UFC 197 Preview: Jones vs. Saint Preux, Johnson vs. Cejudo

UFC 197 takes place today, April 23, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, USA. In the evening’s main event, former UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones (21-1) returns to begin his pursuit of regaining the 205lb crown by first aquiring the interim title when he faces replacement opponent Ovince Saint Preux (19-7), following the injury withdrawal of current champion Daniel Cormier. Despite his absence from competion for 15 months, 28-year-old Jones remains as the UFC’s no.1 athlete in the promotion’s pound-for-pound rankings. Jones had done it all throughout his constant ascension in the Octagon; dominating the opposition in almost every facet of MMA and overwhelming some of the division’s very best names by out-performing them in the best areas of their game. Saint Preux may indeed be outmatched in every area, both stylistically and physically as the smaller competitior. Few can envision the outcome of ‘OSP’ producing what would unquestionably be one of the biggest underdog victories in the history of the sport, but as the no.6 ranked contender, his ‘puncher’s chance’ comes equipped with his own brand of power and athleticism, the capacity to throw a knockout counter-blow with speed, plus a quiet enthusiasm in what’s been a historic year of upsets ever since Holly Holm’s game changing victory over Ronda Rousey in late 2015. Saint Preux’s UFC stint so far shows that a victory over the 33-year-old is at least not a swiftly achieved feat. Among his 7-2 record in the promotion, the Florida born contender has earned two awards for the coveted Performance of the Night bonus, and in defeat was awarded Fight of the Night following a competetive battle with former title contender Glover Teixeira that saw the Brazilian catch a submission stoppage in the third round. ‘OSP’ has previously shown the endurance necessary for the up coming five-round title fight, having gone the distance with Ryan Bader in their 2014 headline bout. The UFC 197 co-main event features a flyweight title fight with 29-year-old champion and no.2 ranked pound-for-pound fighter Demetrious Johnson (23-2-1) looking to complete an eighth defence of his undisputed 125lb crown against USA Olympic Wrestling sensation Henry Cejudo (10-0), also 29-years-old. Cejudo trantitioned to begin his professional MMA career just three years ago after winning the 55kg Freestlye Wrestling gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Cejudo has gone 4-0 in the UFC with successive decision victories taking him to the no.2 ranked flyweight spot, showcasing his trademark wrestling prowess and well developing Muay Thai skills. At 125lbs Demetrious ‘Might Mouse’ Johnson of course boasts a significant edge with extensive experience across 26 professional bouts. Currently on a nine-fight win streak he has secured one victory after another agaisnt the best that flyweight has offer, in addition to being a former title contender to Dominick Cruz in the larger 135lb bantamweight division. Cejudo’s grappling may put a dent in the usual effectiveness of Johnson’s tremendously well rounded abilities, but the reigning champion still possess the brilliant striking that he has become known for with phenominal technique and speed. UFC 197 full card: Main Card Light Heavyweight Interim Championship: Jon Jones vs. Ovince Saint Preux Flyweight Championship: Demetrious Johnson (c) vs. Henry Cejudo Lightweight: Anthony Pettis vs. Edson Barboza Middleweight: Robert Whittaker vs. Rafael Natal Featherweight: Yair Rodríguez vs. Andre Fili Preliminary Card Flyweight: Sergio Pettis vs. Chris Kelades Welterweight: Danny Roberts vs. Dominique Steele Women’s Strawweight: Carla Esparza vs. Juliana Lima Lightweight: Glaico França vs. James Vick UFC Fight Pass Prelims Heavyweight: Walt Harris vs. Cody East Light Heavyweight: Marcos Rogério de Lima vs. Clint Hester Lightweight: Efrain Escudero vs. Kevin Lee    

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