UFC 197 results: Jon Jones defeats Ovince St. Preux by unanimous decision


UFC 197 took place Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, headlined by Jon Jones’ return to UFC competition after a 15 month hiatus due to a hit and run arrest in New Mexico. Jones was scheduled to return against UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier but Cormier had to pull out due to injury and Jones will now face Ovince St. Preux in what UFC has made an interim title bout. In the co-main event, dominant UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson defends his title against undefeated Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo.

Here are the round-by-round results of each major bout:

UFC Interim Light Heavyweight Title: Jon Jones vs. Ovince St. Preux

Jon Jones is considered by most to be the best pound for pound fighter in the sport, a dominant champion who lost his title due to his conduct outside the cage. Now he returns, looking to reclaim his former status. He will have to wait for Daniel Cormier but he can at least win an interim title here. St. Preux is a former football player who has improved into a solid top 10 light heavyweight. He has won three of his last four bouts. A win over Jones would be a crowning achievement for his career and one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport.


Round 1. Jones throws a spinning back kick to the body early. OSP throws a high kick and then connects with a straight punch. Both men are throwing primarily one shot at a time. Jones lands a side kick to the body. Jones uses another kick to the body a little while later. Neither man is throwing much. Jones throws another spinning back kick to the body late. Jones uses a knee to the body and the round ends. Uneventful round. 10-9 Jones.

Round 2. Jones catches an OSP kick but can’t use it to get OSP down or set something up. OSP lands a couple jabs. They clinch but then separate. Jones presses OSP against the cage and lands a few elbows. OSP lands a knee to the body. OSP appears to hurt Jones a little with a right hook but Jones recovers quickly. OSP catches Jones with a hard straight right hand. 10-9 Jones.

Round 3. Jones uses a spinning elbow. Neither man is throwing much. They trade leg kicks. The crowd starts to boo what has been a lackluster at best bout. Jones lands a head kick and then a low kick. OSP answers back with a couple punches high and then a punch to the body that lands solidly. 10-9 Jones.

Round 4. OSP uses a kick to the body and then a leg kick. Jones clinches with OSP and slams him down a minute and a half into the round. OSP gets right back up in a hurry, impressively. Jones lands an elbow from range. Jones clinches against the cage and takes OSP down again. Jones has side control. He lands some elbows but loses the position. Jones works his way into mount. OSP turns and Jones lands some punches from the back and then a few more from top. Jones’ best round. 10-9 Jones.

Round 5. OSP throws a few straight punches from range. Jones is walking him down but not doing much. Jones takes OSP down hard with two minutes left. He then lets OSP back up. Jones lands a few elbows against the cage. 10-9 Jones, 50-45 Jones.

Winner: Jon Jones, unanimous decision (50-44, 50-45, 50-45).


That was a dull fight that felt more like a sparring session than anything. Still, Jones successfully returned following a long hiatus and got in some valuable work. It will be interesting to see whether his performance reflects any larger trend or whether he’ll return to his usual self when matched with the more formidable Daniel Cormier. Jones acknowledges after the fight the interim title isn’t the real belt and he wants that one back.

UFC Flyweight Title: Demetrious Johnson vs. Henry Cejudo

Johnson is one of the best pound for pound fighters in the sport. He mixes great movement, pinpoint accuracy and excellent strategy. He has dominated the flyweight division since it was instituted, although fan interest in Johnson and the division has lagged. Cejudo remains one of the few hopes left to challenge Johnson, maybe the last. He is undefeated and is an Olympic gold medal wrestler.

Round 1. Johnson lands an overhand right early. They clinch and then separate. Cejudo gets a takedown. Johnson gets up shortly thereafter. Johnson rocks Cejudo with an elbow and a knee to the head. He attacks with another knee to the body. Cejudo goes down, Johnson lands a few more punches on the ground, and the fight is stopped.

Winner: Demetrious Johnson, TKO, round 1.

Anthony Pettis vs. Edson Barboza


This has the potential to be a dynamic standup war between two of the best offensive standup fighters in the sport. Pettis and Barboza are both ferocious muay thai fighters with a variety of different striking attacks. Both also badly need a win here. Pettis is coming off consecutive decision losses and Barboza has lost two of three.

Round 1. Pettis lands an uppercut early, one of the first solid shots of the fight. Pettis is the fighter moving forward more but neither man is throwing a lot. Barboza lands a big left hook and another moments later. Barboza lands a right hand a little while later and then a right hook. Barboza follows with a spinning back kick to the body. Pettis goes for a takedown but doesn’t get it. Clear round for Barboza. 10-9 Barboza.

Round 2. The fighters trade hooks, connecting at right around the same time. Pettis is attempting more unorthodox techniques, but isn’t having a lot of success in landing any of it. Barboza works in the same stance, confidently throwing the same sets of techniques that are working well for him. He catches Pettis with another big left hook late. 10-9 Barboza.

Round 3. Barboza throws a head kick and snaps Pettis’ head back with a jab. Barboza lands a leg kick and then a big body kick. He has taken over this fight. Pettis is struggling to figure out answers for Barboza. Barboza is mixing in leg kicks that are doing a lot of damage to Pettis. Pettis does throw a high kick in an exchange. 10-9 Barboza, 30-27 Barboza.

Winner: Edson Barboza, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).

Robert Whittaker vs. Rafael Natal


Both of these fighters have won four straight and are looking to develop into middleweight contenders. Whittaker is the one with greater star potential, a 25 year old Australian who won an Ultimate Fighter tournament and is a standup specialist. Natal is more of a grinder and ground fighter. 7 of his 9 UFC wins have come via decision.

Round 1. Whittaker pushes the action early, moving in with his jab while Natal circles on the outside. Natal connects with a leg kick. Whittaker lands a few looping punches but gets countered with one by Natal in the process. Whittaker is more active with his standup while Natal is measured and looking to connect with something big. Whittaker catches Natal with some solid hooks late in the round and pushes the action looking to take Natal out. 10-9 Whittaker.

Round 2. A confident Whittaker moves back into range with wild looping punches. Natal looks for a takedown but can’t get it. Natal is repeatedly throwing solid leg kicks that are doing a lot of damage to the leg of Whittaker. As Natal continues to work the leg, Whittaker is being less active with his boxing and Whittaker is attacking the lower body more himself. Whittaker throws a high kick late. Close round. 10-9 Natal.

Round 3. Natal lands a leg kick and a hook. Whittaker lands a few leg kicks of his own and a high kick. Whittaker backs Natal up with a pair of jabs. Natal goes for a takedown but it is blocked and Whittaker punishes him with an overhand in the process. Natal continues to work his leg kicks. Whittaker hurts Natal with a big leg kick late in the round and swarms on Natal until the close. 10-9 Whittaker, 29-28 Whittaker.

Winner: Robert Whittaker, unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27).

Yair Rodriguez vs. Andre Fili


Rodriguez has garnered some acclaim as a fighter to watch of late. Just 23, he has an exciting fight style and won the Ultimate Fighter Latin America. He is matched with Fili, a 15-3 Team Alpha Male product who has shown promise in his own right young in his career.

Round 1. The fighters come out wild. Rodriguez ends up on top and lands some heavy punches to Fili on the ground. Rodriguez adds a few elbows and works his way into side control position. Rodriguez loses the position and Fili gets back to his feet. Fili drops Rodriguez with a left hand but Rodriguez gets back up. Fili gets a takedown late but Rodriguez again pops right back up. 10-9 Rodriguez.

Round 2. The fighters start out wildly. Rodriguez gets a takedown a minute in. Rodriguez lands some punches from the top but then lets Fili back up. Rodriguez knocks Fili out cold with a flying left roundhouse kick. That was a spectacular finish.

Winner: Yair Rodriguez, KO, round 2.

Sergio Pettis vs. Chris Kelades

Pettis is the younger brother of former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. He is still only 22 years old and is 13-2 with 4 UFC wins, although he frequently hasn’t performed as impressively as that resume might suggest. Kelades is 2-1 in the UFC, with wins over Chris Beal and Patrick Holohan.


Round 1. The feeling out process is on the slow side in this one, with neither man doing much for the first couple minutes. Pettis’ speed edge is readily apparent. Pettis is moving a lot but not throwing or land much. Kelades clinches but can’t do anything with it. Pettis catches Kelades with a couple punches as he moves in moments later. Pettis gets a takedown with a minute left. Kelades gets up at the end. Dull round. 10-9 Pettis.

Round 2. Kelades gets a takedown. Pettis sweeps into top position. They return to the feet, where Pettis lands a solid right hook. Kelades lands some knees in the clinch. They separate and Pettis lands a few crisp punches from range. Pettis throws a head kick late. 10-9 Pettis.

Round 3. Kelades pursues Pettis. Pettis scores a takedown. Kelades works his way back to his feet halfway through the round. There’s a rather wild scramble with each man landing shots and Pettis going for a takedown late. He doesn’t get it. Not a good fight or an impressive performance by either man. 10-9 Pettis, 30-27 Pettis.

Winner: Sergio Pettis, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

Danny Roberts vs. Dominique Steele

Roberts entered the UFC with a fair amount of hype, after a successful run on smaller British shows. He impressed in his UFC debut, submitting Nathan Coy in the first round. Steele is 1-1 in the UFC and enters this fight as a 3-1 underdog.


Round 1. Steele catches Roberts with a hard right hand. They tumble to the ground and Roberts looks for a triangle choke. Steele slams Roberts down to get out of that. Steele then goes to work with punches from the top. Roberts gets back to his feet at the halfway point of the round. He lands a knee to the body and separates. Roberts stuns Steele with a left punch and Steele is forced to go for a takedown. He doesn’t get it and the fighters exchange knees to the body. Steele slams Roberts down with a minute left. Roberts gets up but takes a knee to the head as he gets up. Good round. 10-9 Steele.

Round 2. Steele goes for a takedown. He doesn’t get it but does land a hard knee to the head as they break. Steele has been very effective throughout with his knees from the clinch. Roberts moves in with punches and Steele goes for a takedown he doesn’t get. They clinch and Steele lands some more knees to the body and head there. Roberts lands a crisp combination of punches and a kick that have Steele in a little trouble. Steele clinches, composes himself, and goes back to his knees from there. They trade looping punches from close range. Steele takes Roberts’ back late but can’t do anything with it. Both men look quite tired after a blistering pace. 10-9 Steele.

Round 3. Roberts lands a big left hand but Steele grabs hold and slams Roberts down. Roberts works his way back up in quick order. They work up against the cage with Steele ending up on top. Roberts lands some elbows to the head from there. Steele lands a big knee to the head and they start swinging wild hooks from close range. Steele lands the best shot in that exchange as well, clipping Roberts with a big hook. Steele then looks for a late takedown. He can’t keep Roberts down but lands some more of his knees as the fight comes to an end. 10-9 Steele, 30-27 Steele.

Winner: Danny Roberts, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).

Carla Esparza vs. Juliana Lima

Esparza was the UFC women’s strawweight champion, but lost the title in her last bout against current champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. She now returns looking to work her way back into title contention. Lima’s only UFC setback also came against Jedrzejczyk and she has won her last two UFC fights.


Round 1. Lima clinches with Esparza and looks for a takedown. Esparza works to remain standing up against the Octagon fence. Lima lands a knee and a few punches upon separation. Esparza shoots in for a takedown of her own and gets it. Esparza attempts to work her way out of Lima’s guard and into side control but Lima deftly prevents that and gets Esparza back into full guard. Lima keeps her hips high, where she can threaten with submissions. Esparza lands punches while looking to keep out of danger. Esparza postures up but eats a couple of hard upkicks in the process. Esparza lands some punches from the top late in the round. 10-9 Lima. Esparza had top position but Lima landed the bigger shots and often controlled Esparza from the bottom.

Round 2. Lima throws a kick that Esparza catches and Esparza uses the opportunity to slam Lima to the ground. Esparza lands punches continually from the top. They don’t have much power but Esparza is controlling the action much more than in the first. Lima works her way back up to the feet as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Esparza.

Round 3. Esparza scores a trip takedown 30 seconds in and we’re back to the same place as in the first two rounds. As Esparza postures up to land bigger shots, she eats another upkick and backs away. Lima takes the opportunity to stand back up, but Esparza goes for another takedown shortly thereafter. She gets Lima down but then allows Lima back up again. Esparza shoots for another takedown and gets it. This time she lands in more advantageous side control position. Esparza lands some punches there but Lima sweeps and ends up in side control on top. Lima tries to move into full mount but cannot successfully do so. 10-9 Esparza, 29-28 Esparza.

Winner: Carla Esparza, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

James Vick vs. Glaico Franca

Vick is an undefeated lightweight prospect (although he lost to Michael Chiesa in what was technically an exhibition bout on the Ultimate Fighter) with unique characteristics. He’s very tall for the weight class with a dangerous clinch game and sneaky submissions. He is coming off the biggest win of his career, submitting highly regarded Australian prospect Jake Matthews. Franca won the fourth season of the Ultimate Fighter Brazil with three consecutive submissions and now looks to make his mark in the UFC.


Round 1. Franca lands a couple of leg kicks early. Franca then connects with a hard punch to the jaw that stuns Vick. Franca then scores a takedown. Vick works to get back to his feet but Franca pulls him back down. Finally, Vick returns back to his feet with a minute left. Vick gets aggressive with punches and kicks back on the feet and in particular a few hard punches late. He has an advantage because Franca took a poke to the eye. Franca then scores a takedown to conclude the round. 10-9 Franca.

Round 2. Vick hurts Franca with some big punches early on and is really getting the better of the exchanges now. Franca lands a spinning backfist and takes Vick down again a minute and a half in. Franca is mainly controlling Vick’s body on the ground, not doing much damage or attempting submissions. Vick gets up and immediately throws a high kick. Vick goes to work with his boxing, including a nice uppercut. Franca lands a hard straight right hand in response. Franca’s vision doesn’t appear to be all there after the eye poke earlier. Franca dives in for a takedown from too far out and doesn’t come close to getting in. 10-9 Vick.

Round 3. Vick is confidently circling Franca and throwing shots from the outside. Franca is more flat footed and is struggling to move in on Vick effectively. Franca goes for a takedown and comes close but Vick is able to stop it and they clinch by the cage. While Franca is struggling to land on Vick, Vick himself isn’t landing nearly as much as he did late in the first or in the second. Vick lands a flying knee and moves out of the way when Franca attempts to close distance. Franca lands a brutal right hand to the chin, perhaps the best blow of the entire fight. But Vick soldiers through and continues to work with his boxing as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Vick, 29-28 Vick.

Winner: James Vick, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).

In preliminary action, Kevin Lee edged out a unanimous decision win over Efrain Escudero. It wasn’t as impressive of a win as the sizeable favorite Lee likely hoped for. Marcos Rogerio de Lima dominated Clint Hester and finished Hester with an arm triangle submission in the first round. De Lima was in control from beginning to end and Hester could find himself cut by the UFC after his third straight loss. Finally, Walt Harris picked up his first UFC victory with a first round TKO over promotional newcomer Cody East. The stoppage from the referee came at a strange time but East was badly hurt.

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