The light heavyweight division looks to have a resurgence in 2019 as yet another high-profile bout involving ranked contenders will take place in the coming months. That, plus the UFC has released another fighter, and you can read my thoughts about each the news below in the current 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 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 choice to Dominick Reyes his out his time, but he filed Tyson Pedro in impressive fashion his struggle 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, though that streak might prove to be the high point of his MMA career. The Reyes battle was clearly a step backward, however, as was a submission defeat to Ilir Latifi that preceeded the Pedro win. OSP is a really solid gatekeeper, but his days as a title contender appear to be over.
Cirkunov (14-4) is 5-2 at the UFC and in his final outing submitted Patrick Cummins. He had been knocked 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 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 again, I think he has what it takes to conquer OSP. I just find OSP such a frustrating fighter to predict how he is going to perform, while I believe Cirkunov is somewhat more steady. I would anticipate 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 back with Cage Warriors, the advertising announced. Of course, this means the UFC lately 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 quite short notice and was finished by top-10 ranked Neil Magny, cutting upwards of 30lbs to make weight. The UFC gave him a favorable matchup against Diego Sanchez in his next battle, but it did not go his way. Despite entering this bout as a significant favorite, White was ruled by an aging Sanchez also it was the kind of reduction that made the UFC wish to decrease ties with White. However, he does have one saving grace here, and it is that Cage Warriors is about Fight Pass this past season. A few endings for White and that he could very well be signed back to the UFC, however he can fare much better as a middleweight going forward. White’s competition for his return to Cage Warriors hasn’t been announced yet, but he’ll fight at Cage Warriors 102, which like UFC 235 additionally takes place March.
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