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UFC 197 results: Jon Jones wins decision over Ovince Saint Preux in return fight

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LAS VEGAS -- The fans came to the MGM Grand Garden Arena to see the man many consider the greatest fighter the sport of mixed martial arts has ever known, Jon Jones (22-1), to put on the sort of display they had long remembered.

Ovince Saint Preux (19-8) was supposed to just be a warm body simply there to allow the former longtime light heavyweight champion to showcase his skills. Jones was supposed to make quick work of OSP in the main event of UFC 197 and pivot to a title rematch with Daniel Cormier.

More Coverage: UFC 197 Results | UFC news

Instead, what the fans saw was a fighter every bit as rusty as you'd usually expect from someone who had not fought in 16 months. Jones claimed the interim light heavyweight title via unanimous decision, winning on scores of 50-44 and a pair of 50-45s.

"I don't think I want that belt," Jones said of the interim title. "It really took me awhile to pull the trigger tonight, I feel like I used 20 percent of the technique I really know."

The opening round set the tone for the fight, as Saint Preux clearly wasn't about to be goaded into making any mistakes and Jones appeared a bit tentative as he tried to figure out his opponents range.

Jones managed to land some of the flashy strikes which have been his calling card for so long, with head kicks, spinning back kicks, and elbows from odd angles off the break. But OSP proved super tough in shaking off shots which would have fallen many a fighter.

This continued for the better part of three and a half rounds before Jones finally turned it on in the fourth. He landed two separate slams and began to go to work from the top, dropping elbows from full mount as the crowd came to life. But Saint Preux managed to last until the horn.

Jones scored a giant slam of Saint Preux with two minutes left in the final round, but didn't come close to finishing the bout from there.

The bout was Jones' first since defeating Cormier at UFC 182 in January, 2011. On April 24, 2015, Jones was involved in a hit-and-run incident in Albquerque, N.M. part of a string of run-ins with the law. He was stripped of the title and suspended while his legal case unwound. He ultimately ended up with probation and was reinstated.

Jones was set to fight Cormier, who had won the vacant belt in his absence, but pulled out a couple weeks ago with a shin injury. Saint Preux stepped in for him and the bout was made an interim title.

The victory was Jones' 13th in a row since his lone career loss, a controversial disqualification against Matt Hamill in a fight he was handily winning.

Jones seemed relieved get a tuneup fight under his belt and believes he'll fare better when he eventually fights Cormier.

"Everything happens for a reason," Jones said. "I'm just glad I got a fight in the UFC. I'll be better next time."

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