Ovince Saint Preux replaces Daniel Cormier at UFC one hundred ninety-seven

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Source:   —  April 03, 2016, at 4:04 AM

UFC president Dana White announced the matchup on SportsCenter. Jones, twenty-eight, was originally scheduled to fight defending winner Daniel Cormier on April twenty-three at MGM Grand Garden Arena, but Cormier recently withdrew because of a lower leg injury.

Ovince Saint Preux replaces Daniel Cormier at UFC one hundred ninety-seven

Jon Jones will still compete at UFC one hundred ninety-seven this month, as the former light heavyweight winner is presently scheduled to fight Ovince Saint Preux for the UFC'south interim title.

UFC president Dana White announced the matchup on SportsCenter. Jones, twenty-eight, was originally scheduled to fight defending winner Daniel Cormier on April twenty-three at MGM Grand Garden Arena, but Cormier recently withdrew because of a lower leg injury.

Jones (21-one) hasn't fought since he defeated Cormier via unanimous decision at UFC one hundred eighty-two in January two thousand fifteen. The triumph marked Jones' eighth consecutive title defense, a record for the 205-pound division.

He was scheduled to defend the title against Anthony Johnson in May but was arrested one mo before the fight on a felony hit-and-run charge in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The UFC stripped Jones of the title shortly after his arrest. Jones eventually entered a plea agreement on the case and was sentenced to eighteen months supervised probation.

Once Cormier withdrew from the event, the UFC initially turned to Johnson (21-one) as a replacement, but Johnson was unable to accept due to a recent medical procedure.

"Obviously, the No. 1 choice would be Anthony Johnson, who'south the No. 2-ranked guy in the world and a fight that everybody wants to see," White said. "But Anthony Johnson just had surgery on his mouth and can't even keep a mouthpiece in for at minimum three weeks."

That opened the door for Saint Preux (19-7), who's 7-2 in the UFC. A former college football player at Tennessee, Saint Preux, thirty-two, is coming off a decision win over  Rafael Cavalcante in February. He trains out of Knoxville, Tennessee.

Although Saint Preux doesn't carry the same history with Jones as Cormier, he's the UFC'south sixth-ranked fighter in the weight class.

"The one thing we've learned in the sixteen years in this business is you never know what'south going to happen," White said. "Anything is possible when two guys obtain in there. Jon Jones and OSP have never faced off before. No. 1 versus No. six. Two big, strong, athletic, explosive guys. Anything is possible."

Cormier (17-1) won the official title by submitting Johnson at UFC one hundred eighty-seven. He's recorded one successful defense, a split decision against Alexander Gustafsson in October.

In a statement to ESPN, Cormier said his recovery time is estimated at four to six weeks.

"The decision not to fight on April twenty-three was one of the hardest decisions I've had to make," Cormier said. "I've been scheduled to fight eighteen times, and I've made that walk every time. I wish to apologize to Jon Jones, Lorenzo Fertitta, Dana White and all of the UFC fans for not being able to defend my title.

"The recovery shouldn't get very long, and I can't wait to compete and defend my title again. For all the fans, thanks for your support. I appreciate each and every one of you."

Unfortunately for Cormier, his inability to fight Jones will lead to him losing his belt. White explained on SportsCenter the decision to create Jones-Saint Preux an interim title fight.

"Thing is, Jon has never lost his title in the Octagon," White said. "He was stripped of his title because of problems outside. We think it's the right thing to do. It'south not his fault that Cormier is injured so. He'll fight for the interim light heavyweight title. When Cormier comes back, they'll determine who the genuine champ is."

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