The long view perspective isn’t anything new to Ovince Saint Preux.
From the early days of his Florida upbringing to the pursuit of his initial passion that played out later on in a Tennessee Volunteers football uniform, the journey of OSP has come equipped with an acute understanding that ground will be lost and gained at regular intervals.
Nevertheless, as long as the determination to push forward never ceases, the desired end result can always be found.
The foundation for that mindset was forged long ago and it is still one the 32-year-old mixed martial artist relies heavily on in the here and now.
“I’m not the type of person anyone is ever going to be able to break mentally,” Saint Preux said. “I’m just not that type of person. Playing football and wrestling definitely helped make me stronger in that aspect, but growing up in a Haitian household set the stage early. My mother was no joke, but she’d always build you back up after she broke you down. Growing up taught me so much about how to handle the road ahead.
“I came into this game not knowing anything about it. I have an athletic background, but fighting is an entirely different thing. But I’ve always been a hard worker and my work ethic has allowed me to develop at a steady rate. And I’m still growing. I have great trainers and coaches that keep me centered and on the up and up in my career.”
The Knoxville-based fighter initially made waves under the Strikeforce banner, then carried that momentum on to the sport’s biggest stage by emerging victorious in his initial four showings inside the UFC Octagon. During Saint Preux’s climb up the 205-pound divisional ladder, the former football player turned 4 oz. leather-slinger showed an evolution of his skill set with the ability to end fights both standing and on the canvas.
While the Knoxville Martial Arts Academy representative would suffer a setback in his inaugural main event showing against Ryan Bader, Saint Preux rebounded in strong fashion by scoring back-to-back knockout victories in his next two outings. One of those finishes served to be the biggest moment of his career to date, as the light heavyweight veteran scorched former UFC champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in front of the MMA legend’s countrymen in Brazil.
Toppling “Shogun” marked Saint Preux’s arrival to a different level of recognition and competition in the 205-pound ranks, and it’s not a tier he will be looking to exit any time soon. A loss to Glover Teixeira in his most recent bout certainly served to nudge him back a bit, but Saint Preux believes the loss place the type of pressure on him that may have forced him to bend but would never be capable of breaking his resolve.
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“I take positives away from every fight no matter the outcome,” Saint Preux said. “Essentially I lost that fight with Glover, but that’s not how I weighed it out in my mind because I learned so much from it. When you learn something from a situation and that leads to you improving your overall situation, then you take that as a win in some regard.
“This is a crazy sport because anything can happen at any time. In other sports, you kind of know what to expect or what can happen given the situation, but that isn’t true in the fight game. You may know who is the favorite and who is the underdog going into a fight, but on any given day either fighter could walk out of the Octagon the winner. There is no other sport quite like it and I love what I do.”
When one back step is taken, two forward steps are required and that’s precisely what Saint Preux has his mind set on when he faces Rafael Feijao at UFC Fight Night: Hendricks vs. Thompson this Saturday night in Las Vegas. The former Strikeforce champion has long been one of the light heavyweight division’s most dangerous power punchers and Saint Preux is taking the threat the Brazilian possesses with the utmost seriousness.
That said, the resilient scrapper believes he can better Feijao everywhere, which is what he ultimately believes will make the difference once the cage door closes at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. And when his hand is raised and another job well done goes into the books, Saint Preux will then set his sights on making his 2016 campaign one to remember.
“Things are looking great for me to make a strong run this year,” he said. “The division is wide open and getting this fight so early in the year could create a situation where I’m able to compete at least three or four more times if everything goes right. I definitely see this year being something special for me.
“The opponent doesn’t really matter to me because it’s just the fight in general I’m excited about. My last fight was a loss and I’m hungry to rebound from that and get back into the win column. I’m also excited to get out there and show the fans how much my game has improved since my last fight. I’ve been in the gym working my butt off and I’m ready to put my skills on display.”