Strikeforce light heavyweight Ovince St. Preux has spent the last eight months preparing for August 18th. The last time fans saw him inside the cage he was losing via decision to Gegard Mousasi at Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal. The defeat snapped an eight fight winning streak for the Knoxville, Tennessee resident who was well on his way towards title contention before that December night in San Diego.
“I’ve kept busy trying to fine tune my game and get better overall,” St. Preux told BJPenn.Com “I went down to Team Quest and helped Virgil Zwicker prepare for his last fight. I came back last week to train with Dan Henderson, Jesse Taylor, Virgil, Sokodjou and some of the bigger guys who are helping me prepare for my fight. I’ve been doing some cross training and working with their BJJ coach.”
When he wasn’t training or helping his teammates prepare for fights, St. Preux went on a hunting trip to Alabama with Alchemist President Lex McMahon and UFC Welterweight Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. The three men brought along some very special guests with them.
“It was really fun to be honest with you,” said OSP. “It was something that Lex and Stephen put together. A lot of the Marines come back and are trying to get used to being part of society again. These guys are all injured and we wanted to help boost their morale. The organization is called One Hero and it was a real honor to spend some time with them. They shared stories with us on how they were injured and I thought to myself they were lucky to be alive! They were telling us how happy they were to meet us, but I told them we were the lucky ones. These are the real tough guys, we have nothing on them.”
Sitting on the sidelines for such a long time is not something St. Preux is accustomed to. Before this eight month long layoff he had fought a total of 11 times from September of 2009 to December of 2011.
“I would love to be more active. I’d really like to fight every three or four months,” admitted the Miami, Fl native. “I’m not the boss, they tell me when I’m fighting and they presented a fight to me and I jumped all over it. I’ll take a fight anytime I get the chance, but I don’t make the rules. I wasn’t injured, I was actually looking for a fight in April, but it never materialized.”
Getting in the cage with a fighter of Mousasi’s stature can be a daunting task, but despite the outcome St. Preux believes he knows what went wrong and what he can do to insure his next fight has a better ending.
“I need to go in the cage and fight my fight,” St. Preux offered. “When I went in there against Mousasi I fought him inside the cage and inside my head at the same time. It was like I was fighting two people, you can see the difference in the second half of the fight from the first half. I was getting it handed it to me and when I realized that he wasn’t as tough as everyone made him out to be I was able to turn it around. He got his hand raised at the end of the night and I know I don’t want to go through that again. I need to prepare myself better mentally next time around.”
OSP will be facing 29-year-old, Belleview, Florida native T.J. Cook on the main card of Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman. This will be the third go around in the Strikeforce cage for Cook who lost his last fight to Trevor Smith in November of last year.
“I definitely know that he is a very well rounded fighter,” assessed St. Preux. “He has some power in his hands and has been around since 2002-2003. He has a record of 12-4 and he’s in the same situation that I’m in. He lost his last fight and needs a win. I think I’m bigger and definitely a lot stronger than he is. I also feel like I’m the more well-rounded fighter, but he knows how to fight and I expect him to be at his best.”
After Dan Henderson vacated the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight title to make his way back to the UFC the prevailing thought was that King Mo or Rafael Cavalcante would face off to determine a new champion, but as luck would have it both men were popped for performance enhancing drugs and are no longer options.
“As of right now the division is back in the same spot it was in when Henderson first left,” said the former University of Tennesee linebacker. “It’s wide open right now, especially with King Mo leaving and the suspension of Cavalcante. It opened the division up for everyone else, the top contender would probably be Mousasi, but he’s injured right now. I would like to think I could be in the title hunt with another three or four more wins.”
The fight everyone is talking about these days as far as Strikeforce is concerned will be for the Women’s Bantamweight championship with former champion Sarah Kaufman facing the sport’s newest sensation Ronda Rousey. OSP is anticipating a great fight between two of the best female fighters in the world.
“The main event is going to be extremely exciting,” said OSP. “Everyone knows that Kaufman has very good standup, but then you have Rousey who if she gets a hold of you you’re going on the ground. If that fight hits the canvas it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when she submits Kaufman. I haven’t seen Kaufman’s BJJ or anything, but Rousey is an absolute beast. Kaufman is a great fighter in her own right, but If Rousey gets her arm she’ll snap it off!”
With the loss to Mousasi behind him and eight months of preparation, OSP is looking forward to showing the fans he has grown as a fighter. He is not making any promises other than he knows he will be victorious at the end of his fight.
“Come fight night fans are going to see a better version of OSP,” said St. Preux. “Not necessarily a new me, but a fighter who isn’t going to hold anything back. I plan on going in there and pulling the trigger and putting on an exciting fight. I see my hand raised at the end; it doesn’t matter if it’s a knockout, submission or a decision. I just want to win and send the fans home happy.”Tags: Dan Henderson, Gegard Mousasi, Ovince St. Preux, Ronda Rousey, Sarah Kaufman, Strikeforce