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Ovince Saint Preux ‘surprised’ to submit Yushin Okami with Von Flue choke: ‘Why did he grab my head?’

UFC Fight Night 82 photos
Ovince Saint Preux
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Ovince Saint Preux is wondering what many others are too after watching UFC Japan.

Saint Preux, who’s well-known for his Von Flue choke, put to sleep veteran fighter Yushin Okami with that exact ground technique in the first round of their light heavyweight contest. Their bout served as the main event for UFC Fight Night 117, which took place on Friday night at Saitama Super Arena.

This submission happened when Okami grabbed Saint Preux’s head while being on the bottom of half guard. Okami’s decision was a game-ending one and to many also an obvious mistake. That’s why Saint Preux was surprised when Okami reached over his head to presumably go for a guillotine that really had no chance of ever happening.

“I was surprised, but I don’t think he knew I was going to go for it,” Saint Preux said at the UFC Japan post-fight conference. “I was just surprised that he shot [for a takedown]. But typically, when somebody shoots in on me, I’m pretty heavy and it’s pretty hard to get me off of them and that happened. Like I said, I’m still thinking to myself, ‘Why did he grab my head?’”

Having the size and strength advantage, while also being very skilled in the grappling department, it may have seemed during the fight that it was part of Saint Preux’s plan to set up his signature submission. However, Saint Preux has no issues admitting that the submission wasn’t part of his strategy against Okami, who has fought most recently at welterweight and came in on short notice.

“I obviously didn’t plan to do that,” Saint Preux explained. “I was actually surprised he shot in on me and I think when I was trying to position him, because I was trying work on another submission, he grabbed my head. Typically, if I’m on top of somebody and you automatically grab my head, my hand just kind of goes over. I was quite surprised when he grabbed it, and when I locked it in, I knew I was going to finish it. It was way too tight.”

With this result, the 34-year-old fighter now holds two straight wins in the shallow light heavyweight division, thus solidifying his position in the top 10. When asked about his next career move, Saint Preux said he would like the fight that he was originally booked for or the chance to avenge one of his loses.

“I definitely came here to fight ‘Shogun’ (Rua),” Saint Preux said. “I definitely want to fight ‘Shogun’, but whoever is ahead of me right now. I have two loses that I think about – one with Volkan (Oezdemir), one with Jimi (Manuwa) – and I would definitely love to have those back, so whatever the UFC wants to do from here.”

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