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After scoring a 34-second knockout in their first meeting in November 2014, Saint Preux (26-16 MMA, 14-11 UFC) outpointed Rua (27-13-1 MMA, 11-11-1 UFC) over the course of three rounds to take a split decision by scores of 28-29, 29-28 and 30-27.
“Shogun,” a former UFC and PRIDE grand prix champion, said prior to the event that he only had two fights left in his career, and Saint Preux ensured he would not have the chance to go out on a winning streak.
The light heavyweight bout was part of the UFC 274 main card at Footprint Center in Phoenix.
Both men started the bout by gauging the distance. Rua used his traditional high muay-Thai guard, while Saint Preux attempted to throw kicks underneath the elbows to the body. Rua pressed forward but was also looking to counter punch. Saint Preux didn’t give him many opportunities, however, because of his kick-heavy approach. The crowd got restless and began to boo late in the opening round, which was quite slow-paced.
First round in the books 📚
— UFC (@ufc) May 8, 2022
There wasn’t much of a change in the second round. Saint Preux stayed disciplined with his kicking attack, mixing up shots to Rua’s body and occasionally going to the head. Rua stayed patient and kicked the legs and body of his opponent, while mixing in bursts of punches. Nothing major landed for either side, however, and the crowd kept expressing frustration in the low-action affair through 10 relatively uneventful minutes.
The start of the third round saw Saint Preux shoot for the first takedown of the fight. He was denied, and was unable to hold Rua against the fence. The fight went back to open space and continued to see both men have difficulty finding the big shot they wanted to close the shot. Saint Preux and Rua traded punches and kicks, but did not take any massive risks as an upset crowd waved their cell phone lights as the clock listlessly wound down to a final bell.
Ultimately the judges valued Saint Preux’s minimal work more, and he got his hand raised. However, he did not receive a post-fight interview in the octagon.
Up-to-the-minute results of UFC 274 include:
Ovince Saint Preux def. Mauricio Rua via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)