While Jon Jones was busy rehabilitating his image over the course of the past year, Ovince St. Preux maintained an active schedule, fighting three times since last April.
His interim title bout against the returning Jones in the UFC 197 headliner on Saturday will give him four fights in approximately one year’s time. Jones, meanwhile, has not competed since taking a five-round verdict over Daniel Cormier at UFC 182 in January 2015.
St. Preux isn’t banking on ring rust being a huge factor in their fight, but even the slightest edge couldn’t hurt against the man regarded by many as the sport’s top pound-for-pound fighter.
“It might give me a little bit of an advantage,” St. Preux said during a recent conference call. “But at this time it’s just the proper preparation stuff. I know how to prepare correctly for fights so I have a good camp behind me.
“The past two weeks have been really strenuous, but it’s just two weeks. I sacrificed a lot in my life in order to make things happen so I might have a slight advantage but it really doesn’t matter.”
St. Preux agreed to the fight on short notice after Cormier withdrew from the highly-anticipated rematch with Jones due to a leg injury suffered in training camp. “OSP,” who is 7-2 during his tenure with the Las Vegas-based promotion, isn’t worried about the lack of a full camp.
“I’ll be well prepared, and I’ve been training. I mean pretty much the day I found out about the fight I haven’t took a break yet, and I’ve been training every day,” he said. “I think I only had two days where I only trained twice a day, pretty much all the other days you train three times a day.
“One of my coaches moved in with me, and he’s making sure I’m on time to everything. I had my meals prepared. If I’m not at the gym training then I’m doing some type of treatment, either I’m using the hyperbaric chamber, seeing a chiropractor. I’m just making sure my body is up to par,” he continued. “So I definitely feel good. I know regardless, the way my body performs I’m definitely going to be at 100 percent plus walking in the cage.”
St. Preux has struggled in the past against a strong grappling base, as evidenced in lopsided losses to Glover Teixeira and Ryan Bader, opponents that Jones previously dispatched with relative ease. The former University of Tennessee football player is well aware of his deficiencies and his underdog status. As the co-headliner on the biggest stage of his career to date, St. Preux already has his mental game on point. All that’s left is to perform.
“Cool, calm, collected. That’s the only way I’ve been feeling,” he said. “You know a lot of times people are thinking that it has a lot to do with your physical attributes, but a lot of it comes into mental preparation too. So I’m just cool, calm, collected.”