The light heavyweight division looks to have a resurgence in 2019 as yet another high-profile bout involving ranked contenders will occur in the coming months. That, plus the UFC has introduced an additional 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 declared an intriguing light heavyweight bout between top-15 rated contenders Ovince Saint-Preux and Misha Cirkunov will take place 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 decision to Dominick Reyes his last time out, but he submitted Tyson Pedro in remarkable 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 battle was clearly a step backwards, however, as was a submission defeat to Ilir Latifi that preceeded that the Pedro win. OSP is a very 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 final outing submitted Patrick Cummins. He was knocked out by Volkan Oezdemir and Glover Teixeira his two fights before that, but the triumph over Cummins place him back on track and reminded us why the Latvian-Canadian was this impressive prospect. Now that he’s living in Las Vegas, this will be a hometown fight of sorts for him. Although I am worried about Cirkunov’s chin letting him down , I think he has what it takes to conquer OSP. I just find OSP such a frustrating fighter to predict how he’s going to do, while I think Cirkunov is a bit more steady. I’d expect a competitive lineup, but with a little lean towards the fighter in Cirkunov.
Craig White Cut, Signs 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 on him. White (14-9) had a tough go at the UFC after departing Cage Warriors among its top welterweight contenders. He made his Octagon debut on very short notice and has been completed by top-10 ranked Neil Magny, cutting upwards of 30lbs to make weight. The UFC gave him a favorable matchup from Diego Sanchez in his next battle, but it did not go his way. Despite entering this bout as a substantial favored, White was dominated by an aging Sanchez and it was the type of reduction that created the UFC wish to cut ties with White. But he does have one saving grace here, and it is that Cage Warriors is on Fight Pass this season. A couple of endings for White and that he could well be signed back into the UFC, however he may fare better as a middleweight going forward. White’s opponent for his return to Cage Warriors hasn’t been declared yet, but he’ll struggle at Cage Warriors 102, which such as UFC 235 also occurs March.
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