The light heavyweight division looks to have a resurgence in 2019 as yet another high-profile bout between rated contenders will occur in the forthcoming months. That, plus the UFC has introduced an additional fighter, and you can read my thoughts about all 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, 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 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 struggle before that. He is 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 backwards, however, as was a submission defeat to Ilir Latifi that preceeded that the Pedro win. OSP is a very 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 last expedition filed Patrick Cummins. He was knocked out by Volkan Oezdemir and Glover Teixeira his two fights before this, 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 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 conquer OSP. I simply find OSP such a bothersome fighter to forecast how he is going to perform, while I believe Cirkunov is a bit more steady. I would expect 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 back with Cage Warriors, the advertising announced. Obviously, this usually means the UFC recently cut him. White (14-9) had a rough go at the UFC after departing Cage Warriors as one of its best welterweight contenders. He made his Octagon introduction on very short notice and has been finished by top-10 ranked Neil Magny, cutting upwards of 30lbs to create weight. The UFC gave him a favorable matchup from Diego Sanchez in his second fight, but it didn’t go his way. Despite entering this bout as a significant favored, White was dominated by an aging Sanchez and it was the kind of reduction that created the UFC wish to cut ties with White. But he does have one saving grace here, and it’s that Cage Warriors is about Fight Pass this past season. A few finishes for White and that he could well be signed back to the UFC, however he can fare better as a middleweight heading forward. White’s opponent for his return to Cage Warriors hasn’t been announced yet, but he will struggle at Cage Warriors 102, which like UFC 235 additionally occurs March.
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