The light heavyweight division seems to have a resurgence in 2019 as yet another high-profile bout between ranked contenders will take place in the coming months. That, and the UFC has released another fighter, and you can read my thoughts about all 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 ranked contenders Ovince Saint-Preux and Misha Cirkunov will take place at UFC 235, going 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 decision to Dominick Reyes his last time out, but he filed Tyson Pedro in remarkable fashion his fight before that. He’s not far 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 prove to be the high point of his MMA career. The Reyes fight was clearly a step backward, though, as was a entry defeat to Ilir Latifi who preceeded that the Pedro win. OSP is a really solid gatekeeper, but his days as a title contender seem to be over.
Cirkunov (14-4) is 5-2 in the UFC and in his final expedition filed Patrick Cummins. He was pumped out by Volkan Oezdemir and Glover Teixeira his two fights before that, but the triumph over Cummins put 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 letting him down , I think he has what it takes to beat OSP. I just find OSP such a frustrating fighter to forecast how he is going to do, while I believe Cirkunov is a bit more steady. I would anticipate a competitive line, 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 back with Cage Warriors, the promotion announced. Of course, this means the UFC recently cut on him. White (14-9) had a rough go in the UFC after leaving Cage Warriors among its top welterweight contenders. He made his Octagon introduction on quite short notice and has been finished by top-10 rated Neil Magny, cutting upwards of 30lbs to make weight. The UFC gave him a favorable matchup against Diego Sanchez in his next fight, but it did not go his way. Despite entering that bout as a significant favored, White was dominated by an aging Sanchez also it was the type of reduction that made the UFC want to cut ties with White. But he does have one saving grace here, and it’s that Cage Warriors is about Fight Pass this season. A few finishes for White and he could well be signed back into the UFC, however he can fare better as a middleweight heading forward. White’s opponent because of his return to Cage Warriors has not been announced yet, but he will fight at Cage Warriors 102, which like UFC 235 also occurs March.
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