MMA Coach’s Corner: Healthy Saint Preux sidelined by injuries that are not his own

Ovince St. Preux UFC 159
Ovince Saint Preux gets his hand raised in his UFC debut at UFC 159. Coach Eric looks on.

Ovince Saint Preux has had 3 fights in 24 months and he’s been healthy the entire time. In 2012 he was the victim of the collapse of Strikeforce, fighting only 1 time that year. This year, he has fought twice for the UFC – defeating both of his opponents, but a third fight has yet to materialize due to injuries within his division.

“I don’t know what to say” says Saint Preux, “Joe [Silva] will call and ask if I’d be ok fighting person X and I’ve yet to say ‘no’ and yet here I am without an opponent.”

The first opponent to turn down a fight with Saint Preux was vaunted top fighter Mr Wonderful Phil Davis. Ovince was asked to fight him on the Dec.28th show in Las Vegas, NV; Saint Preux accepted, Davis had a knee injury. The second opponent was Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante for Jan. 15th in Atlanta, another injury. The third opponent was Thaigo Silva. Silva initially agreed and then pulled out the next day citing a staph infection. A fourth opponent, Fabio Maldanado, who recently called out a step up in competition, is also injured and cannot compete.

So here Saint Preux sits, on the sidelines waiting for someone to get healthy. For those saying that it’s giving him time to hone his skills, that’s certainly a way to look at it. From 0 roadwork in his fight with Gian Villante, to more than 40 miles a week now he’s stepped up his cardio training. From 0 time spent working on his Muay Thai he now trains regularly with famed Muay Thai specialist Manu Ntoh. From 0 time spent in the boxing gym to now working with the best in Tennessee John Foust. His S & C coach Nate Hoffmeister has said his biometrics have never looked better and he’s eating up everything that Nate can throw at him. Saint Preux has stepped up his training even as fights have become more and more scarce. However, no matter how much you train, if you only fight every 6 months you’re going to be shaking off ring rust every time you step into the Octagon.

In the last 3 years, Ovince is 11-1 with his only loss coming to #9 ranked Gegard Mousasi. If the argument is he hasn’t fought the toughest competition, that might be fair except that he fought whoever he was asked to fight, whenever he was asked to fight and he was always begging for a fight. Some people may have forgotten that Ovince fought 3 times in 7 weeks, all on televised Strikeforce Cards – disposing of Antwain Britt, Benji Radach and Ron “Abongo” Humphrey (retiring both Radach and Abongo in that span!); he is a man possessed by the desire to fight.

So for all the fans out there that want to see Ovince take a step up in competition, just know that he’s desperately been trying to do that. “I said it before and I’ll say it again, if I can put my hands on someone I honestly think I can KO anyone in the UFC Light Heavy Weight division. For fellow 205’ers looking for a fight, look no further. Call Joe and make it happen! I’m healthy, I’m ready and I want to fight everyone in the way between me and Jon Jones. According to MMA Matrix, I’m ranked #27 – Matt Hamill is ranked #26. Someone get Matt on the TDD and let’s make that fight happen ASAP!”

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