Join us tonight on Bloody Elbow for live results, discussion and play-by-play as the UFC 197: Jones vs Saint Preux pay-per-view (PPV) goes off from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV.
Polarizing phenom Jon Jones is back, squaring off with Ovince Saint Preux for the UFC interim light-heavyweight championship in Daniel Cormier's absence. Flyweight juggernaut Demetrious Johnson heads up the co-main event in a title defense against the undefeated Henry Cejudo, the youngest American wrestler to snare a gold medal at the Olympics.
Also on the PPV card: Edson Barboza and former UFC/WEC champ Anthony Pettis, two of the sport's most dynamic strikers, will duke it out in a lightweight bout, steadily progressing Aussie Robert Whittaker meets Brazilian whirlwind Rafael Natal in a middleweight contest and Team Alpha Male scrapper Andre "Touchy" Fili draws TUF: Latin America featherweight winner Yair Rodriguez.
Live coverage will commence with the PPV broadcast at 10 p.m. ET following the preliminary cards on Fox Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET) and UFC Fight Pass (6:30 p.m. ET). Check out this week's MMA Vivisection for UFC 197 predictions, analysis and betting odds.
(PPV, 10 p.m. ET)
R1: Jones spiders out in his signature crouched stance, but stays there a tad longer than usual. He stands up and unfurls a spinning kick to the body shortly after. Saint Preux flings a few jabs and front kicks but Jones is out of range for all of them. Jones goes airborne and pelts Saint Preux with a jumping side kick to the body. Straight front kicks for Jones: one to the body, one to the knee.
Jones, switching stances often, lands a left kick to the body from southpaw. Front-leg side kick to the knee from Jones. Saint Preux looking a tad hesitant and confused, understandably. Saint Preux lands a jab and Jones takes him down briefly to close the opening frame. 10-9 Jones.
R2: Jones catches a low kick and hoists it up in the air but Saint Preux stays on his feet with exceptional balance. Jones drives his shin into the chest of Saint Preux with a left roundhouse kick, again delivered from southpaw. We undergo somewhat of a drawling pace as Saint Preux flings halfhearted jabs and Jones studies his habits. They clinch up and Saint Preux lands a strong knee to the body.
Jones follows a left body kick into the clinch, landing a knee downstairs and elbow to the head. They break and Saint Preux lands his best shot of the fight; a right hand. Two side kicks to the knee from Jones. The third crushes into his knee and buckles his leg. Jones throws a spinning roundhouse kick that lands to the head. Saint Preux answers with another nice right. More side kicks to the knee on Saint Preux's lead leg. 10-9 Jones.
R3: Now it's a bevy of rear-leg stomp kicks to the knee from Jones. Saint Preux slips in with a jab. Jones follows another side kick to the knee with a spinning back elbow that glances to the head. Straight left from southpaw is there for Jones. Saint Preux goes to the orthodox stance, perhaps feeling the affect of the kicks to his knee.
The crowd starts to howl softly in the background as the casual pace of a sparring session continues. Saint Preux throws a jab and lands short on a one-two. Jones answers with six consecutive kicks from the left side. Jones dodges a lunging right hand and buries another left kick into the body of Saint Preux. 10-9 Jones.
R4: Saint Preux opens with a left kick to the body, then a clean outside low kick. Jones is late to counter the next kick with a left hook. Short straight right glances for Saint Preux. They clinch up and Jones puts him on the fence, then locks his hands and scoops him off the ground for a slam double leg. Saint Preux deftly maneuvers his hips to ignite a scramble, then escapes with the space he created.
Jones lands a lead step-in elbow, then clinches up to put Saint Preux back on the fence. Another easy lift takedown from Jones, but this time he lands in side mount and keeps Saint Preux on his back. Short left elbows to the face from Jones, who bases down to halt Saint Preux's attempt to cage walk. Saint Preux rolls out but Jones takes him back down, then mounts him and thumps him with a nasty elbow. 10-9 Jones.
R5: Jones with more oblique kicks from range, then a left roundhouse to the body. Now a spinning back kick to the body from Jones. Saint Preux is still on his bike and circling out heavily, drawing more whistles and unrest from the crowd.
Saint Preux glances with a short right. Jones corners him and shoots a double, again easily locking his hands, hoisting him off the canvas and driving him down into it. Saint Preux scrambles a little but Jones seems to let him stand back up. A jumping left roundhouse kick from Jones sails over the head of Saint Preux. Jones puts him back on the fence and Saint Preux bombs a knee to his body. 10-9 Jones. I have it 50-45 Jones.
Jon Jones defeats Ovince Saint Preux by unanimous decision (50-45 x2, 50-44)
R1: The champ starts off with a heavy overhand right to keep Cejudo off him. Johnson lowers his level, perhaps anticipating a level change from Cejudo, but it doesn't matter as Cejudo simply powers him onto his back. Johnson is back to his feet quickly, landing knees to the body in the clinch, then smashing Cejudo with a knee to the head.
Cejudo puts him on the fence but Johnson is battering knee after knee to the body of Cejudo, then he switches it up with a clean elbow upstairs before resuming the barrage of knees. Cejudo stumbles back and Johnson swarms him, plunging more knees to the gut until Cejudo crumples.
- Demetrious Johnson defeats Henry Cejudo by TKO (knees) R1 2:49
R1: Pettis glances with a right hand to the top of the head. Lead rear uppercut sneaks through for Pettis. Light inside low kick for Barboza, then he backs Pettis off with a one-two. Barboza lands a left hook counter clean to the face. And another on the next exchange, this one heavier. A thin trickle of blood oozes from Pettis' right eye as a result.
Now it's a right hand that gets through for the Brazilian, followed by a glancing check hook. Spinning kick to the body is there for Barboza, then he shucks off a Pettis takedown attempt. Barboza steps in to jam a Pettis spinning kick, then steps away on a jumping wheel kick. 10-9 Barboza.
R2: Barboza shells on a jumping switch kick from Pettis, then taps his leg with an inside low kick. They both land simultaneous left hooks though Barboza's looked a bit cleaner. Pettis gets off-balance on a kick and Barboza thinks about the rear waist cinch, then fires a high kick ala Rousey/Holm, but it's off the mark. Another jumping switch kick attempt from Pettis but Barboza isn't there.
Barboza scores with a low kick and Pettis answers with a glancing one-two. Barboza digs a right roundhouse kick into the ribs of Pettis, who tries to catch it but can't. Pettis goes to southpaw and but his left body kick is blocked. Another left hook is good for Barboza. Pettis struggling to find rhythm against the fast counter striker. Pettis throws a sloppy carthweel kick to finish the frame. 10-9 Barboza.
R3: Pettis switches stances and continues his rotation with a spinning kick, but Barboza deflects it. Another flashy kick attempt from Pettis, this time a Capoeira kick, but still no dice. Barboza cleaves into his leg with a harsh low kick. Sorry, my internet and/or Xbox crapped out.
- Edson Barboza defeats Anthony Pettis by unanimous decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)
R1: Natal lands an early jab. Whittaker lands a clubbing right and a jab. Natal answers with a front kick, then lands a sharp outside low kick. The mere sign of a level change from Natal persuades Whittaker to pull up short on a combination. Whittaker lands a hard left hand. Both fighters looking for wide left hook counters.
Natal lands another low kick, this one inside. Whittaker slings another left over the top and it dings Natal, then Whittaker stays on the trigger and scores with another shot. Whittaker finds the mark with a jab and a right hand to close the round. 10-9 Whittaker.
R2: Natal glances with another outside low kick to Whittaker's lead leg but the attacks have left a large purple bruise on the side of Whittaker's thigh. Two more low kicks from Natal; they graze but Whittaker is clearly focusing on avoiding them now. Whittaker seems to be stepping gingerly on the leg and he's no longer sitting down on any combos.
Front kick to the body from Whittaker. Double left hook counter from Whittaker, one connects. Natal catches Whittaker's body with a front kick, then digs his shin deep into the leg with another low kick. Clean lead left lands to the face of Natal, drawing an ooze of blood. Natal tries a single leg to no avail. Front-leg side kick to the knee lands clean for Whittaker but Natal answers with another low kick. 10-9 Natal.
R3: Whittaker grazes the cup of Natal on a side kick and we pause for the obligatory junk check. On the restart, Natal flings a pile of kicks from range to keep Whittaker at bay. Natal again targets the lead leg with a low kick. Whittaker answers with a sharp double jab. Whittaker whiffs with a wide left haymaker but lands a front kick and a low kick, then catches Natal with a left hand.
They trade outside low kicks but Whittaker follows with a clean left. Whittaker now leading with a lot of lunging left hooks as the pace slows. Natal sneaks in two clean low kicks to the lead leg. Whittaker tags him with a left and then drops him with a right kick that sneaks over Natal's shoulder. 10-9 Whittaker. I have it 29-28 Whittaker.
- Robert Whittaker defeats Rafael Natal by unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
R1: Rodriguez opens with a sharp low kick, keeping Fili at bay. Now it's a spinning kick to the body from Rodriguez. Fili knifes into range and lands short on a one-two, but Rodriguez catches his kick and takes him down. Full guard with double wrist control from Fili in guard but Rodriguez peels his right arm loose and lands a hard shot, then backs off to land an axe kick to the body. Brief inside heel hook attempt from Rodriguez on top, but he uses it to pass to half guard.
Fili goes to the knee shield despite his corner's suggestion to over-hook on the left side. Fili tries a sweep but Rodriguez is one step ahead, passing into side mount. Cross-body for Rodriguez in side control. Fili goes for a leg lock and it's good enough to back Rodriguez off, leaving Fili enough room to stand up. Rodriguez clips him with a hard low kick on the reset, then catches him with a counter right. Fili sails a left out wide and it lands clean, then he lands a right kick to the body. Fili half-completes a takedown but Rodriguez bounces up from the canvas instantly. 10-9 Rodriguez.
R2: After backing away from a Fili flurry, Rodriguez throws a lead back fist, then launches for what looks like a jumping, switch roundhouse kick. It misses and he loses his balance, but it looks pretty cool. Rodriguez nails a takedown and goes back to work in Fili's guard, but steps out and away shortly after. No dice on the spinning kick from Rodriguez.
Rodriguez repeats the jumping switch roundhouse kick and, this time, Fili ducks right into his shin, then crumples backwards to the canvas, lying motionless.
- Yair Rodriguez defeats Andre Fili by KO (jumping switch kick) R2 2:15