The light heavyweight division seems to have a resurgence in 2019 as yet another high profile bout involving ranked contenders will take place in the forthcoming months. That, and the UFC has released another fighter, and you can read my thoughts about all the news below in the current MMA odds and ends.
Ovince Saint-Preux vs. Misha Cirkunov, UFC 235
The UFC declared an interesting 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 into the role of gatekeeper in the light heavyweight division. OSP lost a clear choice to Dominick Reyes his out his time, but he submitted Tyson Pedro in impressive 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 might end up being the high point of his MMA career. The Reyes fight was clearly a step backward, though, as was a entry defeat to Ilir Latifi that 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 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 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 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 simply find OSP such a bothersome fighter to forecast how he is going to do, while I think Cirkunov is somewhat more steady. I’d expect a competitive line, but with a little 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 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 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 fight, but it didn’t go his way. Despite entering this bout as a significant favorite, White was ruled by an aging Sanchez and it was the type of reduction that created the UFC want to cut ties with White. But he does have one saving grace here, and it’s that Cage Warriors is on Fight Pass this past year. A few finishes for White and that he could well be signed back into the UFC, though 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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