When Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) kicks things off this Sat. night (Aug. 8, 2015) for UFC Fight Night 73 in Nashville, Tennessee, it will invade “Music City” with a light heavyweight main event between Glover Teixeira and Ovince Saint Preux.
Check out the full fight card here.
Teixeira — a former 205-pound title challenger – looks to ward off the surging Tennessee-based fighter in Saint Preux while avoiding a career-crippling, third-straight loss. It will prove to be a difficult assignment for the Brazilian, who has been out of action since his UFC 179 loss to Phil Davis because of a bum knee.
Unlike Teixeira, Saint Preux has been healthy and active. He is also an owner of two-straight, first-round knockouts.
“OSP” has an explosive fighting style, which is a testament to his long limbs and a 6’3″ frame. Not only can he hurt his foes with a variety of strikes, but the former Tennessee Volunteer is also adept in the art of ground fighting, as evidenced by the Von Flue choke he slapped on Nikita Krylov at UFC 171.
“Our gameplan is set up for me to have a really good finish and so far it’s been working pretty good, you don’t know what to expect from me,” Saint Preux told UFC correspondent Megan Olivi. “If I go on the ground and I’m working for something — if I’m not throwing punches at you — I’m looking for something that’s unorthodox.”
While his mixed martial arts (MMA) repertoire has grown considerably since his Octagon debut in April 2013, the 32-year-old contender admits a lack of motivation played a pivotal role in training prior to his unanimous decision loss to Ryan Bader one year ago.
“The fight with Ryan taught me a lot. I was on a five-fight win streak and I was doing pretty good. At the same time, whatever you give in training is the output you’re going to end up getting,” said Saint Preux. “I didn’t give a lot in training camp. I didn’t do what I needed to do. Sometimes I’d wake up and was like, ‘I don’t feel like going to training.’ I didn’t go to training, so that was kind of a tell-tale sign of the fight.”
His loss to Bader, which halted a five-fight win streak, made the athletically-gifted Saint Preux rethink his strategy and in-turn he began to emphasize wrestling in his Knoxville Mixed Martial Arts Academy camp. It was a wake up call, and a very befitting one indeed, because Bader would not be the last elite wrestler he would be pitted against.
“My first few fights in the UFC, I fought primarily strikers. I didn’t have to worry about wrestling. I didn’t work on my wrestling as I needed to,” Saint Preux admitted. “Right after that fight, I got with a great wrestling coach. It showed when I fought Patrick Cummins. I’m expecting him to take me down, but my whole thing is how long can he hold me down. I got taken down three times and was up right away.”
With embattled former champion Jon Jones suspended for the time being, pending his legal situation, the light heavyweight division is as wide open as it has even been. Daniel Cormier is the new titleholder, having captured the vacant title in a second-round submission win over Anthony Johnson at UFC 187 back in May.
For the No. 6-ranked Saint Preux, a win over the No. 4-ranked Glover Teixeira would illuminate his Octagon resume and perhaps propel him ahead of the title-hungry Bader in his quest for gold. Though Teixeira holds a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt to go with his heavy hands, Saint Preux feels he has the all-around edge in the cage, provided he comes into their meeting with the right mindset.
“He comes from a strong gym and has KO power. He’s well-rounded all across the board,” Saint Preux said. “I’ve faced top fighters before, too. It’s just one of those things where if I go in there and implement my gameplan. If I go in there with the natural killer instinct I usually have, I’ll have no problem. I tell everybody, if you blink, you might miss it. I think I probably have the most knockout power in the 205-pound weight class.”
When he goes for his 10th career victory by knockout, he will have the support of his college alumni and locals, something he has not felt since he last fought in Nashville in Jan. 2011. He is excited but focused, with one eye on the past and the other on attaining gold.
“Every fight that you see me, I’m going to be a different fighter. My fighting style might be different, but at the same time, you’re going to me evolve even more and more,” Saint Preux added. “I want that fight [Bader] back, but to be honest, I’m still in a good position where I’m at right now. If we meet in the near future, it’s going to be a different story, but until then my eyes are just on the title.”
For more on UFC Fight Night 73 click here.
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