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Exclusive: Interview with new UFC light heavyweight Ovince Saint Preux

Photo by Jack Bratcher for ProMMAnow.com

Photo by Jack Bratcher for ProMMAnow.com

A recent report came out listing Strikeforce fighters that were headed to the UFC. One name glaringly missing from that list was former University of Tennessee linebacker Ovince Saint Preux who came up through the Strikeforce Challengers ranks and left of trail of knocked out, submitted and beaten veterans in his wake.

ProMMAnow.com (www.prommanow.com) can now confirm Ovince Saint Preux is a member of the UFC 205-pound roster. We talked with Saint Preux about the closing of the Strikeforce door and the opening of his UFC future, and why he thinks his name wasn’t on the recent list of fighters making the transition.

With the demise of Strikeforce, can you tell us what your plans are now?

My plans are to fight in the UFC and eventually become the light heavy weight champion there.

There has been a steady stream of Strikeforce fighters getting picked up by the UFC, however your name hasn’t been any of those reports – are you sure you’re contract option is being picked up by them?

Yeah, I’m sure. I’ve talked with Sean Shelby who is a UFC matchmaker and was the Strikeforce matchmaker – he told me personally that I’ll be in the UFC. I’ve also texted with Joe Silva and he said he was looking for a fight for me.

osp - silva

I know Ariel Helwani recently put out a “complete” list of Strikeforce fighters transitioning to the UFC and my name wasn’t on that list, but last week the UFC sent out an e-mail to all Strikeforce fighters who weren’t having their contracts picked up and I didn’t get that e-mail…

Do you know why Ariel Helwani didn’t include you on his list?

I honestly don’t know. You should ask him. Usually the media gets a partial idea of what’s going on and they run with it as the whole idea – that seems to be what normally happens at least. I know one time a reporter called me up and asked me what my thoughts were about “fighting King Mo now that the contract has been signed”. I had no idea what he was talking about. Same thing happened with me fighting Feijao. Funny thing is, no one knew that I almost fought Lorenz Larkin when Virgil Zwicker got pulled from the fight.

The media rarely has the whole picture…

That’s outstanding, when can we expect to see you in the Octagon?

Well Joe [Silva] says I’ll probably get a replacement/last minute fight first and then I’ll get put in the regular rotation. If there isn’t a replacement fight for me, then I’ll probably be scheduled in April.

Actually, I got offered a replacement fight recently but it didn’t pan out – so I’m just waiting my turn.

Is there anyone you’re looking forward to fighting in the UFC?

In Strikeforce, I had to fight everyone that was healthy. Then they started signing guys up for me to retire. Antwain Britt? After me, he left the division then left Strikeforce. Abongo? He hasn’t fought since me. Benji Radach? Retired. Joe Cason? Retired. TJ Cook? Retired. The only guy still around after fighting me is Mousasi – and he’s one of the best in the world; expect him to make some serious waves in the UFC.

I’m ready to fight anyone in the division. I think I’d like to fight everyone that won The Ultimate Fighter – cause I tried out for that show like three times and never got a chance. So Forrest [Griffin], Stephan [Bonner] & Ryan [Bader] – I’m coming for you guys! *laughs*

I’ve fought more times quicker than anyone else at this level, three times in seven weeks, I’m ready to do that again for sure. I only fought one time last year and that wasn’t due to an injury or anything – they just didn’t have fights for everyone. Now that I’m in the UFC, I want to fight every other month, if not faster. I’ve never been hungrier to win. I’ve never been more motivated and more excited about competing.

How do you feel about fighting on the biggest stage in the world?

You know, I asked my coach Eric Turner about fighting before my first fight as an amateur. We were sitting at the Golden Corral after making weight and I asked him how far could I go in this sport and he told me that I absolutely will be in the UFC if I stuck with this sport. He’s been preparing me for fighting in the UFC since the first time I stepped into the cage. So, in essence, I’ve been preparing for the UFC for the last 5 years.

How do I feel about it? I feel like it’s my time. Due to the sporadic nature of the Strikeforce shows, a lot of times I would go into the Strikeforce cage with some ring rust; which would take a round or two to shake off before I could really display my skills. If you watched Chris Leben’s last fight you could see a classic example of a fighter struggling with some ring rust. Chris is a great fighter and he just couldn’t get all the cylinders firing at the same time in his last fight – that’s how I’ve felt a couple times.

With the security of UFC fights and the incentives of fighting for the biggest show in the world, expect to see a bigger, better and more improved Ovince.

Now that you mention it, how do you feel about your time in Strikeforce?

I have nothing but good things to say about Strikeforce and Scott Coker. They always treated me great and I will always be grateful for all the awesome things they did for me and my career. I met some great people there and I still talk to a lot of them pretty regularly – Bob Cook (AKA head trainer), Shannon Knapp (Invicta President), etc. They took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity to excel, I ran with it but I’ll never forget what they did for me. Thank you guys from the bottom of my heart.

Also, no offense to my friend Tarec (Saffedine), but I’m going to be the biggest thing the Strikeforce Challengers series ever produced.

Any closing thoughts?

I just want the chance to show everyone why I’m one of the best Light Heavy Weight fighters around. I’m ready and I’m just waiting for my chance. I can’t wait to shock the world a couple times in the next few months. Get ready everybody, the UFC 205 division is about to get a lot more exciting – I guarantee it.

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