Twenty-nine-year-old former University of Tennessee linebacker Ovince Saint Preux is now part of the Ultimate Fighting Championship's light heavyweight (205-pound) division, according to a Sunday report from ProMMAnow.com.
The Strikeforce veteran is among those fighters making the transition to the UFC after the Zuffa-owned mixed martial arts promotion held their last event earlier this month in Oklahoma.
Saint Preux was asked if there was anyone in particular he was looking forward to fighting 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 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."
Saint Preux made his Strikeforce debut in April 2010 with a first round knockout victory over Chris Hawk. He proceeded to win his next four fights in Strikeforce, racking up victories over veterans such as Benji Radach and Abongo Humphrey.
In December 2011, Saint Preux lost his only fight in Strikeforce, dropping a unanimous decision to one of the most dangerous, respected and top-ranked fighters in the game, former champion Gegard Mousasi.
It was the perfect fight for Saint Preux at that particular stage of his development. He needed to face a high level opponent such as Mousasi to show exactly where he stood among the best in the world. He lost the fight, but it exposed the holes in his game that he needed to work on and develop.
It is exactly those type of situations that will either make or break fighters. Some learn and grow, others become discouraged and never fully recover mentally.
The proof is in the pudding as they say. Saint Preux returned to the cage nine months later, in August 2012, to face Strikeforce veteran TJ Cook of American Top Team. Cook came into the fight with a record of 12-4, having won nine of his 12 victories via knockout.
Saint Preux has never been scared to stand in the pocket and trade with veterans known for their heavy hands and knockout power. His tough chin and athleticism allow him to take a few to give a few and 99.9% of the time it pays off. And it paid off against Cook, with Saint Preux knocking him out 20-seconds into round three.
And now Saint Preux is headed to the UFC where he will be tested against the best of the best. It's the dream of everyone who gets into the sport of mixed martial arts. It's the final stop on the stairway to MMA heaven. It's where the men get separated from the champions.