What’s your reaction to Jon Jones fighting Ovince St. Preux at UFC 197 with Daniel Cormier out injured, and that fight being for an Interim Title?
MICHAEL BANE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I’m disappointed that we won’t be seeing Jon Jones take on the guy that picked up the title he managed to throw away. Besides the fact Daniel Cormier is a superior fighter to Ovince St. Preux, it’s a grudge match that has some legitimate heat behind it. Having said that, it’s nice to see Jones sticking around on the card. While OSP has the height and reach that comes closes to anyone matching Jones as anyone has, this is a great chance for the former champ to make a statement by obliterating the first competition he’s had in over a year.
Anthony Johnson was always the first choice when Cormier got hurt. Not only is he next in line for a title shot after Cormier and Jones finish their business, it would be the fight Jones was supposed to have anyway before he was stripped of the title for almost taking out a pregnant woman in yet another driving incident. Johnson had gone on record as saying he was ready to step in for Jones if his latest trip-up was going to keep him from making UFC 197, so it was somewhat surprising when news came he couldn’t replace Cormier due to recent mouth surgery.
There just weren’t a lot of viable opponents left after Rumble dropped out of the running. Even taking heavyweights into account, if you go down the list of the UFC rankings you’ll find fighters who are already scheduled for something or people that Jones has already fought and beaten. St. Preux was the highest ranked light heavyweight that didn’t fall into that category, with number eight ranked Mark Hunt being the top heavyweight option. As much as I would love to see Hunt try to knock Jones’s head off, OSP is probably the right call under these circumstances. It’s a great opportunity for him, as a fight with Jones, or even for the 205 pound belt, looked unlikely in his future.
As far as the fight being for an Interim Title, it neither adds nor detracts from the fight for me. This is mostly a marketing maneuver, but it is one that makes some sort of sense with how Jones has never actually been beaten for the belt. If Cormier doesn’t heal up as quick as expected, it will also serve the purpose of making Jones the champion and keeping the division moving. Interim titles are a useful tool in creating meaningful fights and discouraging fighters from sitting out for long periods of time to hold out for title shots. The UFC would be well served to create some hard and fast criteria for when an interim title will be contested. It would give the belt more value to fighters, as well as making it look more legitimate in the eyes of fans who are paying attention.
CASH NORMAN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
After initially learning that Daniel Cormier would be unable to fight and Jon Jones calling out any light heavyweight or heavyweight via social media, I thought that maybe the UFC might schedule him against a lower ranked heavyweight. However, I was surprised to learn Jones next opponent would be Ovince St. Preux. My first thoughts were this fight would be a tune up fight for Jones. Although, I still believe Jones will win this match, I would not be surprised if the first round was actually competitive. OSP is a really good fighter who has been steadily making improvements with each fight. I still have questions on OSP’s striking and his stamina and think it would benefit him to train at a larger fight camp. Remember OSP is still explosive and uses some unorthodox strikes.
When I heard it was for an interim title, I literally rolled my eyes. The UFC’s inability to adequately promote a fight without a title being on the line is worrisome. They are habitually creating titles that aren’t worth anything. Jon Jones never truly lost the light heavyweight title and some may argue that the belt Daniel Cormier holds is the interim light heavyweight title. Now the UFC will create an Interim Interim Light Heavyweight Title? Ok that makes sense.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Well, it sucks that Cormier got hurt, but OSP is a fairly good replacement, especially on short notice. I am surprised that this fight is for the Interim Title because I’m surprised the UFC would be this blatant. It’s pretty obvious that they think Jones will roll over OSP, which most would agree with. However, the UFC is the promoter so I would think that they would try to play up OSP’s chances against Jones. Ultimately, it’s a bad situation and the UFC is making the best of it that they can. You never want injuries to happen, but at least in this case there was enough time to find a replacement.
BRAD WALKER, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
First of all the interim title is so stupid in this case. By the time it’s ready to be defended Cormier will be back and ready to go, making it basically a marketing ploy as champion vs champion when the two meet in the future. In regards to OSP, I’m on the level of “meh” it’s not a great booking but it’s a fight that isn’t completely ludicrous, only partially. OSP isn’t going to test Jones like others have, but he has enough talent to make the fight entertaining, but not an all time great unless he really over achieves.
DAYNE FOX, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Major disappointment as I was very much looking forward to Jones and Cormier settling their differences in the cage. Jones was likely to destroy Cormier who has proven himself to be the second best 205 pound fighter in the world. Now I can only imagine what he’ll do to OSP, as St. Preux is the easiest opponent Jones has faced since Chael Sonnen. Anyone remember how easily Jones dispatched the Gangster from West Linn? OSP is more physically talented than Sonnen, but he doesn’t have the same fight IQ. I commend OSP for stepping up, but this is going to be bad.
I understand Dana White’s reasoning for making the fight an Interim Title fight since Jones never truly lost his title, but I still disagree with the idea. Jones doesn’t need a title to prove that he is the greatest fighter in the world and he’ll probably get the real belt come his next fight anyway. Then again, I also get that the UFC is trying to expand their territory further into the mainstream realm and that means playing by a new set of rules that the traditional fanbase will have to adjust to… whether we like it or not. Sure, we know that this title is pointless. But does the Joe Schmo who enjoyed the last UFC pay-per-view and is considering buying this one? Of course not. All he is going to see is two title fights instead of one. What he doesn’t understand about the sport he makes up for in basic math knowledge by knowing that two is more than one which will likely influence him to buy the pay-per-view more than a single title fight.
[Photo (c) Joshua Lindsey via USA Today Sports]
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