qualities. But the Jon Jones we saw then admitted he hadn’t trained very hard for Gustafson, and he was probably partying like crazy right before that fight. If we believe Bones about staying clean and training hard then there’s a real possibility that we will get to see the best Jon Jones we’ve ever seen. There is that. Saint Preux is not even close to the kind of level Jones has shown even in his worst outings. His only hope is Jones shows up unprepared and somehow gets caught by one of those sneaky punches. It could happen. Jones could underestimate Saint Preux and just not train for the three weeks leading up to the fight. He’s more than arrogant enough to do just that, and Jones does like to improvise, particularly against lesser opponents, which could result in him getting caught. But Jones, even at 60 percent is still a much better fighter than anyone Saint Preux has ever had to face, and still has a 4 inch reach advantage, which he uses as well as any fighter that there ever was. He has much better trainers, a much better corner, and the ability to beat Saint Preux in so many different ways no matter where the fight goes. Jones has also never shown any indications of a weak chin or inclination to walk into the kind of obvious traps Saint Preux loves to set. All that I can say is that, if Jon Jones is telling the truth for once and shows up in the kind of shape the videos seem to indicate, then it would be worthwhile just to witness what the best Jon Jones might look like.
And this card still has Demetrius Johnson vs. Henry Cejudo as the co-main event. It really doesn’t get much better than that. One of the best fighters in the world meeting a man who is already one of the best, possibly the best wrestler on the planet. That alone makes this a very good card.
And, hey, Meisha Tate, Chris Weidman and Nate Diaz just showed us that upsets can happen. Henry Cejudo has definitely showed the qualities of a potential upset fighter. But Ovince Saint Preux has never displayed the heart and toughness of those fighters. He would need a lot of luck to do the same.
A lot of luck.
Watch this card for Johnson/Cejudo.
And maybe, just maybe, Saint Preux and the fans get lucky.