London’s own Jimi Manuwa vs Ovince Saint Preux is one of the most underrated and overlooked fights on the stacked card that is UFC 204: Bisping vs Henderson. Culminating in one of the most explosive and intriguing fights in the 205lb division in recent memory.
To compare these two fantastically exciting fighters is not difficult and whilst they are comparable in athletic gifts they also mirror each other coming up short against the elite of the light heavyweight division as of late unfortunately.
Both fighters are feared strikers in their own right with each of them packing a tremendous amount of power in both their punches and kicks proven by their combined 22 knockouts. While both found great success in their early career outside of the UFC against lesser competition by taking advantageous of their athletic prowess, they are now forced to adapt and expand their technical arsenal as well as being mindful to adopt specific game plans against different fight styles, as evident in Anthony Johnson’s recent title loss against now interim champ Daniel Cormier, having ridiculous speed and punching power simply isn’t enough at the upper echelon.
As well as sharing similar physical attributes both fighters are coming off losses in their UFC tennure and will be looking to put on a memorable performance to cement their position within lower half of the top 10 in an extremely competitive division.
OVINCE SAINT PREUX OVERVIEW
Ovince is an exciting striking based fighter who developed his game throughout the American midwest regional circuits before staking his claim in Strikeforce where he compiled a 4 fight win streak before coming up short against MMA veteran Gregard Mousasi who is also fighting on tomorrow’s main card.
His unorthodox stance switching hands-down style has helped him rack up many a knockout in his MMA career with notable finishes in the UFC against Shogun Rua, Patrick Cummins and most recently a decision against Feijão.
Ovince uses his large frame and distance to control the fight whilst hammering powerful southpaw power kicks to his opponents mid section. Whilst far from technically sound on the feet OSP more than makes up for his lack of striking finesse with his natural athleticism. Although not completely one dimensional against Patrick Cummins we saw a noticeable improvement in OSP’s take down defence and more specifically his scrambling ability, whilst his wrestling defence is unlikely to be tested against Manuwa he would be wise to employ some takedowns of his own.
OVINCE SAINT PREUX KEYS TO VICTORY
Ovince coming off a decision loss to kingpin Jon Jones would be wise to use his high level experience against the lesser experienced Manuwa which he can do via not limiting this match to a striking affair. If he is to consistently come out on top in striking exchanges in this match up he would be wise to test the takedown defence of Manuwa. Even if Manuwa can get back to his feet Ovince would be foolish to let Manuwa get into rhythm on the feet which is where he is most dangerous.
Ovince should use his constant movement to circle from the cage to ensure Manuwa doesn’t utilise his clinch against the cage. He can do this by keeping Manuwa out of boxing range with his long left body kick and at least throwing his rangy punches out there if not just to create space to circle.
The Poster Boy is an imposing striker for the 205lb division whilst not having the frame of fighters such as Ovince St Preux or against his most recent loss to Gustafsson he more than makes up for it holding power in all 8 of his limbs that he utilises with such fluidity.
Fighting out of London Jim Manuwa recorded 14 of his first MMA fights by finish with a massive 13 of those being knockout or technical knockouts. An interesting run in the UFC has been highlighted by his first three fights ending by TKO although its notable as two of these ended by way of his opponents leg injury though no doubt due to Manuwa’s ferocious clinch strikes against the cage.
Recently Manuwa has alternated losses to both Anthony Johnson and Gustafsson respectively with a victory over Jan Błachowicz sandwiched in-between. Even though he has lost both of these fights by way of knockout losing in a fire fight to both Rumble and Gustafsson is nothing to scoff at. Whilst a largely uneventful victory over Jan Blachowicz didn’t initially seem that impressive, that was until we saw Gustafsson employ a heavy wrestling gameplan against Blachowicz himself after getting tagged repeatedly on the feet.
JIMI “THE POSTER BOY” MANUWA KEYS TO VICTORY
Manuwa is a powerful stalking type of striker who isn’t afraid to initiate a clinch heavy based plan where he delivers his powerful strikes in close. Whilst he is not unaccustomed to standing in the middle of the ring and throwing heavy strikes he is also comfortable pressing his foe against the cage dishing out a healthy supply of knees both to the body and the legs.
Jimi has an explosive first round in which is he certainly most dangerous highlighted by his 10 first round finishes in his short career. Though as displayed in the 3 round affair with Blachowicz he did display good pacing as well as a more than passable gas tank. Jimi would be wise to use this initial onslaught to set up big strikes in the first round which will keep Ovince on the back foot. Precise footwork will be needed to cut Ovince off and land big strikes in an effort to push OSP against the cage. He needs to continue this smart pressure to avoid Ovince being able to circle and get into rythm with his awkward movement based style.
Jimi has a killer left hook which has been the staple of several of his knockouts during his career and he would be wise to use it regularly in this fight. Though it is a more difficult punch to land against a southpaw fighter he can allow it to set up the rest of his boxing as well as his power right kick both to the body and the legs.
This is most certainly an uphill battle for Manuwa and it is reflected with the bookies as most sportsbooks currently have Manuwa at a +2.40 underdog. His chin has unfortunately been his downfall against two other notable strikers in his division. Though Ovince does not have the near the technical striking of either Gustassfon or Rumble Johnson he most certainly packs enough power and speed.
Manuwa has the tools to win but he must fight a smart fight and force his offense upon Ovince without succumbing to the takedown or the elusive and unorthodox movement of Ovince.
YOUBETYAH’s pick – Jimi Manuwa takes a unanimous decision.
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