The main card of UFC Singapore offers a few names most fans should recognize, including a former PPV headliner. No, I’m not talking about Donald Cerrone, one of the headliners of this car. Nope, I’m referencing Ovince Saint Preux. While he was opposite Jon Jones while filling in for Daniel Cormier on short notice, it doesn’t take away from the fact Saint Preux was a PPV headliner. Then again, perhaps it says more about Saint Preux he’s in the co-main event of a card in Singapore now rather than getting a crack at Cormier. Regardless, the main card of UFC Singapore is better than its rep.
The main card begins on Fight Pass at 8:00 AM ET/5:00 AM PT on Saturday.
Ovince Saint Preux (22-11) vs. Tyson Pedro (7-1), Light Heavyweight
The UFC is hoping Pedro can pull off the upset over the established Saint Preux as it appears the veteran has hit his ceiling. On the flip side, Pedro appears to have the personality and style to be a standout. However, Saint Preux could prove to be too much for Pedro to handle at this juncture of his young career.
Saint Preux is a bit of an unorthodox striker, remaining on the outside and slinging single power shot punches and kicks of the counter. He’s able to get away with his low output thanks to his freakish 80” reach and southpaw stance that has regularly created problems for his opposition. The power shots are set up by a probing jab. Saint Preux offers a powerful takedown game too, but he also tends to wear himself out quickly when he opts for that strategy. Thus, his wrestling is seen sparingly despite it generally being an effective part of his arsenal despite owning some of the best GnP in the division.
Pedro’s frame is similar to Saint Preux’s – his reach is a mere inch shorter – but his attack is less refined and defined… at least his striking attack is. Given his youth, that isn’t too big of a concern as Pedro has established an effective low kicking game to carry him until he fully develops his boxing, but he could be in some serious trouble if he’s unable to close the distance against Saint Preux. Given Saint Preux’s ability to maintain his distance, that’s a tough task for the Aussie.
Though Saint Preux may best be known for his propensity for the Von Flue choke – prompting some to consider changing the name of the choke to the Von Preux choke – Pedro actually owns the more developed grappling game. Though he excels at snagging submissions in transitions, his BJJ fundamentals aren’t anything to scoff at either and he’s effective at softening up his opponent with his ground and pound.
Though it appears the UFC no longer views Saint Preux as a potential title contender, that doesn’t mean he’s spent. He put together a three-fight win streak prior to his own loss to Latifi, including a win over another youngster who is further along in his development in Corey Anderson. Saint Preux is prone to letting his defense slip enough that Pedro could score an upset, but Saint Preux’s submission defense has been sound. Given Pedro’s striking isn’t fully developed yet, I don’t see an upset in his future. Saint Preux via TKO of RD2
Jessica-Rose Clark (9-4, 1 NC) vs. Jessica Eye (12-6, 1 NC), Women’s Flyweight
It appears Clark doesn’t want to waste any time in climbing the flyweight rankings as this is her third UFC contest wince her short notice debut in November. After an impressive debut against Bec Rawlings in which she consistently thwarted the aggressive Aussie with her own brand of tenacity, Clark’s performance against Paige VanZant was a bit disappointing, showing a reluctance to engage. Then again, it’s likely she wasn’t in the right frame of mind to be fighting after having her home broken into and cat killed earlier that week.
When Clark is right, the combination of her brawling nature and improved footwork have made for an effective boxing style. Her ability to put together punching combinations has been another notable improvement. As a former bantamweight, she’s big for the division, proving to be more than a handful to deal with in the clinch.
Eye has been one of the bigger disappointments in the women’s division in the UFC for quite a while now, only recently snapping a four-fight losing streak after dropping to flyweight. A skilled combination puncher, Eye’s big problem has been her poise. A typical Eye fight consists of her starting strong only to show reluctance to engage once her opponent lands the first good strike to rattle Eye’s confidence. Eye overcame that in her last contest when she opted to utilize an improving wrestling game against Kalindra Faria. However, doing that against the larger Clark will be a hell of a task.
It’s hard to see Eye walking out of this one with a W. If she could overcome her mental deficiencies, she could be a major player in the still young women’s flyweight division. However, that seems highly unlikely this far into her career. Clark appears to be on an upward trajectory. I’m going with the Aussie on this one. Clark via decision
Li Jingliang (14-5) vs. Daichi Abe (6-1), Welterweight
Jingliang has developed a reputation as one of the top action fighters in the UFC. After his last performance against Jake Matthews, he also developed a reputation as a dirty fighter when he gouged the living hell out of Matthews’ eyes to escape a DEEP guillotine choke. Here’s hoping it was a one-time occurrence as Jingliang is a lot of fun to watch.
Jingliang isn’t a power puncher in the purest sense despite four KO/TKO finishes in his last five victories. Instead, he overwhelms his opponents with volume and tenacity. He starts out prodding with a jab and low kicks before finding the range he’s looking for and putting on the hurt. Known as a soul sucking grappler prior to coming over to the UFC – thus where he obtained the nickname the Leech – the wrestling hasn’t translated as well to the big stage. Nonetheless, Jingliang can still hit the occasional takedown to mix things up.
Abe represents one of the brighter prospects to come out of Japan in quite some time. Showing the ability to alternate between pressing the action and countering off his back foot, Abe has also displayed some impressive judo trips and tosses in his limited amount of time in the UFC. What cost the youngster in his last contest was a shallow gas tank after he was unable to put away a hurt Luke Jumeau. However, he’s likely to learn from a loss like that – his first one of his career – and come back stronger.
Though Jingliang has carved out a nice role for himself as an action fighter, his lack of athleticism limits how far he can climb the ladder in the welterweight rankings. That doesn’t mean he can’t continue improving, but I like the upside of Abe better. While I believe Abe is ready for this type of test, I do have doubts he’ll be able to get past the durable Jingliang. Nonetheless, I’m going with the younger fighter. Abe via decision