Ovince St. Preux didn’t get the opponent he was initially promised at UFC Fight Night 117, but he still made the most of his evening.
The former University of Tennessee linebacker earned the third Von Flue submission of his career in Friday’s headliner at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, tapping short-notice foe Yushin Okami 1:50 into the first frame. “OSP” now owns three of the five Von Flue choke submissions in UFC history after eliciting tapouts from Marcos Rogerio de Lima, Nikita Krylov and Okami.
“To be honest I was really going for another submission. I was going for a catch kimura, power kimura type of deal,” St. Preux said on Fox Sports 1. “He just grabbed my head. And the moment he grabbed my head, instinct took over. I just locked his arm in, and I pretty much knew when I locked it in he was gonna go out.”
Okami shot for a takedown within the bout’s first 10 seconds. St. Preux sprawled on the attempt and Okami elected to hang on to a guillotine as his foe settled into half guard. Eventually, St. Preux was able to pass to side control and secure the choke for the finish.
“We touched gloves, and I thought I was gonna end up circling. Right when I got through circling I was gonna gauge him, but I took one step forward and he took a deep shot,” St. Preux said. “I was like, OK he was for real, he was gonna take a shot. I was in position to get an anaconda. But I ended up in his half guard. From there, I don’t know why he grabbed my head, but he grabbed my head.”
St. Preux was initially supposed to face Mauricio Rua, a legend in Japan from his Pride Fighting Championship days. However, a knee injury forced “Shogun” to withdraw from the bout approximately one week out. Instead, St. Preux was booked against Okami, a former middleweight title challenger who was making his first UFC appearance since September 2013.
“At the end of the day, I’m a fighter. It’s my job. It’s what I’ve got to do,” St. Preux said. “Whether it’s me stepping in last minute, or somebody else coming in last minute, we’ve got to get it done. Hats off to Yushin Okami for stepping in. I’m still looking forward to Shogun.”
St. Preux knocked out Rua in 34 seconds in their first meeting at UFC Fight Night 56 on Nov. 8, 2014. While the necessity of such a rematch was questioned when the booking was first announced, St. Preux is still looking forward to a return date with the Brazilian.
“You don’t know how much time and effort I put into that fight,” St. Preux said. “The day I found out about that, it really upset me. So I’m still shooting for the Shogun fight, after that [the UFC] can throw me anybody.”