MMA Coach’s Corner: An inside look at Ovince Saint Preux’s UFC Fight Night 26 victory

Ovince Saint Preux talks with Joe Rogan following his knockout win over Cody Donovan at UFC Fight Night 26 in Boston. Coach Eric Turner looks on.
Ovince Saint Preux talks with Joe Rogan following his knockout win over Cody Donovan at UFC Fight Night 26 in Boston. Coach Eric Turner looks on.

After Vince’s last fight with Gian Villante, we as a camp had a deep certainty that the fight Vince had wasn’t anywhere close to the best fight Vince had inside of him, and so we set about radically reshaping the training going into his next camp.

We had a big sit-down meeting with everyone in the camp [myself (Coach Turner), Coach Joey, Nathan Hoffmeister (S&C), Ovince Saint Preux and Taylor Turner (dietician)], discussed what needed to happen going forward and everyone got on board 100% with the direction we decided to move.

The first couple weeks were pretty rough as we set a very grueling pace to really push Vince’s cardio, but true to his form he didn’t complain once about what we were trying to accomplish with him. Vince really is a very professional fighter, he might not always like the brutal training regimes we set for him but he’d rather die than not complete them.

Also, I honestly can’t give enough credit to Nathan Hoffmeister for being so great about Vince’s S&C training. I got daily updates about what they did that day, along with bio-metric readouts and I also got weekly breakdowns of bio-metric increases and decreases. He really went above and beyond in this camp and I couldn’t more strongly recommend him to anyone/any camp out there that is looking to take their training to the highest level.

One of the biggest changes we did in this camp was that Vince began running 2-3 miles a day 3-4 days a week before he would start his S&C workouts. By the end of the camp, Vince was doing 3 miles 4-5 days a week at around 7-8 mph (which is really moving for a 205’er!) It was going so well that every day we were in Boston (the week of the fight and the weight cut) Vince would go on a 2-3 mile run just to get a sweat going… because he enjoyed it! When Vince says the best is yet to come for him, you better believe it.

Speaking of the best is yet to come…

A lot of fighters work incredibly hard to get the very best out of them and the very best fighter they can be makes it to the UFC. Vince worked incredibly hard, made it to the UFC but it was far from the best fighter he could be. I saw, in this camp, Vince demonstrate ***exponential*** growth in every facet of his training – cardio, strength, striking, wrestling, grappling – every area.

What’s even more frightening is that I believe this growth to be sustainable for the foreseeable future… meaning Vince should jump up in skills and abilities for quite a while. It’s like a switch went off inside of him and he’s found a whole new level that he didn’t know was there. Vince really means it when he says watch out to everyone in his division!

If some of you are familiar with my last blog from our weight cut week at the last UFC fight with Vince, then you’re probably expecting some crazy weight cut story here… sorry to disappoint you. Vince did a spectacular job staying on his diet, Taylor Turner tweaked the Dolce diet only slightly (to account for Vince’s likes and body type) and so going into the weight cut week Vince weighed in at only 219.2 (as compared to 226.8 last time).

Everyday of the weight cut except Friday (weigh in day), Vince had at least three meals with at least 40 oz. of liquid (sometimes tea, sometimes OJ, mostly water) AT EVERY MEAL. It was crazy how much food Vince was eating and STILL LOSING WEIGHT. We woke up on Friday morning at 209, sat in the sauna for about 30 min, took a long hot bath and we were on weight. It was unreal and I know Vince liked that he could eat so much (except the Spinach, raw Spinach is Vince’s enemy )

The game plan going into the fight was obviously to stay off the ground with Cody, who is very dangerous off his back. We worked a lot on being able to negate Cody’s strengths with movement, but we didn’t get off in time and it took us a little while to catch up to his speed – which looked improved.

To his credit, Cody had clearly studied tape on Vince and was implementing a good game plan. However, we knew that he knew Vince’s weakness and we were betting that he didn’t know that we knew that he knew… so it worked in our favor [that’s a complicated sentence and there mostly for fun, but it is very true].

Given that fact, we spent a lot of time ensuring that even if the takedown occurred, the initial reaction would be to pop back up as hard and quick as possible. We also spent a good amount of time on a pretty brutal drill/version of GnP, which clearly paid off for us.

All-in-all, this was the best camp of Vince’s life. It was one of the best performances of his life as well, but like I’ve said before: what we have done is of little significance to what we will do. The best is yet to come.

God bless you boys and girls!

-Coach Eric

Coach Eric Turner is the Head Instructor at Knoxville Martial Arts Academy in Knoxville, Tenn. He is the author of ProMMAnow.com’s “MMA Coach’s Corner,” a bi-weekly blog in which he shares insight and knowledge gleaned from his years training and working with fighters at all levels. You can learn more about Coach Turner and Knoxville Martial Arts Academy at www.knoxvillemartialartsacademy.com