Rivalries: Ovince St. Preux

By: Brian Knapp
Jun 25, 2021

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Ovince St. Preux has already experienced much of the mixed martial arts life cycle in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, moving from prospect to contender before shifting from contender to gatekeeper. The 38-year-old Immokalee, Florida, native might now be transitioning to the twilight phase.

St. Preux will return to the heavyweight division for the second time in his 40-fight career when he confronts Tanner Boser in the UFC Fight Night 190 co-main event on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. “OSP” finds himself in a bit of a tailspin, having loss five of his last eight bouts. St. Preux last competed at UFC on ESPN 19, where he succumbed to second-round punches from Jamahal Hill on Dec. 5. It was first knockout defeat in more than four years.

As St. Preux prepares for his three-round battle with Boser, a look at some of the rivalries that have helped define his journey in MMA:

Nikita Krylov

Knoxville MMA’s St. Preux rendered the Ukrainian unconscious with a shoulder choke in the first round of their UFC 171 light heavyweight showcase on March 15, 2014 at American Airlines Arena in Dallas. Krylov—who stepped in as a replacement for Thiago Silva—went to sleep 89 seconds into Round 1, his debut at 205 pounds spoiled. St. Preux swooped in for an early takedown and moved immediately to side mount. Krylov held the guillotine position in an ill-advised attempt to defend his counterpart’s advances, leaving himself open to the choke. St. Preux was all too happy to oblige. They met for a second time five years later at UFC 236, where a new-and-improved Krylov submitted “OSP” with a second-round rear-naked choke and evened their head-to-head series at 1-1.

Ryan Bader

Repeated well-disguised takedowns, a neutralizing top game and some productive work in the clinch carried Bader to a unanimous decision over St. Preux in the UFC Fight Night 47 headliner on Aug. 16, 2014 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, Maine. All three cageside judges scored it for Bader: 48-47, 49-46 and 49-46. St. Preux’s bright spots in his first main event assignment were few and far between, though he did lift “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 winner off his feet with a thudding second-round body kick. He was often limited to single-strike success, as Bader moved into position behind his punches and countered St. Preux’s advances with takedowns. He executed multiple takedowns in the first, third and fourth rounds, keeping St. Preux bottled up on his back. Still, St. Preux closed strong. He delivered a takedown of his own in Round 5 before opening a cut on Bader with a sharp elbow, but his efforts were not enough to produce the finish he needed.

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Glover Teixeira

Teixeira did not grant St. Preux passage to the upper tier of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s light heavyweight decision and instead put him to sleep with a rear-naked choke in the third round of their UFC Fight Night 73 main event on Aug. 8, 2015 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. St. Preux went limp 3:10 into Round 3. Takedowns, ground-and-pound and deft topside grappling buoyed Teixeira, who weathered a first-round liver kick from the former University of Tennessee football player. He took down and mounted St. Preux in the first and third frames, chipping away with punches, hammerfists, elbows and forearm strikes. Teixeira completed the last of his takedowns inside the first minute of Round 3, worked to mount, forced St. Preux to surrender his back and locked in the choke.

Jon Jones

Jones at less than his best was good enough to get past St. Preux. In his first appearance inside the Octagon in more than a year, Jones claimed the interim Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight title and cruised to a unanimous decision over St. Preux in the UFC 197 headliner on April 23, 2016 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Scores were 50-44, 50-45 and 50-45, all for Jones. St. Preux, who replaced reigning light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier on short notice, was stuck in neutral for the majority of the 25-minute encounter. Jones chipped away at the underdog with a variety of kicks to the legs, body and head. He appeared passive at times but found another gear in the championship rounds. Jones struck for a pair of takedowns in the fourth, battered the fading St. Preux with some of his trademark elbows and briefly advanced to mount. He scored with another powerful takedown in the fifth before easing his foot off the gas and coasting to the finish line.

Corey Anderson

St. Preux knocked out “The Ultimate Fighter 19” winner with a spectacular head kick in the third round of their UFC 217 prelim on Nov. 4, 2017 at Madison Square Garden in New York. A short-notice fill-in for Patrick Cummins, “OSP” drew the curtain 1:25 into Round 3. Anderson enjoyed long stretches of success, as he bullied his way into the clinch, secured takedowns and assaulted the former University of Tennessee linebacker with ground-and-pound. Momentum appeared to be in his corner at the start of the third round, but one swing of St. Preux’s mighty left leg changed everything. Shin met skull in the center of the cage, instantly freezing Anderson where he stood. No follow-up shots were required. Advertisement
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