Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight knockout artists Ovince St. Preux and Volkan Oezdemir went to war last night (Feb. 4, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 104 inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Despite being ranked inside the top 10, St. Preux entered this bout in the midst of a rough patch. Having lost three of his last four, it was very important for “OSP” to put on a strong performance, as his status as a contender depended on the victory.
As a short-notice replacement, not much was expected of Oezdemir, who was largely an unknown heading into this bout. Still, the Swiss athlete had an opportunity to immediately make an impact on his division, and he came out swinging.
Oezdemir started the bout aggressively, landing some hard kicks and boxing his way into the clinch. St. Preux attempted a trip and broke away, but Oezdemir returned to kicking hard and throwing big combinations.
At about the halfway point in the round, St. Preux made some adjustments and found some success. His left kicks landed infrequently but with solid impact. Additionally, he caught Oezdemir charging in too recklessly a couple of times, countering his foe with hard shots.
Nevertheless, Oezdemir controlled the dance and took the first round, capping off a strong start with a big flurry at the bell.
St. Preux changed his approach in the second round, hunting for a double leg takedown and transitioning into a trip takedown. He put Oezdemir on the mat briefly, but the Swiss athlete scrambled up to his feet almost immediately, where he returned to battering his foe’s lead leg.
Both fighters slowed considerably by the halfway point of the round. While the activity dropped, both men seemed to land whatever they were throwing as they took turns hitting each other with heavy body shots.
The second round was definitely up in the air.
Though both men were exhausted, they actively traded tired shots. The takedown did not materialize for “OSP,” but he was generally the more active and efficient fighter, throwing combinations and quick strikes. Meanwhile, Oezdemir lunged into power shots, which affected his accuracy and output.
By the end of the round, St. Preux was on the offensive, putting his foe on the fence and digging to the body. Oezdemir hung in there and scored some hard shots, but he was really overwhelmed and exhausted by the end of the bout.
Ultimately, Oezdemir was awarded the split decision victory.
While the momentum was firmly in St. Preux’s corner at the end of the bout, Oezdemir did dominate the opening round and the second was closely contested. Both men had an argument to win, but frankly, the newcomer put on the better performance in a bout on very short notice.
Oezdemir won this bout because he was able to kick with St. Preux. His inside low kicks did damage, and Oezdemir was not pressured to close the distance. Because he could wait for his moments — often while St. Preux was off-balance — Oezdemir was able to charge with less risk of being countered.
Additionally, Oezdemir’s aggression was huge. Immediately, he denied St. Preux any time to find his range. He kept St. Preux on the defensive for a long time, and it allowed him to do damage and build an early lead.
If Oezdemir’s conditioning improves with a full camp, he could just be a contender.
As for St. Preux, this was a pretty poor performance regardless of whether you believe he earned the decision win. He never really turned it up until the third round, allowing his opponent to dictate the pace for much of the fight.
More than anything, this loss illustrates how little St. Preux has developed on a technical level. His game is reliant upon his long range kicks — which are seriously hard but often lack set up — awkward but powerful counter punches, and his ability to physically overpower opponents to the mat.
In this match up, none of those things worked consistency. Plus, St. Preux’s issue of being backed into the fence remained, as that’s where he absorbed a huge number of power punches.
Following this loss, St. Preux’s future is unclear. This was a big step back in competition, and “OSP” did not perform like a ranked foe opposite a newcomer. If he’s going to return to the title mix, he needs some strong performances quickly.
Last night, Volkan Oezdemir scraped past Ovince St. Preux for a victory in his UFC debut. How high is the Swiss athlete’s ceiling?
For complete UFC Fight Night 104 “Jung vs Bermudez” fight results and play-by-play, click HERE!
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