4.16.2009

Ex-UT Middle Linebacker and Strength Coach Kevin Simon: “Ovince St. Preux Was Born to Be a Cage Fighter!”


From a Press Release:

Knoxville, TN: Between 2001 and 2005, Kevin Simon trained, practiced, and competed on the gridiron against hundreds of Tennessee teammates. Some – like Albert Haynesworth, Jason Witten and John Henderson – went on to achieve considerable NFL success. Others are now in graduate school, pursuing various professional degrees. But none left an impression quite like Ovince St. Preux.



“He’s a little crazy,” laughed Simon from his office in Dallas, Texas, where he works as a scout for the Dallas Cowboys. As Tennessee’s starting middle linebacker, Simon led the Vols in tackles in 2003 and 2005 and played five years for the Washington Redskins. He rejoined the Volunteers in 2007 as a coach on the strength and conditioning staff, leaving at the end of the 2008 season. “There’s a screw loose somewhere in there. But that craziness is why Ovince was such a great special teams player – and why he’s so good in the cage. He just loves contact.”


Ovince St. Preux will be returning to the steel cage at XFC 8: “Regional Conflict” to face Florida fighter Ombey Mobley on Saturday, April 25 in Knoxville at the 21 thousand-capacity Thompson-Boling Arena. The MMA fight card will be broadcast live on national television, exclusively on HDNet. This will be St. Preux’s first fight since his spectacular one-kick knockout of rising light heavyweight prospect CT Turner on February 20 at the first-ever professional MMA show in Tennessee state history, XFC 7: “School of Hard Knox.” The kick earned St. Preux the FightTicker.com “Knockout of the Night.”


Even as a wide-eyed freshman, Simon remembers Ovince St. Preux as a fearless presence in the locker room.


“Ovince was a star wrestler in high school. I think he went something like 30-1 as a senior and finished second in the state,” said Simon. “So right from the beginning, he was always ready to mix it up, always ready to fight or wrestle anyone who got in his face. And that definitely translated to the playing field because he was one of our biggest hitters and most explosive tacklers. When Ovince hit someone, they stayed down for a very long time.”


St. Preux entered Tennessee as a 200 pound defensive end. The coaches moved him to linebacker because of his size limitations, but he made his biggest mark – both on the field and on the other players – as the Vols’ special teams ace and “wedge-buster.”


“Linebackers rely heavily on their instincts,” explained Simon, “and because Ovince was originally a defensive end, he lacked that instinctive first step that a linebacker needs to succeed. But he’s such an amazing natural athlete and so completely fearless, he was an absolute terror on special teams. And keep in mind what brutally violent position a wedge-buster is! Your job is to sprint at full speed, locate the wall of blockers trying to protect the returner, and blow-up the wall so your teammates can make the tackle. Nobody was better at this than Ovince.”


Perhaps his most devastating hit was against his own teammate.


“Oh, man – Ovince had something like 15 tackles and was named Defensive MVP of our 2004 Spring Game,” Simon recalled. “But he had one hit on our running back. Maybe it was Ced [Cedric Houston] or one of the backups, but Ovince just lit him up – knocked the poor guy’s helmet clean off his head. We must’ve watched that hit at least 20 times in the film room. ‘Course, his hit on CT Turner was pretty sick, too!”


Originally from Louisville but training out of Gainesville, Florida, CT Turner boasted before fighting St. Preux that he was going to “destroy Ovince like Florida destroyed Tennessee in football,” and even walked to the cage while doing the “Gator Chomp.” Turner, then 6-2, learned the hard way not to agitate the ex-Vols special teams ace: St. Preux silenced his trash-talking opponent with a jaw-busting rear leg kick to the chin that blasted Turner to the canvas. Out cold, the referee immediately stopped the fight at 2:36 in the first round.


“That victory really changed my life,” noted St. Preux from his training camp at the Knoxville Martial Arts Academy. “Even months afterwards, people are still congratulating me. In fact, after beating Turner, my hand was hurting – not because of any punches I threw, but because of all the autographs I signed! I really feel like I’m ready to make my move in MMA, and I can’t wait to fight one more time in front of the home crowd right here in Knoxville!”


St. Preux will face Ombey Mobley, a hard-nosed ex-convict and former pro boxer who trains with CT Turner in Florida.


“Ovince landed the luckiest kick in MMA history with both his eyes closed, and now he’s running his mouth like he’s frickin’ Chuck Norris,” complained Mobley. “And I definitely ain’t impressed by the fact that Ovince used to wear orange and white on Saturday mornings while the Vols got their skulls stomped by the Gators. He’s a dead man walking.” Mobley is undefeated (4-0) as an MMA amateur and will be making his pro debut.


For his part, St. Preux, 12-2 in MMA as a pro and amateur, declined to engage in a war of words.


“I’ll do my talking in the cage, but I have noticed that Mobley likes to point to his prison background a lot. I guess he thinks that makes him look tough. But people don’t go to jail because they’re tough; they go to jail because they got caught. There’re different kinds of toughness, and I’m confident I’m plenty tough enough.”


Kevin Simon would certainly vouch for his former teammate’s toughness.


“You kidding me?” chortled Simon. “Ovince never missed a single game because of injury. You better believe he’s tough enough, strong enough, athletic enough, crazy enough, and absolutely violent enough. Look, I scout prospects for a living now. Morning, day and night, I’m studying tape and accumulating information. And in the scouting world, people are always comparing prospects to someone else – that this guy has a release like Marino, or that guy can run like Deion. I have an unfair advantage over the other scouts, because when I need to compare a kid to the personification of toughness – and an insatiable blood-lust for violence – all I have to do is think of Ovince. He was born to be a cage fighter, and I sure wouldn’t want to be in Ombey’s shoes on April 25.”


XFC 8: “Regional Conflict” features the fastest-rising young prospects and top emerging superstars from Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky and North Carolina in a series of contender-versus-contender cage fights. Tickets are now available at the Thompson-Boling Arena box office and Tickets Unlimited outlets, including Cat's Music, Disc Exchange, and Fye Music.


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About Xtreme Fighting Championships (XFC): Xtreme Fighting Championships – better known to MMA fight fans worldwide as the XFC – is the Southeast’s leading independent MMA promotion, and stages the largest live shows in the entire sport this side of the UFC. Dedicated to launching the careers of the MMA superstars of tomorrow, the XFC’s next mega-event, XFC 8: “Regional Conflict,” takes place on April 25 at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee, and will be broadcast live on national television, exclusively on HDNet. For more information about the XFC, please visit www.mmaxfc.com.

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