MMAmania.com resident fighter analyst Andrew Richardson breaks down the mixed martial arts (MMA) game of UFC Fight Night 47 headliner Ovince St. Preux, who looks to prove his top ten ranking against Ryan Bader this Saturday (August 16, 2014) at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, Maine.
Strikeforce veteran, Ovince St. Preux, looks to continue his rise through the light heavyweight rankings by taking on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winner, Ryan Bader, this Saturday (August 16, 2014) at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, Maine.
Not long after working his way to the main card of Strikeforce shows, OSP was absorbed into the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) along with the rest of the organization. Having earned a 6-1 record in the California-based promotion, St. Preux had a decent amount of hype leading into his UFC career. His first fight against Gian Villante was cut short by an inadvertent eye poke, but St. Preux earned the technical decision. Since that fairly lackluster debut, OSP finished his next three foes within the first two rounds.
Now, he takes a serious step up against Darth. Does he have the mixed martial arts (MMA) skill to rise to the occasion? Let’s find out. Striking A large and extremely athletic southpaw, St. Preux is a dangerous if inexperienced striker. He can get rather sloppy at times, but the dual threat of his power strikes and takedowns often allow him to control the striking. At times, OSP looks to fully utilize his 80 inch reach with the jab. He usually shoots out a long, spearing jab but then does not build off of it. In his last fight, however, St. Preux did throw a couple half speed jabs/feints to line up a strong left uppercut, which was a nice change of pace for the Knoxville-native.
Usually, St. Preux charges his opponent with a long left hand, either straight or arcing. He’ll then follow up with a powerful right hook and occasionally finish the combination with another left hook. These looping punches make up the majority of his boxing combinations and leave OSP more than open to counter shots. Of course, he has the power to make staying in range looking for counters risky. The best tool in St. Preux’s stand up arsenal is his strong left roundhouse kick.
Already made dangerous by his southpaw stance, St. Preux capitalizes on the best two aspects of his game: length and power. OSP can land hard kicks to the head or body from well outside his opponent’s range. He even managed to break Ryan Jimmo’s arm with one of these kicks, when Big Deal went to block a high kick. Additionally, St. Preux has attacked with some other kicking techniques. He’s always looking for the spinning back kick but rarely commits to it.
Recently, St. Preux started attacking his opponent’s legs with the outside switch and oblique kicks. Defensively, St. Preux has some seriously flaws that his length has thus far allowed him to (mostly) get away with. His hands stray far from his chin, and St. Preux does not have the head movement or footwork for this to work against elite fighters. Worst still, his chin raises high when he throws long punches; a huge percentage of what he throws.
Wrestling A state runner up in high school, OSP relies heavily on his physicality to drag his opponent to the mat. So far, it’s worked pretty well, as Gegard Mousasi is the only fighter to successfully out-wrestle St. Preux. Though he doesn’t set it up particularly well, St. Preux has a very nice double leg takedown. He really runs through the shot; it’s like a combination of a wrestling shot and football tackle. In the clinch, St. Preux’s strength again shines through.
He’s able to manipulate his opponent’s body around even when he’s at a disadvantage in terms of leverage. Once he secures his grip and pushes his opponent against the cage, OSP will look for an inside trip or simply throw his opponent to the mat. From the top position, St. Preux is at his most dangerous. His length allows him to create great amounts of power without standing or gaining a dominant position, as his finish of Cody Donovan shows.
In addition, he’s still quite dangerous when he can stand above his opponent, as he likes to dive into the guard with a big left hand. Defensively, St. Preux is fairly inconsistent. In his fight with Mousasi, The Armenian Assassin was consistently able to land sloppy takedowns from the clinch or shot whenever he managed to get in on St. Preux’s hips. However, in the very same fight, St. Preux hit a beautiful switch counter and has looked immovable so far in the UFC.
Ryan Bader will be a serious test to his wrestling. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) It’s hard to get a full read on St. Preux’s jiu-jitsu skills. On one hand, he finished his second victory with a calf slicer — and of course there’s no video — but he also seems to just force a fair percentage of grappling exchanges. From the top, St. Preux seems pretty solid with his guard passing. Once he’s standing over his opponent, he does a decent job mixing in attempts to throw the legs by with his punches. Plus, he transitions well in dominant positions, rarely giving his opponent (other than Mousasi and his brilliant jiu-jitsu) an opportunity to reverse position. In his bout with Nikita Krylov, St. Preux managed to pull off a lovely Von Flue choke. Sadly, this still means very little, as Krylov is beyond sloppy on the mat and gave OSP the submission on a silver platter.
Defensively, St. Preux deserves some credit for surviving the grappling assault of Gegard Mousasi. Mousasi had a tight kimura attempt that OSP managed to scramble out of and also passed St. Preux’s guard a number of times. Regardless, OSP managed to either recover guard and scramble back to his feet each time. Against a grappler of Mousasi’s caliber, that’s an impressive accomplishment for a green fighter. Best chance for success Frankly, I don’t think that St. Preux has the defensive wrestling to grapple with Bader for any extended period of time.
Against a wrestler as determined as Darth, that’s a very bad thing. In order to win this fight, St. Preux will have to capitalize on Bader’s defensive flaws. Bader is very hittable: while standing at range, during his punching combos, and especially after he throws. St. Preux is not afraid of exchanging punches and has the power to crack Bader’s jaw, so he should throw whenever possible. It would probably be smart to avoid throwing his kicks. St. Preux does not set them up with his punches, meaning Bader could simply absorb the impact and then grab his leg. Getting kicked by OSP surely sucks, but Bader would likely happily make that trade to grab an easy takedown. Will St. Preux continue to climb the light heavyweight ladder, or will Ryan Bader build on his current win streak?
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