The light heavyweight division looks to have a resurgence in 2019 as yet another high-profile bout between ranked contenders will take place in the forthcoming months. That, plus the UFC has introduced another fighter, and you can read my thoughts on each of 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 happen at UFC 235, going down March 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Saint-Preux (23-12) is 11-7 overall in 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 submitted 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, although that run may end up being the high point of his MMA career. The Reyes fight was certainly a step backward, however, as was a submission defeat to Ilir Latifi who preceeded that the Pedro win. OSP is a very 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 outing submitted Patrick Cummins. He had been pumped 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 all 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 allowing him down , I still think he has what it takes to beat OSP. I just find OSP such a frustrating fighter to predict how he is going to perform, while I think Cirkunov is somewhat more steady. I’d 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 on him. White (14-9) had a rough go in the UFC after leaving Cage Warriors among its top welterweight contenders. He left his Octagon introduction on quite short notice and has been completed 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 next battle, but it didn’t go his way. Despite entering this bout as a significant favorite, White was dominated by an aging Sanchez also it was the type of reduction that made the UFC wish to decrease 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 finishes for White and he could well be signed back into the UFC, though he may fare much 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 like UFC 235 additionally occurs March.
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