The light heavyweight division looks to have a resurgence in 2019 as yet another high-profile bout between ranked contenders will take place in the forthcoming months. That, and the UFC has released an additional fighter, and you can read my thoughts about each of the news below in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Ovince Saint-Preux vs. Misha Cirkunov, UFC 235
The UFC declared an intriguing light heavyweight bout between top-15 rated contenders Ovince Saint-Preux and Misha Cirkunov will happen at UFC 235, heading down March 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Saint-Preux (23-12) is 11-7 overall from the UFC and has settled in to the role of gatekeeper in the light heavyweight division. OSP lost a clear choice to Dominick Reyes his last time out, but he filed Tyson Pedro in remarkable fashion his fight before that. He is not much removed from a three-fight win streak that included a KO over Corey Anderson and Von Flue chokes against Yushin Okami and Marcos Rogerio de Lima, although that streak might end up being the high point of his MMA career. The Reyes battle was certainly a step backwards, though, as was a submission defeat to Ilir Latifi who preceeded that the Pedro win. OSP is a really good gatekeeper, but his days as a title contender seem to be over.
Cirkunov (14-4) is 5-2 at the UFC and in his last outing submitted Patrick Cummins. He had been knocked out by Volkan Oezdemir and Glover Teixeira his two fights before this, but the win over Cummins place him back on track and reminded us why the Latvian-Canadian was such an impressive prospect. Now that he’s living in Las Vegas, this is going to be a hometown fight of sorts for him. Although I’m worried about Cirkunov’s chin allowing him down again, I still think he has what it takes to conquer OSP. I just find OSP such a frustrating fighter to forecast how he is going to perform, while I believe Cirkunov is somewhat more steady. I would expect a competitive lineup, but with a slight lean towards the fighter in Cirkunov.
Craig White Cut, Evidence With Cage Warriors
Former UFC welterweight Craig White has signed with Cage Warriors, the promotion announced. Of course, this means the UFC recently cut him. White (14-9) had a tough go at the UFC after leaving Cage Warriors among its best welterweight contenders. He left his Octagon debut on quite short notice and has been completed by top-10 ranked Neil Magny, cutting upwards of 30lbs to create weight. The UFC gave him a favorable matchup against Diego Sanchez in his second fight, but it did not go his way. Despite entering this bout as a substantial favorite, White was ruled by an aging Sanchez also it was the type of loss that created the UFC wish to decrease ties with White. However, he does have one saving grace here, and it is that Cage Warriors is on Fight Pass this past season. A couple of finishes for White and he could well be signed back into the UFC, however he may fare better as a middleweight heading forward. White’s competition because of his return to Cage Warriors hasn’t been declared yet, but he will fight at Cage Warriors 102, which like UFC 235 additionally occurs March.
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