The UFC is heading to New England to bring fight fans UFC Fight Night 47 live from Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, Maine. Headlining the night’s card is a light heavyweight matchup between former Arizona State wrestling All-American Ryan Bader (17-4) and the surging Ovince St. Preux (16-5)
Bader, currently the ninth-ranked light heavyweight according to the official Power MMA fighter rankings, is coming off a dominant decision victory over Rafael ‘Feijao’ Cavalcante at UFC 174 in June. Prior to this win, ‘Darth’ came out on top against Anthony Perosh at UFC Fight Night 33 last December. This gives him a record of 3-1 in the last 20 months, with his lone loss coming against former title contender Glover Teixeira in the main event of UFC Fight Night 28.
St. Preux, currently unranked, is coming off a second-round submission victory over Bader’s Power MMA teammate Ryan Jimmo. Prior to this win, OSP picked up stoppage victories of Nikita Krylov, Cody Donovan and Gian Villante. His four straight wins under UFC banner trail only UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones for longest in the division.
Bader is the true definition of a fighter with one-punch knockout power. In fact, his three UFC knockout victories stemming from a single punch landed at distance are tied for the second most in UFC light heavyweight history.
Relying heavily on his powerful right, the Arizona native has scored six knockdowns inside the octagon, tied for the fifth most in UFC divisional history. While he has thrown a hard right cross, he will often set up his opponent with a quick left hook, followed by a lunging overhand aimed at the temple of his opponent. Using this method to put away fighters like Vinny Magalhães and Jason Brilz, it is no secret Bader’s favorite weapon is his sledgehammer of a right hand.
However, if that initial left hook connects with his opponent’s chin, Bader may not have to follow-up with the overhand right. Against Keith Jardine, who was reeling from a straight right-flying knee combination, Bader separated the ‘Dean of Mean’ from his senses with a looping left hook to the chin. This is the same punch that sent former IFL champion Vladmir Matyushenko tumbling to the canvas.
St. Preux, a southpaw, has the raw power to put anybody away but is much more inexperienced with the striking aspect of MMA. That said, he knows how to use every inch of his astounding 80-inch reach as he peppers his opponents with straight jabs just outside of their boxing range in order to set up a powerful left uppercut or overhand left. This more often than not catches his opponents off guard and open to a flurry of strikes
However his best tool is most certainly his kicks, which of course is common for almost every fighter with such a massive length advantage. As his opponents look for a way to get past his reach, St. Preux will often unload a roundhouse kick to the midsection or head. Utilizing this technique, St. Preux broke Jimmo’s arm after he attempted to block an ‘OSP’ head kick.
Defensively, both men have been known to get sloppy. However, Bader’s head movement and footwork has grown leaps and bounds since boxing guru Jose Benavidez joined the Power MMA fight team. OSP also has tendency to leave his chin up when throwing those long punches, which could leave him open for one of Bader’s overhand rights
As an All-American wrestler out of ASU, it should be no surprise Bader’s grappling skills have carried him to some of the most impressive victories of his career. Bader’s 30 takedowns landed in UFC light heavyweight competition are the fourth most in divisional history. Combine this with an average of 3.53 takedowns per 15 minutes of fighting — the highest rate among active light heavyweights — and second-highest in UFC divisional history, and it’s safe to assume Bader will be looking to bring the fight to the canvas as often as possible.
Once his opponents are on the canvas, Bader does a tremendous job of maintaining control as he rains down blows from within his opponent’s guard. In his bout against Perosh, Bader controlled 12 minutes of the contest while landing 156 strikes, most of which were from the top position. To put those numbers into perspective, Perosh controlled a grand total of 19 seconds while landing a total of 11 strikes. If they turtle up in hopes of avoiding anymore damage to their head, Bader will unload a barrage of strikes to the side of their head and midsection.
St. Preux, on the other hand, uses his long and muscular frame to drag his opponents down with a trip from within the clinch or pressed against the cage. While he’s not nearly as polished with his takedown offense, St. Preux’s unorthodox style of grappling has helped him secure 12 of 20 takedowns attempts under UFC and Strikeforce banners.
But this is Bader’s bread and butter and it will be hard pressed to find a fighter in the division who can keep up with him in terms of pure wrestling.
Bader needed just 50 seconds to lock on a unique arm-across guillotine against Vladimir Matyushenko at UFC on FOX 6. This performance not only earned him a Submission of Night bonus but also gave the fastest submission victory in modern UFC light heavyweight history.
Not to be out done, St. Preux locked on the second ever Von Flue choke in UFC history when he tapped out Nikita Krylov at UFC 171. This win, which came at 1:29 mark of Round 1, gave St. Preux the fourth fastest submission victory in UFC light heavyweight history.
With only three combined submission victories under the UFC banner between these two men, this is by far the most difficult aspect of the fight game to judge in this bout. Bader will no doubt be looking to grab a hold of St. Preux’s neck throughout the fight in hopes of locking on an arm triangle or guillotine. However, St. Preux was fought in some pretty tight submission against Judo black belt Gegard Mousasi and managed to work himself free every time.
If I was in St. Preux’s corner, the first thing I would tell him would be avoid throwing kicks whenever possible. He tends to telegraph these types of strikes and a fighter with the wrestling credentials of Bader will most certainly look to snatch one of his leg mid-kick and drop him onto the canvas. But if Bader can’t land the big takedown like he has in his last two bouts, he had better keep chin down in order to avoid the looping power shots from St. Preux.
In the end, Bader’s experience and vastly superior wrestling should be the deciding factor. Don’t get me wrong, St. Preux is a phenomenal talent and has a very bright future in this sport. But this is his first opponent ranked within the top 15, let alone the top 10. In contrast, Bader has faced three former UFC champions and one current champion since being crowned The Ultimate Fighter season 8 champion in 2008. Expect takedowns early and often in this bout as Bader puts on yet another wrestling clinic as he picks up his third straight victory.
Bader via Round 3 TKO
Here are the rest of my predictions for the main card and preliminary bouts:
Main Card (FOX Sports 1, 10 p.m. ET)
- Gray Maynard def. Ross Pearson
- Brad Tavares def. Tim Boetsch
- Seth Baczynski def. Alan Jouban
- Shawn Jordan def. Jack May
- Thiago Tavares def. Robbie Peralta
Prelim Card (FOX Sports 2, 8 p.m. ET)
- Zach Makovsky def. Jussier Formiga
- Sara McMann def. Lauren Murphy
- Tom Watson def. Sam Alvey
- Frankie Saenz def. Nolan Ticman