This time, the injury news ended up breaking right for Ovince Saint Preux.
Just a few weeks ago, Saint Preux believed he would be fighting Rafael Cavalcante in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night on FOX Sports 1 in Uberlandia, Brazil on Nov. 8. That wasn’t a bad fight for him against a ranked opponent and former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion.
Then, "Feijao" went down with an injury and Saint Preux was pitted against Francisco Barroso, a little-known Brazilian journeyman. Saint Preux is ranked No. 10 among 205-pound contenders and that matchup would have done little for him.
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Now, though, Saint Preux has found himself in arguably the biggest fight of his career. Jimi Manuwa broke his foot this week and Saint Preux was chosen to replace him in the UFC Fight Night main event next week against MMA royalty Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
"The opportunity in itself to fight him is a blessing," Saint Preux told FOX Sports on Wednesday night. "Just to fight a legend and by beating a legend, you could end up becoming one."
Saint Preux (16-6) has the perfect mindset after a disappointing performance against Ryan Bader in the UFC Fight Night Maine main event in August. Bader is ranked No. 8 among light heavyweight contenders and "Shogun" is No. 9. This is the former University of Tennessee football player’s chance to erase that setback and move up in the division.
The opportunity in itself to fight him is a blessing.
-Ovince Saint Preux on Mauricio Rua
"I tell people the number one thing about being a fighter, especially if you’re on a good winning streak, you get complacent," Saint Preux said. "If you’re supposed to work on 10 things, you end up just doing two or three of them. That happened to me."
Saint Preux, 31, had won five in a row heading into the Bader fight and his lone loss before that in the last four years was in Strikeforce to Gegard Mousasi, a longtime elite fighter. Being in there for five rounds against Bader was something Saint Preux believes he can build on. OSP has come late to the MMA party, only starting to train after his college football career. Bader was his first shot at a ranked fighter.
"It was a good learning experience," Saint Preux said. "I know what to expect now. I know I can stay in there with the best of them."
This week, Saint Preux left his gym in Knoxville, Tenn., for American Top Team Atlanta to work with the Lima brothers (Bellator MMA welterweight champion Douglas and Ultimate Fighter alum Dhiego), UFC bantamweight contender Raphael Assuncao, recent Battlegrounds MMA one-night tournament winner Roan "Jucao" Carneiro and fellow UFC prospect Clint Hester.
Training with talents like that can only help him heading into this huge fight. Saint Preux’s bout went from being an after-thought to a headliner and he wasn’t going to say no to a matchup with a former UFC and PRIDE champion.
"’Shogun’ has been in the game since before I ever thought anything about fighting," Saint Preux said. … "It was unexpected, but it’s good news."