After over a year away from the Octagon, MMA's #1-ranked P4P fighter, Jon Jones, made his return tonight at UFC 197. He was originally set to face current Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier for the belt. Unfortunately, a serious injury sidelined Cormier just weeks before the event.
Stepping in on late notice was #6-ranked LHW Ovince Saint Preux, coming off of a win against Rafael Cavalcante earlier this year.
The two met in the main event of UFC 197.
Jones opens the fight in a low stance as the two men circle. OSP looks a bit tentative, while Jones lands a huge spinning back kick to the body.
OSP misses a big head kick, but Jones does not capitalize. Both men are going for leg kicks, with Jones seeming to do more damage.
Jones lands another big side kick to the body. Jones seems to be favoring kicks this fight, but not everything is landing so clean, and he nearly gives up his back after a big miss.
Two minutes to go in the first and neither man has done a signifiant amount of damage yet. It's anyone's fight.
Jones keeps catching OSP's kicks, but OSP manages to maintain his balance each time. Jones is stalking his opponent around the cage, but so far, hasn't made a big statement in the striking department.
Jones goes for a foot sweep, but OSP pops back to his feet quickly.
The first closes with Jones likely taking a 10-9 round.
In between rounds, Jones expresses his frustration with how slow of a start he is off to.
As the second round opens, Jones continues to pepper his opponent with leg kicks. OSP's lead leg seems a bit wobbly, so that strategy might be paying off.
Jones catches another kick and attempts to go for a takedown, eating a bunch of shots in the process. It's hard to tell how much damage he might have taken.
The former champ is finding a lot of success with body kicks, but OSP's unorthodox striking patterns is not giving him a lot of opportunities to follow them up.
The two men clinch, and OSP is clearly aware of Jones' KO power in his knees. They break with no strikes thrown.
Jones clinches again and begins peppering his opponent with strikes. A lot of sharp elbows are finding their marks.
OSP clips Jones with a big punch that shakes the former champ. OSP is opening up a little more now, with Jones trying to control that aggression with leg kicks.
A minute to go in the second round, and OSP looks to be slowing a bit.
Jones is really going for it with his body kicks, but OSP is answering back with a solid shot to the chin of Jon Jones.
As the round closes, Jones lands a big spinning wheel kick. Another 10-9 round for "Bones."
Jon Jones is now landing his leg kicks at will. OSP's hands are starting to drop, his three-week fight camp may not have been enough to prepare his cardio.
Jones does not look particularly quick though, and when OSP throws, he's often landing some good shots.
Jones presses OSP up against the cage, but doesn't look to stay there. It's hard to tell at this point if Jones is slowing the pace on purpose, or if he's struggling to find an opening on OSP.
We're midway through the five round fight, and neither fighter looks visibly damaged, but OSP is clearly starting to tire. He can't seem to find an answer to the leg kicks.
Jones goes for the clinch again, but is denied. He returns to the leg kicks, which OSP really needs to find a way to deal with.
Jones is mixing it up more now, throwing in a few head kicks and punching combinations. OSP is still in this though, and has not been rocked once yet.
Thirty seconds to go in the final non-championship round.
Jon Jones has likely taken a third 10-9 round in a row.
OSP lands a hard body kick to open the first championship round. Jones answers with a side kick of his own.
OSP is looking a little looser this round, although his hands are dropping constantly. He keeps winding up a bit cross, which Jones sees coming from a mile away.
Jones lands a huge double leg slam, but can't keep OSP down for very long at all. It seems like Jones might not be as dominant on the ground as many predicted.
Jones lands a pair of elbows as he stalks OSP towards the edge of the cage. Jon Jones lands another big takedown, and ends up in side control.
OSP is not making an effort to get up as Jones looks to set up some ground and pound.
A minute and a half to go in the fourth, and OSP looks stuck. Jones begins laying on some short elbows. OSP begins walking the cage, but Jones maintains control and a scramble puts Jones in the back mount.
Jones has thirty seconds to do some damage. OSP escapes the back mount, but is eating a ton of punishment from his back. He rides out the clock though, and we're going to the final round.
OSP is down four rounds now, he know he has to move.
Jones lands a big body kick for the first significant strike of the round. Both men are moving well, but neither seems to be amping up the aggression.
Jones is stalking his opponent, he might be looking for another takedown. The former champ is playing conservatively with his striking.
Jones finds his takedown, picking up and carrying OSP to the center of the Octagon for the slam. Jones lets his opponent up though, giving OSP a big soccer kick to the body in the process.
Jones isn't taking any chances with one minute to go, and OSP doesn't seem to have much left in the tank.
Time expires, and Jon "Bones" Jones is likely taking a very clear unanimous decision victory.
Result: Jon Jones def. Ovince Saint Preux via unanimous decision