One to Watch: Ovince Saint Preux vs. Volkan Oezdemir

Looking to rebound from his devastating loss against Jimi Manuwa, Ovince Saint Preux has a point to prove against Swiss newcomer Volkan Oesdemir.

by Jake Hughes
Feb 2 2017, 8:02pm

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

Valentina Schevchenko stole the show last week at UFC Fight Night 103 and the UFC is back for its first run of shows to be held on consecutive weekends on Saturday night , starting off at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

It's a cause for celebration: UFC Fight Night: Bermudez vs. Korean Zombie (otherwise known as UFC Fight Night 104) sees the return of fan favorite Chan Sung Jung—"Korean Zombie" to most—in his first fight in the Octagon since 2013 as he returns from his mandatory military service in South Korea.

Alongside the featherweight main event between Jung and Dennis "The Menace" Bermudez, the fight card is teeming with intrigue thanks to fights such as Jessica Andrade vs. Angela Hill, Abel Trujillo vs. James Vick and a heavyweight tilt between Anthony Hamilton and Marcel Fortuna.

But it's the fight between former UFC light heavyweight interim title challenger Ovince Saint Preux and Swiss newcomer Volkan Oezdemir which looks primed to rival the main event.

The fight wasn't set up conventionally—Polish veteran Jan Blachowicz was the man originally handed the task to take on Saint Preux, who is perhaps better known by his shortened acronymic moniker "OSP." But, Blachowicz was forced to pull out of the fight on January 21st with an injury.

What makes this story all the more intriguing is the fact Oezdemir was readying to weigh in for a Titan FC bout until the promotion's COO Lex McMahon scrapped the fight in order to shop the fighter's services to the UFC.

As relayed to Marc Raimondi for MMAFighting, McMahon was more than happy dismantle his co-headline fight for the benefit of his fighter. "We have this tagline at Titan: fans, fighters first," McMahon said. "There comes a time when you have to be more than just marketing. You have to mean what you say."

"I felt that Volkan really had an opportunity to get to the UFC if he had a good performance," McMahon said. "Just because of circumstance, he really wasn't getting that chance.

"He deserved the opportunity, man. That's the bottom line. I thought he really deserved the opportunity."

With a record of 12-1—one that includes ten first round finishes, nine of which by knockout—Oezdemir may be an unknown quantity to those following the UFC alone, but he has built quite the reputation on both the European circuit and in the USA with his two Bellator appearances.

On paper, this fight could look hurriedly put together—typical of a last-minute redeployment—and you could even perhaps call it a mismatch, given OSP's experience against the level of fighter provided on the UFC roster. But, with Oezdemir's striking abilities and penchant for knockouts, the Swiss could well pose a big problem for OSP.

Saint Preux has endured a tough time in the sport of later with his last two performances seeing him drop a decision against the returning Jon Jones in a contest for the interim UFC light heavyweight title, before suffering a knockout at the hands of British brawler Jimi Manuwa at UFC 204. There is no shame in losing to Jones like OSP had—especially given the broken arm he suffered early in the fight—but the Manuwa loss would have been a bitter pill to swallow.

OSP started life in the UFC on a tear—winning his first four fights in the promotion after being acquired by the UFC in the Strikeforce merger. He made his name a mainstay in the light heavyweight division once he demolished Mauricio "Shogun" Rua by KO in an impressive comeback bout following a dull decision loss to Ryan Bader last time out.

However, with three losses in his last four fights, this slump in form has provided OSP plenty food for thought as he looks to kickstart his career once again.

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