The light heavyweight division seems 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 another fighter, and you can read my thoughts on all of the news below in the current 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 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, though that run may end up being the high point of his MMA career. The Reyes battle was certainly a step backwards, 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 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 place 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’m worried about Cirkunov’s chin allowing him down again, I still think he has what it takes to beat OSP. I simply find OSP such a bothersome fighter to forecast how he’s going to perform, while I think Cirkunov is a bit more steady. I would anticipate 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 promotion announced. Of course, this means the UFC recently cut on him. White (14-9) had a tough go at the UFC after departing Cage Warriors as one of its best welterweight contenders. He left his Octagon debut on quite short notice and was 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 second battle, but it did not go his way. Despite entering this bout as a substantial favored, White was ruled by an aging Sanchez also it was the type 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 year. A couple of endings 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 competition for his return to Cage Warriors has not been announced yet, but he’ll fight at Cage Warriors 102, which like UFC 235 additionally occurs March.
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