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 coming months. That, and the UFC has released another fighter, and you can read my thoughts about all of the news below in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Ovince Saint-Preux vs. Misha Cirkunov, UFC 235
The UFC announced an intriguing light heavyweight bout between top-15 ranked contenders Ovince Saint-Preux and Misha Cirkunov will happen 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 in to the role of gatekeeper in the light heavyweight division. OSP lost a 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, although that streak may end up being the high point of his MMA career. The Reyes battle was clearly a step backwards, though, as was a submission defeat to Ilir Latifi who 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 in the UFC and in his final outing submitted Patrick Cummins. He had been pumped 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 all why the Latvian-Canadian was such an 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 allowing him down again, I still think he has what it takes to conquer OSP. I just find OSP such a bothersome fighter to predict how he is going to do, while I think Cirkunov is a bit more steady. I’d anticipate a competitive lineup, but with a slight lean towards the younger fighter in Cirkunov.
Craig White Cut, Signs With Cage Warriors
Former UFC welterweight Craig White has signed with Cage Warriors, the promotion announced. Obviously, this usually means the UFC recently cut on him. White (14-9) had a tough go at the UFC after leaving Cage Warriors among its best welterweight contenders. He left his Octagon debut on very short notice and has been finished 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 next fight, but it did not go his way. Despite entering this bout as a significant favored, White was dominated by an aging Sanchez also it was the kind of loss that made 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 year. A few finishes for White and he could well be signed back into the UFC, though he can fare better as a middleweight heading forward. White’s competition because of his return to Cage Warriors hasn’t been announced yet, but he’ll fight at Cage Warriors 102, which such as UFC 235 additionally takes place March.
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