Jon Jones is considered by many to be the greatest fighter in the history of MMA. However, on Saturday night, the former UFC light heavyweight champion appeared to be struggling vs. Ovince Saint Preux.OSP is now 3-3 his last six, gallantly took the fight on three weeks notice, has a blue belt in BJJ, trains out of the unheralded Knoxville Martial Arts Academy, and fought with a broken arm.
The hardcore fanbase couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened had UFC champion Daniel Cormier been in there as planned, and had not injured his leg. UFC president Dana White is among other things a hardcore fan, and wondered the same thing, in a post fight interview with Megan Olivi.
“I’m a firm believer in ring rust. Jon Jones looked rusty tonight and it was a really good thing for him that it was OSP tonight, the sixth-ranked guy, and not Cormier, because he was able to get some rounds under his belt, get in there and feel himself out. Now he knows what he has to do when he gets back in the gym.”
“Did Jon look like a world-beater?” said White at the post-fight press conference. “Did he look like the Jon Jones who many say is possibly the greatest ever? No, but he won tonight.”
For his part, Jones says he would have beaten Cormier, too, despite the 15 months of accumulated ring rust.
“I would have beat him up pretty good, because I am tuned up to be fighting Daniel Cormier,” said Jones, as transcribed by Chuck Mindenhal for MMA Fighting. “You know, all my techniques, the angles, the ideas. I’ve been working on Daniel Cormier for seven months, for over seven months.
“It’s like if you put the Patriots…I’m not even going to make a football analogy. I’ve been training for one fighter, and they threw me this taller, power-punching [fighter], switching stances. It just wasn’t what I was preparing for. So I believe I can beat Daniel Cormier right now, for sure. And I’m going to prove that as soon as possible.”
Jones will get his opportunity to prove it at UFC 200 on July 9, in what is widely believed will be the biggest card in the sport’s history.
And lastly, in all the talk about Jones, it is easy to overlook Ovince Saint Preux, who made Jones look all too human.
“OSP’s stock went up tonight, obviously,” said White. “He’s the #6 ranked guy in the world. He’s got heavy hands. He’s got an awesome chin. He did very well against a guy who many believe is on his way to being the greatest of all time.”