Former Vol St. Preux to lead off UFC 171

NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 27:   (L-R) Ovince Saint Preux kicks Gian Villante in their light heavyweight fight during the UFC 159 event at the Prudential Center on April 27, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC, 2013 Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 27: (L-R) Ovince Saint Preux kicks Gian Villante in their light heavyweight fight during the UFC 159 event at the Prudential Center on April 27, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Ovince Saint Preux has made it to the big time in mixed martial arts, but he hasn’t forgotten his roots as a University of Tennessee football player.

Saint Preux will be wearing UT colors Saturday night when he takes on Ukrainian fighter Nikita Krylov in the opening bout of the UFC 171 Pay Per View main card.

“Tell everybody to look for me in the Tennessee Orange fighting pants,” Saint Preux said Wednesday by telephone from Dallas, where the fights will take place in American Airlines Arena.

Saint Preux, a native of Immokalee, Fla., played defensive end for the Vols (2001-04) and started his career in MMA about six years ago under the tutelage of Eric Turner, who continues to coach him.

Saint Preux, who trains at the Knoxville Martial Arts Academy, stays connected to the UT football program.

“I’m still over in the weight room working out from time to time,” he said. “I was just at the opening (spring) practice the other day. I’m a true VFL (Vol For Life) at heart.

Saint Preux’s record in MMA is 24-5, which includes a 10-0 amateur record and 14-5 record as a professional. In his last two fights, Saint Preux is 2-0, both in UFC, the highest level of MMA.

“I’m definitely excited,” Saint Preux said. “I was in a position where I guess I didn’t know what I was getting into when I first started, and just given the fact that I made it this far is a blessing in itself, because a lot of guys have been in this sport a lot longer than I have and haven’t made it to where I’ve made it.”

Krylov, nicknamed “Al Capone,” is 16-3-0 as a pro. He is coming off a knockout at the 25-second mark of the first round of his last fight against heavyweight Walt Harris.

“He’s only 22 (years old),” Saint Preux said of Krylov. “He’s pretty good. I think probably 14 of his wins have come by knockout, so it definitely tells you it’s going to be a tough challenge for me, but if you’re fighting within the UFC, nothing’s going to come easy. Everything’s going to be a pretty good challenge.”

In his most recent fight last August, Saint Preux scored a knockout at 2:07 of the first round against Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt Cody Donovan.

“I didn’t knock him out standing up,” Saint Preux said. “I knocked him out actually in his guard (a hold on the mat). I just kind of postured up, and when I postured up, I just threw a couple of left hands, and I knew after the first one landed, I was waiting for the ref to come get me off him.”

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Comments » 3

CASEXX writes:

To each his own but I just don't get any kind of "sport" that the objective is to knock your opponent unconscious.

4points writes:

Coach Jones needs to make sure every recruit out there knows about OSP. UFC is huge with kids, and its very cool to see a VFL at such a high level in the UFC.

OSP is one of those freaks of nature. His UT career was not remarkable, but he started to work his tail off, and now is in the best condition of his life.

Other fighters will be more technically sound but Ovince will be the superior trained athlete in most every fight he enters.

He is one of those "freaks" athletes, gifted with both speed and power.

Ovince is also a soft spoken, quiet gentleman. Someone the University should be proud to represent the Vols.

UFC might not be your cup of tea, and I understand that..but rooting for OSP is a good thing. :)

bUTch__please writes:

If I remember correctly, St Preux didn't make a dimple in the water until he was a Senior...
...then it was WHO IS THIS GUY? WOW! HE'S a SENIOR??????

Glad he's a VFL. Thanks for the post 4points.

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