Jon Jones will remain on this month’s UFC 197 card, with UFC President Dana White announcing on ESPN’s SportsCenter Sunday evening that Ovince St. Preux has stepped up for that fight on three weeks notice.
White said Anthony “Rumble” Johnson was the top choice, but the top contender just had surgery on his mouth and isn’t able to step in on that short of notice.
Jones was left without a return opponent when Daniel Cormier was forced off the card Friday due to a leg injury. Jones said earlier Saturday he was willing to face any opponent the UFC wanted to give him, and the organization didn’t waste much time in obliging.
The returning former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion fights for the first time since getting stripped of the belt after his April 2015 hit and run accident in New Mexico.
St. Preux brings a 7-2 UFC mark into what will easily be his biggest career fight. He defeated Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante by decision in February despite suffering an injury early on in the bout, bouncing back from a loss to Glover Teixeira last August.
UFC 197 will remain on pay-per-view on April 23 with Jones-OSP set as the new main event. Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson defends his UFC Flyweight Championship against Henry Cejudo in the co-main event.
Penick’s Analysis: In a vacuum, it’s an interesting fight. St. Preux’s a talented fighter, and though he’s not anywhere near Jones’ level, short notice fights can be unpredictable. Of course, Jones should shine, and it should be a complete showcase with him just getting himself back into the cage after everything that’s happened in the last week, let alone the last year. From there the Cormier fight can come together whenever Cormier’s healthy, and Jones can try to once again prove himself superior as he did at UFC 182. It’s a no-lose spot for OSP, as he’s getting a fight and an opportunity he never would have gotten otherwise.
UPDATE: White also confirmed that the fight will be a five round bout for the Interim UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.
[Photo (c) Joshua Lindsey via USA Today Sports]