UFC 197: Jones vs. Saint Preux
Looking for UFC 197 Picks? You’ve come to the right place! Jon Jones, widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet returns to the Octagon the Saturday – unfortunately he won’t be stepping back inside the Octagon with his arch-nemesis Daniel Cormier – injury has knocked Cormier out of one of the more anticipated fights on the UFC docket.
Event: UFC 197: Jones vs. Saint Preux
Date: April 23, 2016
Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas
Broadcast: Pay-Per-View, Fox Sports 1, UFC Fight Pass
The show must go on – Ovince Saint Preux has stepped in to take Jones on for the interim Light Heavyweight belt Saturday and likely to become Jones’ sacrificial lamb. Demetrious Johnson will defend his flyweight strap against Henry Cejudo in the co-main event in a fight in which another of the UFC’ pound-for-pound best gets to show his stuff. And a Lightweight bout between Anthony Pettis and Edson Barboza promises fireworks!
All in all it should be an intriguing card to say the least! Let’s take a look at every fight and break down who should emerge victorious in all.
UFC 197 Main Card (10 PM ET, PPV)
Jon Jones (21-1-0): -550 vs. Ovince Saint Preux (19-7-0): +375
Jon Jones is widely regarded as the best fighter in the world – over a year away from the fight game only adds to the intrigue of his bout on Saturday night. Jones will have an immense reach advantage, height advantage, wrestling advantage and big-fight experience advantage – what’s not to like. Oh ya – he will have the motivation advantage as well – Jones will have to win convincingly in order to remain relevant in the pound-for-pound conversation.
Don’t get me wrong – Ovince Saint Preux is a dangerous guy – a former NCAA Division I football player, he has the athleticism to hang with almost anybody – almost!
Saint Preux has OK striking, OK wrestling and some pretty good power. His speed and athleticism should be enough to make this a bit of a fight at least. But OK and pretty good aren’t likely to be enough to get it done against one of the most gifted MMA fighters in the world.
I expect Jones to take this fight to the mat (Saint Preux’s only chance is if this fight remains on its feet). Once there, Jones’s insane ground and pound could take over. If this fight stays on the feet I expect Jones to be equally effective. Keep in mind he had been training for a fight against Cormier – he will be in tip-top shape for sure. Translation Saint Preux doesn’t have a chance.
MMA Betting Pick: Jon Jones -550
Demetrious Johnson (23-2-1): -400 vs. Henry Cejudo (10-0-0): +300
The unquestioned ruler of the UFC Flyweight Division Demetrious Johnson is back in action Saturday looking to dispatch yet another challenger to a title he’s held since September, 2012. His opponent – former Olympic Gold medalist in freestyle wrestling Henry Cejudo who has 10 fights in his career and 10 impressive wins.
While Cejudo’s run has been impressive indeed there is absolutely no planning for the speed, the power and the all-around prowess of Demetrious Johnson. There is nobody like Johnson on the planet! He is arguably the most dominant champion in UFC History.
I suppose we could see a Rhonda Rousey-type upset here but Cejudo’s lack of overall experience and Johnson’s absolute edge in nearly every aspect of this fight has me looking at the champ to do what he does. Cejudo’s wrestling will only come into play if he can catch Johnson – I don’t see that happening!
MMA Betting Pick: Demetrious Johnson -400
Edson Barboza (16-4-0): +145 vs. Anthony Pettis (18-4-0): -175
Former UFC Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis will try to get back on track Saturday night and snap a two fight losing streak when he takes on Edson Barboza who has been one of the tougher fighters to figure out the last couple of years – so good at times and so pedestrian at others.
Pettis will bring his terrific all-around game into the Octagon – he is stellar both on the ground and on the mat. Barboza will have to rely on his striking – his power game HAS to be on display for him to have a chance here. Believe me – anything is possible when looking at the tape of both of these fighters the last year or so.
My guess is that Pettis rights the ship in this one – he’s too good to slip down the Lightweight ranks any more. Barboza on the other hand is just too inconsistent for me to throw my support behind. Pettis is the better fighter – period, and with his back firmly against the wall won’t be denied.
MMA Betting Pick: Anthony Pettis -175
Rafael Natal (21-6-1): +265 vs. Robert Whittaker (16-4-0): -350
Up and coming Middleweights do battle in the second bout on the Pay-per-view card Saturday when stud boxer and The Ultimate Fighter winner Robert Whittaker takes on well- rounded veteran Rafael Natal.
Whitaker should be on a path to stardom but draws a ho-hum opponent in this one – he will need to make a statement in order for the UFC brass to finally give him his due. I think he does just that – his striking is off-the-charts – way too much to handle for a still-decent veteran Natal.
The only way that Natal wins is if he can drag this fight to the mat and turn it into a snooze-fest. I can’t see that happening. There’s too much on the line for the Aussie Whittaker who gets it done in scintillating fashion Saturday. Whittaker WILL BE on the Middleweight map finally for all you fight fans!
MMA Betting Pick: Robert Whittaker -350
Andre Fili (15-3-0): +125 vs. Yair Rodriguez (6-1-0): -155
An intriguing Featherweight bout opens the Pay-per-view card Saturday when Latin America TUF Season 1 winner Yair Rodriguez tries to keep his roll going against the always-tough Andre Fili. It is the brawler Rodriguez versus the athletic, well-rounded Fili. Simply put, this fight could go either way.
I’m going with the experience of Fili in this one – Rodriguez is still a tad green and relies a whole lot on emotion and the ability to draw his opponents into brawls. Fili likely won’t fall into that trap! Expect the more experienced underdog to dictate the pace and utilized a more diverse and developed set of skills to get the better of his Mexican foe. It’s going to be a fun battle in which Fili should come out on top.
MMA Betting Pick: Andre Fili +125
UFC 197 Preliminary Card (8 PM ET, FS1)
Chris Kelades (9-2-0): +185 vs. Sergio Pettis (13-2-0): -215
MMA Betting Pick: Sergio Pettis -215
Danny Roberts (12-1-0): -365 vs. Dominique Steele (13-6-0): +255
MMA Betting Pick: Danny Roberts -365
Carla Esparza (10-3-0): -185 vs. Juliana Lima (8-2-0): +160
MMA Betting Pick: Juliana Lima +160
Glaico Franca (14-3-0): +150 vs. James Vick (7-0-0): -175
MMA Betting Pick: Glaico Franca +150
UFC 197 Preliminary Card (6:30 PM ET, Fight Pass)
Cody East (12-1-0): -155 vs. Walt Harris (7-4-0): +135
MMA Betting Pick: Cody East -155
Clint Hester (11-5-0): +115 vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima (13-3-1): -135
MMA Betting Pick: Clint Hester +115
Efrain Escudero (25-10-0): +275 vs. Kevin Lee (11-2-0): -335
MMA Betting Pick: Kevin Lee -335