Ovince Saint Preux is back.
Less than six months from his biggest UFC clash to date, when he stepped up on short notice to fight Jon Jones for the interim light heavyweight title, Saint Preux returns to the Octagon on Saturday ready to prove he deserves the spotlight again.
Sure, he took a loss in that matchup against Jones, the former No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, in the main event of UFC 197 in April. But Saint Preux gained plenty from the encounter which will help him this weekend and beyond.
“I took a fight on three weeks' notice, broke my arm in the third round, and to do what I was able to do, in that fashion just alone, let me know that I belong here,” said Saint Preux, currently ranked No. 5 in the division. “Hopefully within the next year I'll be fighting for the belt.
“There's a difference between being ready for it and being born for it. Something like this, a moment like this I think I was born for it.”
The charge towards another high-profile shot begins for Saint Preux in Manchester against No. 8-ranked Jimi Manuwa.
It may not be the main event of UFC 204, but the clash is quite the challenge for Saint Preux. Not only is Manuwa a strong challenger with a 15-2 professional record, but as one of eight fighters with British ties on the card, he’ll have more than his fair share of support within the sold-out crowd at Manchester Arena.
Finally back at full health, Saint Preux is ready.
“(The crowd) isn’t going to affect me” Saint Preux said. “It’s more for him than me - he’s the one that’s got to perform in front of that crowd. More times than the other, the crowd can get you in trouble.
“I just have to go in there and do my job like I usually do. At the end of the day I just need to get my hand raised, but I’m also an entertainer so I’m going to entertain people, too. I’m going to fight my fight. There’s a reason people like watching me fight. As long as I do that I’ll be fine.”
Jorge Mondaca is managing editor of UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JorgeAMondaca