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 introduced another fighter, and you can read my thoughts about each the news below in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Ovince Saint-Preux vs. Misha Cirkunov, UFC 235
The UFC announced an interesting 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 into the role of gatekeeper in the light heavyweight division. OSP lost a crystal clear choice to Dominick Reyes his out his time, but he filed Tyson Pedro in impressive fashion his struggle before that. He’s 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 run may end up being the high point of his MMA career. The Reyes fight was clearly a step backward, however, as was a submission defeat to Ilir Latifi who preceeded 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 in the UFC and in his last outing submitted Patrick Cummins. He had been pumped out by Volkan Oezdemir and Glover Teixeira his two fights before that, but the win over Cummins put him back on track and reminded us all why the Latvian-Canadian was such an impressive prospect. Now that he is living in Las Vegas, this is going to be a hometown fight of sorts for him. Although I am worried about Cirkunov’s chin allowing him down , I think he has what it takes to conquer OSP. I simply find OSP such a frustrating fighter to predict how he is going to do, while I believe Cirkunov is a bit more steady. I’d anticipate a competitive lineup, but with a slight lean towards the younger fighter in Cirkunov.
Craig White Cut, Evidence With Cage Warriors
Former UFC welterweight Craig White has signed with Cage Warriors, the advertising announced. Of course, this usually means the UFC recently cut him. White (14-9) had a rough go in the UFC after leaving Cage Warriors as one of its top welterweight contenders. He made his Octagon debut on quite short notice and was completed by top-10 rated Neil Magny, cutting upwards of 30lbs to create weight. The UFC gave him a favorable matchup against Diego Sanchez in his second battle, but it did not go his way. Despite entering this bout as a substantial favored, White was ruled by an aging Sanchez and it was the type of reduction that created the UFC wish to cut ties with White. However, he does have one saving grace here, and it’s that Cage Warriors is about Fight Pass this past season. A couple of endings for White and he could well be signed back into the UFC, though he may fare better as a middleweight going forward. White’s competition because of his return to Cage Warriors has not been declared yet, but he will struggle at Cage Warriors 102, which like UFC 235 additionally takes place March.
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