Ovince St. Preux did not make good on his plan to unveil a new submission Saturday night, but the Strikeforce light heavyweight impressed nonetheless.
St. Preux entered the cage as a heavy favorite against T.J. Cook, and “OSP” proved deserving of that status in the contest’s early going, kicking off the Showtime-broadcast main card of Strikeforce “Rousey vs. Kaufman” by clubbing Cook with a left hook to the temple that caused the 29-year-old to crumble to the canvas.
“I definitely think I rocked him pretty good in the first round. I wasn’t even looking at him, and I could tell that every time I hit him he was going limp, but he just kept on waking up,” St. Preux said at the post fight press conference at Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, Calif.
To Cook’s credit, he managed to recover from the blow, even as St. Preux attempted to finish him with ground-and-pound against the cage. The undersized Floridian was able to regain his base and cover up, weathering St. Preux’s storm before cracking the southpaw back with some hard shots of his own.
“I definitely was surprised [at how Cook recovered]. I stunned him really bad and went in for the finish, but every time I would get a clean shot in, he would come back,” St. Preux told Showtime Sports. “I think I exerted too much energy trying to finish him and kind of backed off a little bit.”
While the first half of round two consisted mainly of St. Preux catching his wind, the frame was not totally without action, as the former University of Tennessee linebacker planted Cook with a powerful double-leg takedown before transitioning to the mount, where he would end the period.
In the third stanza, St. Preux finally found the finishing stroke that eluded him in the first frame, launching a monstrous left hook that caromed off Cook’s skull, stiffening the Floridian and causing him to fall flat on his back. Further offense was not needed, as referee Mike Beltran rushed in to save the fallen fighter from any more punishment.
“When the third round came, I was definitely feeling refreshed and had a little bounce to my step. I got him with a jab a couple of times, and I backed off to try to regroup,” said St. Preux. “As I was going back in, [Cook’s] coach was like, ‘Throw the overhand right. It’s there.’ Then I thought about it and realized my overhand left was there too. I went ahead and threw it and caught him right on the button. I knew he was out before he hit the ground.”