Jones gained judges’ scores of 50-44, 50-45 and 50-45, and earned the interim light heavyweight title. The newly crowned interim champion, however, wasn’t interested in the hardware, instead keeping his focus on fighting current champ Daniel Cormier for the belt in his next fight.
“I don’t think I want that belt,” Jones said after being given the interim strap. “I want the real belt.”
Jones was patient early on, applying his typical oblique kicks throughout the round. St. Preux didn’t find his range for the opening frame and wasn’t able to land a clean shot.
In the second round, OSP was able to land a right hand that had Jones reeling for a moment. Jones, however, landed a number of side kicks, one of which landed on the side of his opponent’s knee and appeared to make it buckle.
Jones was able to land a number of kicks throughout the third round. St. Preux at one point ate four consecutive kicks to the body, adding to Jones’ significant strike total.
The first takedown of the fight came in the fourth round when Jones lifted his opponent up and slammed him to the canvas. St.Preux, to his credit, was able to immediately get up, but ate two significant elbows before being taken down again. Jones finished out the round by hitting St. Preux a number of times from top position.
Jones scored another takedown in the fifth round and coasted, but the Las Vegas crowed showered the main event with boos as time in the fight ran out.
After the bout, Jones said he felt good, but admitted he was watching more than reacting in the fight. He promised his next bout will bring more pleasure to the crowd.
“My next fight is going to be a hell of a lot better,” he said. “I guarantee you.
“I needed to do this and get this fight out of the way. I felt like I only used 20 percent of my technique tonight. I felt that I was just watching and imagining things instead of landing. I didn’t look at this fight as a warm-up fight, but I needed this fight before I fight for the championship. I’ll probably be back at practice on Tuesday and I’m excited to fight Daniel Cormier.”
With the win, Jones will now await a rematch with Cormier. The two have a heated history that includes Jones beating Cormier in their first match. After Jones found himself in legal trouble with a hit-and-run car accident, he was stripped of the title and suspended from the UFC.
UFC 197 marked Jones’ first fight in the Octagon since beating Cormier in January of 2015. The trash talk that led into the fight produced a great amount of intrigue, and the same is expected ahead of the rematch.