UFC FN 56: Ovince St. Preux Says “Shogun” Rua Has “Lost a Step” as Pivotal Opportunity Nears
By Kelsey Mowatt
Following his unanimous decision loss to Ryan Bader in August, Ovince St. Preux has been blessed with an opportunity to defeat one of the sport’s greatest fighters ever, and resume his rise up the light-heavyweight ranks.
St. Preux was booked to fight Francimar Barroso at UFC Fight Night 56, but when Jimi Manuwa injured his foot recently, the promotion tapped “OSP” to face “Shogun” Rua. Not only is it a big step up in competition, in terms of his opponent’s profile, but St. Preux has returned to underdog status because of the change. Although, by the sounds of it, the 31 year-old St. Preux doesn’t really see it that way.
While appearing on a recent edition of “UFC Tonight”, St. Preux was asked to weigh-in on the opponent change, and how Rua is different than Barroso. St. Preux proceeded to argue that “Shogun” is a “good match-up for me”, before relaying the following about the former champ (quote via FOX Sports 1 press release):
“They fight similar. Both come forward. But Shogun has been in the game so long, he’s lost a step. I’ll be able to capitalize on it.”
Of course, many observers would agree with St. Preux, in terms of Rua and the argument his abilities are no longer at their peak. The 32 year-old still possesses fearsome power, as he demonstrated in putting away James Te Huna, but Rua has dropped three of his last four bouts.
Even if it’s true, however, it remains to be seen whether St. Preux has the means to catch the decorated fighter. To be fair, Rua’s recent losses came against top tier opposition in Alexander Gustafsson, Chael Sonnen and Dan Henderson.
Rua was badly outscored by Gustafsson, and his submission loss to Sonnen may have been disappointing, but his ground game certainly hasn’t been a major question mark. In his rematch with Henderson, Rua had outstruck the rugged vet by a 79 to 32 margin–according to Fight Metric–before he was floored by an “H-Bomb” in round three.
St. Preux had been on a tear, prior to facing Bader, as the powerful fighter had won five straight fights. During the run, the light-heavyweight also demonstrated he can finish fights in a variety of ways, as “OSP” scored both knockout and submission wins.
Against Bader, however, St. Preux’s offense was largely negated by the veteran’s wrestling skills. According to Fight Metric, Bader scored 9 takedowns throughout the fight, and landed 77 strikes throughout the five round bout. St. Preux, on the other hand, only managed to land 30 strikes of his own.
When asked on “UFC Tonight” what he’s changed up since his clear cut loss to Bader, “OSP” stated:
“When you go on those win streaks, you get complacent. I wasn’t drilling as much as I needed to before the Bader fight. My trainers were getting on me to get in the gym. This time, I was constantly drilling. I went down to spar some guys, and my timing’s on point, my wrestling is looking good and my jiu-jitsu is looking good too.”
Now it remains to be seen whether St. Preux can utilize his unorthodox striking and punishing top game to score the upset win.
UFC FN 56 will be hosted by Uberlandia, Brazil, and the card will be broadcast throughout North America on Fight Pass.