The light heavyweight division seems to have a resurgence in 2019 as yet another high-profile bout involving rated contenders will take place in the forthcoming months. That, and the UFC has introduced an additional 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 ranked 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 in to the role of gatekeeper in the light heavyweight division. OSP lost a crystal clear decision to Dominick Reyes his out his time, but he submitted Tyson Pedro in impressive fashion his struggle before that. He’s not much 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 battle was clearly a step backward, however, as was a entry defeat to Ilir Latifi who preceeded that the Pedro win. OSP is a very good gatekeeper, but his days as a title contender seem 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 that, but the win over Cummins put 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 will 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’s going to do, while I believe Cirkunov is somewhat more steady. I would expect a competitive line, but with a little lean towards the younger fighter in Cirkunov.
Craig White Cut, Signs With Cage Warriors
Former UFC welterweight Craig White has signed back with Cage Warriors, the promotion announced. Obviously, this means the UFC lately cut him. White (14-9) had a rough go at the UFC after leaving Cage Warriors as one of its top welterweight contenders. He made his Octagon introduction on quite short notice and was 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 fight, but it did not go his way. Despite entering this bout as a substantial favored, White was dominated by an aging Sanchez and it was the kind of reduction that created the UFC want to cut ties with White. However, he does have one saving grace here, and it is that Cage Warriors is about Fight Pass this past year. A few endings for White and he could very well be signed back into the UFC, though he may fare much better as a middleweight heading forward. White’s competition for his return to Cage Warriors hasn’t been declared yet, but he will fight at Cage Warriors 102, which like UFC 235 also takes place March.
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