UFC 197 Preview: ‘Bones’ and ‘Mighty Mouse’ will dominate

Conor McGregor’s retirement tweet might be the talk of the MMA world at the moment, but it’s not enough to distract from Saturday’s UFC 197 that features the return of former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones! He will begin his … Continued

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SiriusXM Editor
April 20, 2016

Conor McGregor’s retirement tweet might be the talk of the MMA world at the moment, but it’s not enough to distract from Saturday’s UFC 197 that features the return of former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones! He will begin his quest to reclaim the belt he never lost when he faces Ovince St. Preux for the interim title. In the co-main event, UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson will face top contender and Olympic gold-medalist Henry Cejudo. The rest of the card is stacked, so be sure to tune in on Saturday!

Without further ado, here’s a look at the main and co-main events and predictions for each:

Main Event: UFC Interim Light Heavyweight Championship- Jon Jones vs. Ovince St. Preux

It’s hard to be too excited for this fight, considering we were originally supposed to see Jon Jones face bitter-rival Daniel Cormier for the undisputed light heavyweight title. An injury to “DC” forced the UFC to scramble to find an opponent for Jones and found a serviceable replacement in Ovince St. Preux. OSP is the sixth-ranked fighter in the 205-pound division and one of the few fighters in the top-10 who have yet to face off against “Bones,” so there is some intrigue. It’s just not the guaranteed-fireworks type of fight we would’ve gotten in Jones-Cormier.

St. Preux is a former football player for the University of Tennessee, so he should be able to match Jones’ athleticism. At 6’3″ with an 80-inch reach, he won’t be facing as great a size-disadvantage that most of Jones’ opponents usually have to deal with. Still considered a raw and developing talent in mixed martial arts, OSP has one-punch knockout power as he showed in wins over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Patrick Cummins. He has also demonstrated a strong grappling skill-set, once finishing a fight by a rare Von Flue choke.

With all that said, it’s hard to fathom a scenario where St. Preux beats Jones. JBJ is arguably the greatest fighter of all time. His combination of size, athleticism, dexterity and skill has never been seen before inside the octagon. If not for Jones’ questionable decision-making outside the octagon, which saw him fail a drug test for cocaine and flee the scene of a traffic accident resulting in his arrest and being stripped of his title, we’d probably be talking about whether there are any viable opponents left for him because he likely would’ve cleaned out the 205-pound division by now. Instead, Saturday will be the first time we see Jones fight since last January.

In his free time outside the octagon Jones began power-lifting and, quite frankly, looks scary. It’s not like he was sitting out recovering from an injury; he was training the entire time and became more physically-imposing than he already was. If he was dominating his opponents before, I can’t imagine what he’s going to do to them now. Credit to OSP for stepping up on three weeks’ notice, but there’s no way Bones loses this fight.

Prediction: Jones TKO, 2nd Round.

Co-Main Event: UFC Flyweight Championship- Demetrious Johnson (c) vs. Henry Cejudo

Flying completely under the radar, we get a fight for a real championship in the co-main event as Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson will look for his eighth consecutive flyweight title defense when he takes on Henry Cejudo. It’s crazy how little attention this fight is getting, considering Johnson is one of the most dominant pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC today.

Johnson has been criticized for his inability to sell a fight a-la a great trash-talker like Conor McGregor. For all is skill inside the octagon, Mighty Mouse is not necessarily a needle-mover in terms of pay-per-view numbers. His fights are often characterized as “boring” by casual fans because of his technical prowess, but it’s really because he is so head-and-shoulders above the 125-pound division that he makes the fights look easy. Johnson has hardly ever been in any real danger in a fight because he’s so skilled at avoiding contact. He also flawlessly mixes striking and grappling techniques together, making him able to adapt and excel wherever the fight may go.

Cejudo is probably the biggest threat to Johnson in a very long time. An Olympic gold-medal wrestler, “The Messenger” has yet to really showcase any real dominance during his time in the UFC, winning all four of his fights by decision. But Olympic-caliber wrestling cannot be ignored, especially when wrestling is such an integral part of Johnson’s attack. If Cejudo is able to avoid Johnson’s takedowns and possibly put the champion on his back, it would give him a better chance of making the fight ugly.

Cejudo needs to find a way to overcome Johnson’s technical-superiority. Mighty Mouse is just so sound at mixing techniques, beautifully stringing together striking combinations to set up takedowns. It’s nearly impossible to match Johnson’s technical ability, so Cejudo’s best bet is to try to create chaos by making Johnson uncomfortable with his forward pressure. Still, Johnson has shown no weaknesses in any aspect of MMA, so there’s no reason to pick against him.

Prediction: Johnson submission, 4th Round.

Watch Steve Cofield’s breakdown of UFC 197: