Calling 2015 a rough year for Jon Jones would be an extreme understatement. Just days after defending his title for the eighth time against Daniel Cormier on Jan. 6, 2015, it was revealed that Jones tested positive for cocaine metabolites in a pre-fight drug screen. Then in April, Jones was involved in a hit-and-run accident that left the passenger of the other vehicle injured. At that point the UFC had no choice but to take drastic measures by stripping Jones of his title and suspending him from competition indefinitely.

Fast forward to today – almost one full year later – and the bulk of Jones’ legal issues are behind him and he is ready to get back to business. Originally slated to face now champion Cormier for the belt he never lost Jones will instead be fighting Ovince Saint Preux for the interim UFC light heavyweight title in the UFC 197’s main event.

Widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world before his suspension, Jones is one of the most complete fighters to ever compete inside the Octagon, but a year is a long time. Even though Jones has been training like a madman for months preparing for his return, it’s hard to mimic what happens when that cage door closes for real. If there were ever a time when Jones would be susceptible to an upset, it’s now.

Saint Preux isn’t the most complete fighter in the division, but his blend of physical gifts, athleticism and raw talent could prove to be a dangerous combination. If I’ve learned anything over the years watching MMA, it’s that no one is unbeatable. Sooner or later everyone gets caught and Saint Preux might just be the guy to catch Jones.

Set the Tone

One of Saint Preux’s biggest weapons heading into Saturday night is him activity level. Over the past year – while Jones has been suspended and dealing with legal issues – Saint Preux has fought three times. It is critical that Saint Preux come in and set the tone of the fight early and he needs to put pressure on the former champion.

Jones has too many weapons and is too versatile for Saint Preux on paper. But “cage rust” is a very real thing and it will take Jones as least a round to get comfortable in the fight. That is Saint Preux’s biggest opportunity.

Attack, Attack, Attack

Saint Preux is one of the best pure athletes in the division and his physicality can overwhelm opponents. Between his fluidity, speed and power Saint Preux can unload vicious and brutal attacks on his opponents if he is given even the smallest opening. Jones is a sound fighter but he can be hit and if Saint Preux catches him early he has the tools to finish the fight.

Throw Caution to the Wind

Honestly, Saint Preux has nothing to lose and everything to gain in this fight. A loss wouldn’t change his status in the rankings but a win would catapult him to the top of the division. Saint Preux needs to let that lack of pressure play to his favor. This is a great opportunity to take a chance he wouldn’t normally take to make something spectacular happen.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.