Dan Hardy believes Jon Jones may have been holding back during the Ovince Saint Preux fight at UFC 197
Jon Jones made his Octagon return after a year-long absence against Ovince Saint Preux at UFC 197 in April 2016. While he did win a unanimous decision verdict along with the UFC interim light heavyweight title, it was not the same stellar performance that people were accustomed to seeing.
Many point to ring rust as the possible cause, while Jones himself pointed to the 585-pound deadlift routine during his layoff before fighting Saint Preux. But according to Dan Hardy, it could be possible that the former champion was holding himself back, especially since rival Daniel Cormier was sitting at cage side, calling the fight.
“A little controversial, I would say, but if you put yourself in Jon Jones’ position, he knows that Daniel Cormier’s sitting in that commentary booth, watching him. Paying attention,” Hardy said. “I’m sure that (Cormier) saw that as an opportunity to study Jon Jones before he actually stepped in there and got the chance to fight him.”
“I don’t think he felt particularly threatened by OSP. I don’t think there were many things that OSP brings to the table that are really gonna trouble Jon Jones,” he continued. “So the first thing that stands out, is that it’s a five-round fight. I don’t think Jon Jones would’ve allowed him to get to five rounds, had it been a regular title defense for him.”
“There were also moments where you kind of feel like Jones could’ve stepped out of third gear, and just pick the pace up a little bit, and OSP would’ve fallen apart. And he just didn’t. He kind of held back a little bit.”
Hardy pointed out how Jones displayed the usual weapons in his arsenal, from the spinning attacks to his patented oblique kick to the knee, and how there were “no new attacks” from him. Another reason he gave was that Jones was not too invested since his real objective was to win his belt back from Cormier.
“I also think there wasn’t the investment in this fight for Jon Jones,” Hardy said. “He wants to fight DC. He wants his belt back.”
“These were all just statements (Jones had) for DC, really, just reminded him that he can take him down. Reminded him that he can manhandle all these big, strong, powerful athletes. OSP is a top contender in this division, he just threw him around. It was a very one-sided fight.”
After all is said and done, Cormier and Jones will settle their long-standing grudges for the second time on Saturday at UFC 214 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.